Angelo Perryman | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Angelo Perryman

Background:  

Philadelphia-based Perryman Building & Construction Services is a full-service construction company that provides project planning, management and construction work for parks, hospitals, pharmaceutical businesses, and companies in several other industries. The three-generation family business has completed more than 1,000 projects in the mid-Atlantic region in the last 10 years.

The Mistake:

I was a concrete finisher, working for my dad at Perryman, when we were completing a concrete project on an elevated area. We hadn’t put the proper protections in place, so I ended up stepping off the side of the elevated area and falling down. That became the joke of the day for everyone, because I was always trying to be very efficient and lead by example. That wasn’t the case that day.

I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. Work is the time to stay in the moment, and take as many proactive steps as you can to create a situation that enables you to do your job as efficiently as possible. But I was 18 years old at the time, very young in my career, and trying to get things done quickly, which is usually how you get yourself into trouble.

Go through that extra step of saying, ‘Now, what haven’t we thought about?’

The Lesson:

That experience drove home the idea that I needed to think hard about my plans for projects ahead of time, and that I needed to really cross my T’s and dot my I’s to avoid those unintended consequences. Today, at our company, we sit down and address not only the things that we thought about, but also we also go through that extra step of saying: “Now, what haven’t we thought about?”

It’s not about rushing. To a large degree, what you’re really trying to do is show the client how thoughtful you’ve been in preparing for the project — that the materials are where they need to be in advance, even if that means delivering the materials during off-hours, or saying, “This is something where special equipment would make the process more efficient.”

You must still be very conscious of schedule, but there are always tools available to help you deliver the project time, on budget, and with a mind to all the concerns that could have come up.

I was actually, later, selected to be part of [Mayor Michael Nutter’s] Building Safety and Oversight Board, to help improve safety in the region. It’s the things that you learn in the very beginning that help you later on.

Photo courtesy of Angelo Perryman.

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