August 21, 2020, was a beautiful day here in Oklahoma. As is typical in August in Oklahoma it heated up quickly. I joined Billy and his crew at the shop that morning long before daylight and we headed up to the Oklahoma City metro area. Our plan was to build a 12×16 Gable style shed in the extreme southern edge of OKC, then travel about half an hour further north into OKC to build an 8×12 Lofted Barn. The trailer was loaded, tools were ready in the truck, and the five of us were full of optimism.
Billy’s crew is a collection of unique guys. In all my years of working in this business, we have always struggled to find hardworking builders who would stick with it for very long. Billy has been an anchor in the shop for almost 15 years, but I have not yet been able to clone him. This spring we experienced (like many of you did) a huge demand for our products. Sales surged for us and suddenly we were overwhelmed with orders. Billy had been keeping up with demand with help from a high school student that attends our church. Now, suddenly, that was not even close to enough.
Billy and I both scrambled to find some help for him. Coincidentally, we each found a good candidate on the same day. We agreed to hire both of them. They were oilfield guys – just like almost everyone else out here in rural Oklahoma – and the oil prices had killed their jobs. Neither of them had much experience in construction, but both were eager to learn. A couple weeks later, Billy found another man looking for work and hired him, too. He had a lot of construction experience and was able to contribute to the team quickly.
By the time this particular morning rolled around, these guys were starting to mesh as a team. We arrived at the job site and everyone quickly moved into their role. It was a well-oiled machine! Jason and Donny worked on unloading and carrying everything around to the back yard. James helped me as I began blocking up the skids to level the floor. Billy helped keep things moving and organized. The floor was built soon, then the walls. The ground was very sloped. This made it difficult for us on the downhill side, but we worked through it to stand the trusses, deck the roof, and finish prepping the building for urethane and then trim paint.
By the time Jason and I had finished shingling the roof, the other three had finished hanging the doors, touching everything up, and hauling out the trash. I settled up with the customer and we left a little after 1pm.
We were feeling very good about finishing both these onsite builds in a day. It wouldn’t be dark until about 8:30 that evening and our next building was smaller and simpler. We decided we had time to enjoy a nice big lunch at a Mexican restaurant that we all liked. Some of you are already seeing where this story is going and wondering if this was our first day to work in the August heat.
I ordered the amazing Stuffed Avocados. If you’re not planning to work through a hot August afternoon, I highly recommend them! The other guys ate like I did, stuffing ourselves with chips, salsa, queso, and then huge entrees. We left stuffed.
The few minutes’ drive to the next location passed quickly and then we were repeating the process from earlier that morning. The problem this time was that when I leaned over to build the floor it nearly made me sick. According to my scientific tests that day, stuffed avocados do not mix well with extremely hot weather in the stomach of fat, middle-aged carpenters.
Everyone seemed to be struggling to keep up the pace as the hot afternoon wore on. There was absolutely no breeze. The sun was unhindered by any cloud cover. It was brutal! By the time we were working on the trusses, I had went as far as I could. I found a shady spot to lean against the fence. Everyone stopped periodically to cool down a bit.
Then, as we were preparing to spray the urethane coating a small rainstorm blew in. It was only a light shower and moved on quickly, but it did cool the temperature significantly. We managed to get both coats of urethane sprayed. We painted the trim, hung the doors, and began installing the metal roofing.
Our customer was a very pleasant gentleman who owned his own electrical business. He had been in the yard with us most of the afternoon and we enjoyed visiting with him. His father joined him on the porch that evening and we had a good time interacting with both of them. The lady of the house came out to inspect the shed as we wrapped up just after dark.
They paid us and we said our goodbyes. It seems that many of our onsite customers become friends. This was the case again on this fine day. Two jobs well-done, new friends made, and five tired men heading back toward home concluded this memorable day in the life of a shed builder.