The Construction Veteran Podcast

From the Marines to Industrial Real Estate: Calvin Mullinax's Journey of Discipline, Risk, and Success

July 09, 2023 The Construction Veteran
The Construction Veteran Podcast
From the Marines to Industrial Real Estate: Calvin Mullinax's Journey of Discipline, Risk, and Success
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how the discipline and structure of the Marines can create a successful career in the industrial real estate sector? Calvin, a Marine Corps veteran, walked me through his unique journey from the military to the construction industry. Fueled by the transformation of his experience in service after the 9/11 events, he reflects on how his military skillset combined with his education became instrumental to his career growth.

A twist of fate led Calvin to transition into industrial real estate, and he generously shares his experiences in his current role with Stag, carved out of his prior experience in construction management at Stream Realty. We navigated through the rippling impact of COVID-19 on the industrial sector, the surging demand for warehouse space, and the crucial role of having boots on the ground. Calvin also took a moment to reflect on how he harnessed resources such as Tuition Assistance to further his career and education.

As we wrapped up our enlightening conversation, we explored the array of opportunities within the construction industry. Calvin shared essential advice for those considering a similar path, emphasizing attitude, motivation, and risk-taking as key factors. He painted an evocative picture of the pride that accompanies the achievement of being able to say, "I built that," urging veterans and young people to consider this transition. We also touched on the importance of taking risks for career growth, using skills honed in the military to navigate the civilian world. Tune in and be inspired by Calvin's journey from the Marines to making waves in the industrial real estate sector.

https://www.stagindustrial.com/

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Speaker 1:

There's a lot of things from military aspect that I that they teach you and they instill in early on that can that you carry with you the rest of your life and they are industry special. This is the construction veteran podcast Connecting and celebrating veterans in construction.

Speaker 2:

Now here's your host, scott Friend. Alright, hey, calvin, how's it going, man? It's going pretty good. Scott, thanks for having me on. Yeah, for sure, man, good catching up with you. So Calvin and I actually worked together. Oh gosh, that would have been, i want to say, 2018, but it's been. It's been a few years. My first project in Dallas. Calvin was part of the building representation team, and so we met and found out we were both vets, which it's always a you hit it off with a fellow vet. You just get to chatting about what, what you do, and so I'd reached out to him to see if he would participate in this, and he's been making some moves, so we're going to get into that, what he's doing now, what he did. So, calvin, take me back to your service days. You're in the Marine Corps, what'd you do?

Speaker 1:

I was. I was actually a calibrationist tech, so I yeah, when I joined I didn't actually have any intention of joining the military. I joined in the end of 1999 and I just graduated high school and my dad was also a Marine. So I come from the lineage of, you know, having that military, you know, being raised by military and having that background.

Speaker 1:

And he wanted me to go to college and do bigger and better things, but I wasn't ready for it, so I went and I met with a recruiter after I graduated and tested pretty well and he gave me a big list of options and I asked him what, what would, what would suit me best when I get out? you know what would be something that kind of lined me up for a career path and he pointed out the electronics and calibrations tech role, which was 6492, was the job. So so I signed up, was like let's do it sounds good and ended up, you know, having quite a bit of schooling from that. So through the military, which was, which has, you know, worked out great for me in the long run.

Speaker 2:

So Well, good. so so you went in with the goal of you saw the big picture, you wanted something. when you get out Right Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So, like I said, i didn't really have any intention of joining the military when I graduated. It never really crossed my mind. I was playing on going to college. I'd always been my plan.

Speaker 1:

And then, after I graduate high school, it's just, you know, i don't think that is the the path for me right now. I don't. You know, i wasn't ready. You know, i knew it, i felt it and I need to do something different. And so I actually got a call from the recruiter early one morning, whooped me up and it's like you know, what are you doing with your life? and that's that's kind of how it all started.

Speaker 1:

Not very subtle man, it's like you know what, i don't know who is this, and he's like you know, this is, you know, staff Sergeant Golden with the United States Marine Corps. You need to come talk to me and you know what I think I will. So, you know, it kind of just happened like that. It felt like you know, it was one of those intervention you know God, intervention type moments in my life that set me on a different path and I haven't regretted a single moment of it. It was. It set me, definitely set me on the correct path.

