Canadian Contractor

Rob Blackstien   

Thrown to the wolves

As a contractor, it should be your goal to become the wolf to your clients.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “why in the hell would I want to be a wolf?” That’s a natural reaction. After all, throughout history wolves have tended to be saddled with negative baggage.

There was the wolf that blew down the three little pigs’ house. Seriously? What a jerk! And then you’ve got the one that tried to eat Little Red Riding Hood. Clearly, he was suffering from some kind of social disorder.

There’s even been sayings conjured up to perpetuate this off-putting theme: “Oh, never mind him, he’s a lone wolf.” Or, “It feels like the wolf is at the door.” And then there’s “Sheesh, were you raised by wolves?” How about the old classic “Be careful, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Again, more socialization issues, associations with sneakiness, and a general sense of impending doom when the wolf is around.

Don’t even get me started on werewolf legends.

Clearly, wolves are in dire need of a major public relations campaign.

But the fact of the matter is wolves have a ton of good qualities that are often overlooked: they’re courageous; they’re known for their protective and caring side; they are strongly determined; and they are proud and tremendous leaders.

The reason I bring this up (oh, are you finally going to get to the point?) is that as a writer/editor that has worked for many Annex media publications over the years, I’ve gained a certain reputation.

Need someone to come in on a moment’s notice and hit the ground running to finish a project? Check. Have an editorial emergency situation that needs immediate fixing? Done. And now, I’ve been assigned to take over as the new editor of Canadian Contractor, a publication that I’ve been involved with in some capacity or another for nearly two decades.

Having previously stepped in on numerous occasions to Shepard various magazines through production — and doing so with the utmost efficiency and expertise — I’ve been nicknamed “The Wolf.”

If the pop culture reference eludes you, you may recall the character that actor Harvey Keitel played in Quentin Tarantino’s classic 1994 film Pulp Fiction. In that movie, The Wolf (Keitel) was a problem solver. Have an emergency? He was there in a flash to take control of the situation and resolve it, professionally and expertly.

So you see, being The Wolf has its positive connotations as well. Now, you may never have to deal with getting rid of a body, cleaning blood, brain bits and guts out of a car, and then having said car demolished (thankfully, I am rarely asked to do this myself), but you get the point: it should be every contractor’s goal to embody these lupine characteristics, and become an indispensable and go-to resource within your community.

Need a full reno done? No need to check the Yellow Pages (I know, so old school). Just call The Wolf. Time to refresh the bathroom (and not simply because Uncle Jack just came out of there after eating four cans of chili)? The Wolf’s your man.

If we all aspire to be more wolf-like perhaps we can finally start swaying the general public perception of our industry.

No, this is not a simple transition. I get it… you have certain clients that are pigs, and you’d love nothing more than to huff and puff and blow their house down (perhaps with the assistance of a carefully situated brick of C4).

But don’t forget that you’re a professional… a pillar of the community… you’re “The Wolf.”

Applying those lessons to your business (and avoiding — or at least minimizing — the times you devour innocent people when the moon is full) will go a long way towards ensuring your future success.


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