- Jan 07, 2016
- By Calvin Boender
- Calvin Boender
In my college years, I worked as a carpenter and drove a garbage truck through the streets of Chicago. Unknown to me then, I was learning valuable lessons that I have applied later in my real estate career. Working as a carpenter helped me understand construction, the costs of bringing labor and materials to a project, and completing the project on a specific budget. In the early 1970s, my experience as a “Garbio”, as garbage truck drivers in Chicago were called, helped me to understand Chicago’s streets and neighborhoods, when they were much rougher than today. My skills as a carpenter and a Garbio were no better than the other guys, but the experience I gained served as a base of knowledge for my future success. Through my experience as a carpenter, one of the many things I learned was that 55 cents of every dollar spent on real estate development was for hard construction. Understanding construction costs and how they affected project budgets was pivotal to my success as a real estate developer. Driving a garbage truck was not about becoming a great Garbio, it was really about learning and becoming comfortable in the dilapidated streets of an urban market ready to explode with development opportunities.
My motto is “always look both ways on a one-way street”. Unknowingly, we all learn from our everyday experiences. We can use that knowledge to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. Be open to opportunity when it comes along – or it will pass us by in an instant! By looking both ways on life’s one-way street and remaining cognizant of our experiences, we will be fully prepared to jump when the opportunity presents itself.
Throughout my career, I was fortunate enough to draw on a wide array of experiences and my rich background when making key decisions and building my business.