Speaker 1:

So when I joined, like I said, that was the end of 99, that was before you know 9-11, and you know everything got real crazy. So I joined with the expectation of getting you know, getting to travel some, getting some education, getting you know, getting some discipline, getting some skillset on my right path for me. And then you know a year I'm still in my I think I was still at my A school at the time when 9-11 happened or maybe I take that bag out in my B school with the calibrations part of it and 9-11 happened and you know, everything changed very quickly on on the service side and what was expected of us and what I was expecting to get out of the military anyway, it's everything changed so pretty quickly.

Speaker 2:

Let me dig into that a little more. So when that happened? because I had joined in 2004, so you know the things that already been kicked off. So when that happened and you're serving it what was your, your thought process at the time? so you didn't even want to, you had no intention of joining. Now you join, you know we're not in it in a conflict of any sort, and then boom, it changes. So what was going through your mind at that time? Yeah, it was.

Speaker 1:

It was pretty surreal, to be honest with you. You know we had I was still, and I was at the end of my B school at the time, we were about to graduate be done and, you know, get sent home or sent to our next, you know or base. I don't think it even got my orders yet, to be honest with you. But anyways, i remember I remember waking up that morning in the barracks there it was. We'd actually had that day off. I'd been on security patrol 24-hour duty, but the day before so I remember getting woke up by my roommate and some other guys you know saying, hey, you know, get jump up. We got it.

Speaker 1:

But you know, everything kind of hit the fan really quick. It was very chaotic and I remember them, them gearing us up completely. They locked the base down. It was it was all pretty, you know like set priests for real. You didn't really know what was going on. You wasn't getting a lot of information, which was typical of the military. But as far as overall mindset for the long you know goes, like I said, i joined for the first year and a half or so that was in and going through boot camp and my schooling.

Speaker 1:

It was very I mean, it was the Marine Corps. It was very tough and you're, you're learning, you're going through a lot and it was stressful, you know, for what it is. But then 9-11 happens and the stress and the thought process of what's going on and and what, what is going to be expected, what are we you know we're going to be and end up getting deployed. Are we going to, you know, be in a combat zone here soon? you know all those thoughts and fears that you, that you hadn't really thought was a realistic reality up to that point, start becoming true. So I remember myself and a bunch of guys sitting around, you know, in a huddled in a room you know talking about, you know like, what's going to happen, what's coming, you know what's going on. So it was, it was kind of, it was definitely an interesting and scary type of You know time and for us to wrap our brain around. So very interesting Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So you had you gone in and you're thinking I'm just going to do my four years or whatever and get out. But you correct me if I'm wrong. You served two terms right.

Speaker 1:

I only served one. I ended up. I got extended a couple of times because I was. we ended up getting deployed in 2004 and we ended up going to deploy miss over there. And then they I was supposed to get out in 2005 when we were actually in country and they extended me a year and then we went back and then they extended me another six months until we got back And then, once I got back myself, along with several other guys, our yard, we were up in June of 2006. So it extended our enlistment by quite a bit because of the tours that we did over there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, It's wild Man that's it. Changes everything. It's a quite an equation. Yeah, we got extended for three months in country, but man, a year and a half total. We got extended on your contract. That's wild.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, total rents a year and a half. It was, you know, like I said, you know, went in thinking I was going to, you know, get obviously the Marine court boot camp and training and schooling from the electronics and all that. And then I did complete all that. I mean that was all great. And then, as soon as I got done, i got back, i got to my, my, my base, where I was going to be stationed. It was full on training and gearing up for getting deployed, which happened ended up having a year and a half after that. So you know, in 2004,. So it was it. Just it escalated pretty quickly into something completely different. You know, your roads and past change very quickly in this life.

Speaker 2:

So Well, so say we've got somebody that that it's less than that's a year to a year and a half out. So you had that extension Did. Did your mindset change in that? Hey, okay, maybe you weren't ready to get out. Now you have this opportunity to start preparing more to to make that transition into the civilian life. Did anything change in your mindset and how you prepared?

Speaker 1:

A couple of things changed. I, you know, when I went in I had full intention of I was going to be a full career Marine. I was going to stay in the 20 years or longer. I, you know, I loved the lifestyle, i was enjoying it. And then, you know, when all that happened, when 9-11 happened and we started gearing up for deployment, that was, it was still. It was exciting, but in a different way. It was, you know, it's fear like fear-based excitement. I guess. You know not the unknown, the unexpected and what you know what may be coming in your way. So you know you stop, i stopped focusing as much on my career and my life with the Marines versus just getting through the next few years and what it's going to look like. And especially after we found out we got the orders that we were going to deploy.

Speaker 1:

So when I found out I was getting my and listening was getting extended, that did change some things, you know. I started looking at it. Like you know, we've already we're doing back-to-back tours over in Iraq, 2004, 2005. And you know, did I want to go back again, you know? and then that's kind of what I started asking myself is, how much of this can I do? And I started asking my leader, my leadership of my unit as well.

Speaker 1:

You know what are the odds, what are the chances that we have another tour over there and stuff like that. And they were pretty frank and pretty honest with me that you know it was very high, very the chances were very high. We'd probably go back within the next four years. So that did change things for me pretty quickly. You know, at that point I'll start thinking maybe I should take chances on the civilian side of things and see what I can make of myself with the schooling I've got and go to college now, you know, i feel like I'm more ready for that. So after we got back in 2000, it was early 2006 and we got out, we were started the separation process. I started looking at, you know, schools and life for me outside of the Marines, and that's when I really started thinking about what that might look like for the first time.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, it was really after experiencing the deployments and being over in Iraq, you know, for back to back years, it was, there are 10 months, you know periods with four months in between. It was that's when it really changed for me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a. I had a, my last guest we talked about. I had a guy I want. He was either KBR or floor, But we're in country in Afghanistan and this is like tail end of our deployment. You know, guy basically does what I do now. He was kind of like a superintendent but he was just overseeing 10 camps being built. You know there's massive facilities. And he's Hey, man, you want to come work with us? And I said, dude, talk about bad timing. Man, i've gotten so close to dying so much. No, i don't want to do that.

Speaker 1:

But, man.

Speaker 2:

I mean they paid really well, but I think it's wild too. He chose to get out. I mean, who would have thought that we would have been in that conflict for 20 years? Right, So yeah you definitely made the right choice, and so I want to talk about that, what you're doing now. So what do you do at the moment? We can kind of go through your whole career history, but what are you doing right now in the industry?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so right now my title is VP of capital with with stag industrial. So we own industrial buildings all over the US domestically, so there's actually four of us within that has my that do what I do within the company And we all share a portion of the US. I have the Western half, so from Texas to California, some of the Northern states, i've got about 19 states that I oversee myself, and so my role really is is making sure that the buildings all of our buildings we own them and we lease them out to tenants. You know big box industrial users, where I'll sell some, some manufacturing and some manufacturing, some specialty usage, but for the most part it's dry storage, like Amazon, wal-mart, all those type of big companies that need space And nowadays, especially since COVID, a big box warehouse space where you can store it has been in pretty high demand.

Speaker 1:

So it actually hasn't hurt us much, it's been actually pretty good. But my role specifically is making sure that the buildings are being maintained properly. So I do a lot of traveling, i do a lot of building tours, inspections, making sure that those buildings are being properly maintained, because most of the leases dictate that the tenants are responsible for the majority of the maintenance and upkeep of the building, so I've just got to make sure that that's being done on a pretty regular basis. So that is my role in a nutshell. Slim down, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so you've been doing that for about three years now. We talked about you switched into that role in a very interesting time in our country's history Yeah So middle of 2020, golly. So prior to that, where I met you, you were doing your PM for stream realty, for their construction arm. So for those folks who don't know, you know stream is one of the larger real estate companies out there, making large purchases of commercial properties for office buildings and other things. So that's how Calvin and I met. So my first question is so, from what you were doing when we met, how did you find you're way into this industrial sector? That's a very niche thing you're doing. I assume Stag's not people count, maybe not a massive company, but you guys have a large account. So how did you go from doing the PM side of stream into what you got now?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so it was pretty interesting transition for me because I was on, like you mentioned, with stream realty, which is a third party. They do a lot of leasing, brokerage and third party property management, construction management for companies like Stag or Link or there's other major REITs which are real estate investment trusts and different companies out there that they have managed their portfolios for them. So I was fortunate enough to get to a point where I was managing some pretty large portfolios when I was with stream, and Stag happened to be one of them. I managed all of their properties. I did the construction management and project management for all their properties in the Dallas, fort Worth area. So I got to work with the guys from Stag, which are headquarters in Boston, so they needed boots on the ground. Anytime they had a project at one of their buildings or one of their tenants were wanting to make improvements or what it might be, they would call on us because we managed their properties, and then they would get myself involved to oversee those projects locally and check on them, manage them, hire the contractors, hire the architects, engineers, whatever might be needed, and report back to them, keep them updated and stuff like that. And I did that for Stag. I did that for multiple different ownership groups and portfolios that we had at the time and streamed its headquartered out of Dallas.

Speaker 1:

So, long story short, how I got involved with Stag and made the jump over to that side was Stag. They opened their first remote office out of Boston in Dallas in January of 2020. And they were looking to have a capital, a VP of capital, in that Dallas office to oversee the Western half of the US, because travel from Boston to, say, like California, as you can imagine, is quite a trip. So it made sense to have somebody in the Dallas office that they were opening up. So they opened that office and then they knew me well, they knew us in the Dallas office. We had a pretty good relationship already at the time, established from working together for, i believe, about four years or so, some pretty large projects as well.

Speaker 1:

So it was a pretty easy transition in hindsight, but at the time it was also kind of scary because 2020, as everybody knows, was, like you mentioned, a pretty big deal and interesting time in our history. But making a career change at that time was also pretty scary because the unknown and what was going to happen. But and also there was no meeting in person there was. All the interviews were done over teams or Zoom. So it was definitely an interesting time to make a change, but it's been a fantastic one and Staggs a great company. It's a great culture and Stream was too. Which was part of the fear of leaving. There was leaving that culture and the company behind that I'd grown to love and work with for so long. So it's been good, but it's also kind of weird and scary change at the same time. But all positive. Like I said, i have no regrets.

Speaker 2:

Well, good man, sounds like you're happy and, yeah, it's a wild time to make that change and talking about the zoom meanings and everything that's hard in our industry, because there's a lot of value, i think getting on site, seeing what's going on, shaking hands Really is. You know, especially as a superintendent in the field. I would love to work from home, but that's not an option, so we don't. We can't do those things. We still need boots on the ground, and so, thankfully, a lot of these hardworking folks out there really put in the work in place were considered essential. I don't know about you guys. We certainly got busier during that time. I can remember dry or not dry, well, demo guys being excited They could work during the day and make noise and see their family. So there's a lot of value to that. So, yeah, scary for some, good opportunity for others, right. So I want to back up.

Speaker 2:

You were in the Marine Corps, not working in engineering, so you weren't a combat engineer, you weren't a construction guy. You got out. You didn't go straight into construction, though What'd you do before what you're doing?

Speaker 1:

now. Yeah, pretty interesting path, You know. I know it happens to a lot of people, but you kind of, you know, you plan something out and then your path just kind of evolves on its own as you, as you go through months and years, Right. So so when I, when we were getting out, like I said, we there were several of us that got extended and a big group of us were getting out the same time. A lot of the guys some of them were auxiliary guys or radar equipment. So I was attached to a Marine Air Control Squadron. I was attached to Max 2, 4 and then Mac Max 2 at a point which so we set up in this assembled temporary runways for Helos, which is what we did when we were on our rack was setting up and breaking down temporary runways for helicopters. So there were several of us that were electronics based and whatnot.

Speaker 1:

So we got recruited by Samsung actually down in Austin. They have a clean room fab down there. They needed electronics text. They wanted, they actually went looking for and were trying to recruit military personnel that had the electronics background. So they ended up hiring a big group of us, probably a five or six of us. I say a big group of five or six of us. They got out. We all moved down there and took jobs at Samsung and they treated as well. It was a great job They. It was a clean room. So you had to go through multiple levels to get into the fab and get in the big suit and you're basically walk around in these big white suits with just glasses and you get to know people by their eyes and how they look at you and stuff and wave.

Speaker 2:

But hey, that's a skill that paid off for you in 2020, though, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, getting to that, i realized pretty quick that that wasn't going to be, that that wasn't the lifestyle I wanted to live or the type of career I wanted to be in, where I was in a clean room 13 hours a day for three or four days straight and not interacting with other human beings. I wanted to do something where I was out and about and getting to see things, do things and interact with people. So I ended up taking a leap of faith and I took a job with a multifamily company that's based out of California. I made a random call one day to a lady that worked with my property manager when I was living in an apartment outside of the base back when I was in the Marines and she had moved up and she was an executive vice president. She was in their Kansas City office. I called her out of the blue, told her I was back from Iraq and I was looking to make a change and see if she had anything for me, and she ended up This is very summarized version, but she had an opportunity for me up in Kansas, in Topeka, kansas, and asked if I'd be interested in managing some communities up there and what. Let's do it. So I took off to Kansas and got into multifamily property management and did that. The properties were really old, they were based, they were built in the 50s, so they needed a lot of work. So during my roughly five years there I did a lot of contracting with contractors working on siding, roofing, pavement, fencing, painting, interiors, whatever you name it. I pretty much did it during that time and did a lot of contracting work. I tried to make a long story short.

Speaker 1:

One of the guys that got out with me. He went to school down in San Marcos at Texas State and he got an internship with Stream Realty His junior or senior year I'm not real clear, i'm not sure which one, but I remember him calling me and asking me if I hadn't spoken to him in almost five years. And he's called me out of the blue one day. I was like hey, i heard you got into property management. Are you still doing that? Do you like it? And he's like yeah, i love it. And he asked me if I'd be interested in commercial property management and said absolutely. And, like I said, he put me in touch with the director of property management with Stream Realty at the time down in San Antonio. We did a lot of phone calls and interviews. This was back in 2012, 2011.

Speaker 1:

By the time I was two states away, so by the time they were ready to make the hire and they got comfortable with me. They'd already hired a property manager But based on my military background and my leadership background with the military and my experience with working with contractors in the multifamily side, they asked me if I'd be interested in taking on a construction, an entry level construction role, management role And it sounded great to me from what they described as far as working with contractors doing different types of finish outs and different types of commercial projects, managing those and working with the different types of people and teams. So you know what that sounds like, something that I think I could do and I could think I could do it well. So I jumped on the opportunity, wanted to get my foot in the door on the commercial side and took it and ran with it And it kind of just grew from there. I ended up transferring to Dallas a few years after I was in San Antonio, to the headquarters. They needed help up there.

Speaker 1:

Dallas was a hot hit-growing market at the time And this is like 2015-ish And it just kind of took off. I started managing more and more portfolios. I went out, i managed our Southern California properties and portfolios for a while And, like I said, i managed to stag portfolio, which is how I ended up where I am now, but it's just kind of grew really quickly and been very exciting at the same time. I've done a lot, but I owe it all to one having the military background and two, having the the college degree as well. So those two things, i think, is how is able to get where I am today and grow and Have these opportunities come my way.

Speaker 2:

So let me, let me pick apart something real quick. So you're thankful for the the military background. So what do you think specifically your service did to help you? What did it teach you? practical skills, soft skills mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

So one one good thing about the military that I look I have learned over the years is exciting, especially the Marines. I'm not sure about the, you know, i can speak to the other branches, but the Marines, they, they, they put people in leadership positions very early on. They believe in giving Whether it's Lance, corpals, corpals, sergeants, you know they. They have people at all ranks really with some type of leadership Position, and whether it be just two or three people, or or a whole squad or platoon, you know they, they. They give you all different opportunities to lead classes, to lead workouts and whatever that might be, but They all. And they also give you opportunity for for leadership training and schools. There's the Marine Corps University that we I got several certifications from. But all of that goes to say that you know, it taught me a lot of. You know skills and leadership, leading a team, making on-the-spot decisions. You know being faced with difficult choices and tasks and finding a way to complete them.

Speaker 1:

And in our industry, in the construction world, And especially, you know, with what I do right now, you get faced with a lot of decisions on a daily basis. They're always different every day. It's a little different everything that comes at you each day is a little different and you've got to be able to You know factor in all the things that matter, make decisions pretty quickly and and live with that decision and be confident in your decision. And I think that's one thing the military did very well is giving you that confidence and that ability to Think on the fly, make decisions on the fly and and lead people at the same time and and work as a team as well.

Speaker 1:

I think that's important in our industry is that knowing how to work as a team and work with different people And knowing when to take a step back and when somebody may have a better idea or better knowledge, Especially with contractors or architects or engineers. You know they need somebody to manage the whole project, but they may. You know They're the professionals in their line of work and working as a team and listening to each group and what they recommend is important as well. So there's a lot of things from military aspect that I, that they teach you and they instill in you early on. That can that you carry with you the rest of your life and and they are industry especially Yeah, it's good.

Speaker 2:

So there's, there's some things that you kind of said without saying it. You know just that teamwork and really listening to your people I think is really critical in what we do, and the military is very good at teaching you that, because, i mean, you're probably one of the first guys you would say I'm not an expert at this, you know you're not the one really putting physically the work in place. We have to listen to those guys and they've been doing this a long time, so So I would say you become really successful in what you do. I mean you're you're only a few years older than I am, so very successful at a younger age. I assume you're late 30s, early 40s, so let me appreciate the late 30s.

Speaker 1:

There you go.

Speaker 2:

So if, if the reason I say that is because you know, you're not in your 60s yet, but You've got me become very successful, right, you've got me become very successful very fast. Is there anything you maybe would have done differently to either Expedite that process or maybe, you know, stick around somewhere else a little longer, whether it's the Marine Corps, another company. Is there anything that you would suggest someone do, maybe just a little differently than you did it?

Speaker 1:

I don't believe in, you know, i don't. I don't really live with a lot of regret. I believe everything, every decision you make, you know, kind of built you into who you are and gets you where you are and Ultimately, you know you, you live and die by those choices and those choices you can learn a lot from them, whether they be good ones or bad ones. Overall, i I'm happy with the decisions I've made. I don't know if I would change much if I could. If I could, if I guess, if I could look at one thing or point at one thing, i I kind of wish I would have started the schooling, the college degree aspect of it, while I was in the Marines, prior to Deployments, or maybe even while I was deployed. There was opportunity and to, you know, start online classes, stuff like that, and I know some of the guys I was with actually did that and I remember thinking that I Should be doing that, but I, but I didn't, you know, i was still young and I thought there was plenty of time for that later. So I I guess, if there's something I could go back and change, i wish I would start getting some college credits a little sooner or a little earlier than waiting till I, after I got out and, you know, maybe got a little later start on the in the on the career path. And then I would have wanted because Ultimately I had to go to school, but at the same time, like I said, i don't really regret that because I was gaining valuable experience working in the multifamily Side of things and learning from that side while it's getting my degree. So for me it worked out, worked out really well.

Speaker 1:

But you know, for the average person, for anyone, for anyone else, by adding recommendations to anybody that might still be in or thinking about Transitioning out, you know, start, if you, if you plan on getting a degree, start that process as soon as you feel like you're ready or as early as you can, because it is a journey In getting that degree and it is. There are gonna be ups and downs, is difficult, and the sooner you can start it I think the better you set up you'll be for when you do get out And you can maybe finish when you get out. But at least get it started to take a class or here and there or whatever. You know I would. But otherwise I feel pretty happy with you, know, my, my decisions, and they haven't all been great, they haven't all been the right ones, but you know, i've learned a lot from the wrong ones and Keep moving on with the with the right ones.

Speaker 2:

So Yeah, no, i appreciate, not that you would regret something. But yeah, you can always look back and maybe tweak a little thing, right? and there's so many people that don't know within the service. I didn't know all the opportunities that we have to get the free schooling while we're in without using the GI bill, things like Tuition assistance or. There's tons of programs out there. Or look at trades, you know, maybe you can go to a trade night school when you're at a non-deployable unit.

Speaker 1:

Exactly have some time.

Speaker 2:

So I think you got to have that grit. And that's tough to do when you're early 20s. I get it. You know you want to go out and party and have fun just like a college kid does. But Yeah, that's me personally, i'm kind of preaching to myself here. That's one thing I agree with you. I wish I had to start it a little earlier. I did do some classes while I was still active duty. I just wish I would have pushed a little harder and maybe knocked out at least like an associates before I got out.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, i don't that after That. I'm like you. I didn't realize, you know, i know it's not advertised as much as it should be. I didn't realize just how much you know you could accomplish and do while you're in, how many resources are available to you while you're in And, like you said, that's free of charge. You know they'll pay for 100% of it. And then, after you get out the GI bill, you know that's what I used and it only pays 80%, you know. So you know. That's why I was saying at least to a class here or there, it gets most credits out of the way and it won't cost you a thing. And I definitely think that's something that should be shared more and advertised more and made known to the active people earlier on. So I wish I would have known, sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so that's actually a good segue into. Another question is that we all go through this tap class, the transition assistance. What was your experience when you transitioned out? Do you recall this industry being discussed or anybody from the industry being present?

Speaker 1:

No, you know, I don't recall anybody from construction or this industry as a whole coming to us. You know we did have recruiters approaching us. It was mostly on the tech side and the electronics side and the police. I remember police departments, you know that was something. Actually I consider for a while my brother's a police officer actually, and you know Sixth House Lisa commander over and for work, one of their PDs, but so I considered that myself. But we, you know, we had, you know, fire departments, police departments, electronics, tech industry. But I don't, yeah, unfortunately I don't recall much on the commercial construction side at all. Act, you know, coming to our unit or hearing from anybody, and that's unfortunate because I think it translates well in what you learn and what you do in the military, especially with some specific units, and I can only speak to my experience in the military and then the Marines specifically. I feel like a lot of what they teach us and how they train us and how they instill different values and it translates really well to the construction industry.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, i preach that all the time. It's just such a good transition. It's. There's something new every day. You get the opportunity to lead people like you would in the service.

Speaker 2:

It's very chaotic and stressful, but we're used to that. We're used to you know, we're having bombs coming in one minute. Now we're out in the field and it's not we're not getting physically attacked, but you got to shoot, move and communicate in your own little way to think okay, here's our issue. How do we resolve it as a team? So it is really. Sometimes it feels like bombs.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah yeah, that's right. No, so that's good. I had the same experience where there was just nobody there and every guest that I've asked that and said the same thing. We just they might've been there. I certainly don't recall, but I think that's because the public might have a skewed view of what the construction industry really looks like. So when you were getting out, if you had that opportunity, what was your view at the time of what a construction person is or was?

Speaker 1:

You know I didn't really know a lot about it at the time. You know, when you think construction, you think of people on job sites wearing hard hats and yellow vests and you know safety goggles and lifting steel into the air or even just hammering nails in. It's just your typical I guess childish like view of what the construction world is like. But I didn't really know a lot about it. I'd never really, to be honest with you, i'd never really thought about it that much or even considered it as a possibility for me. It wasn't something that I grew up thinking about. But it's funny because when I I listen, i have a 14 year old daughter and a 10 year old son at home and it's funny when I hear them tell people what I do, because as they've been growing and they get older, i still catch them sometimes especially my son, telling people that you know that I work on a job site, i swing hammers or I drive forklifts or whatever you know, like a dump trucks or something, and I was like man. I have never done that a day in my life, you know. So it's funny sometimes listening to them, but that's kind of the way you know, if you would have asked me back then when I was 26 years old, getting out of the Marines or 25, that's probably about how I would have thought about it.

Speaker 1:

And there's so many different avenues in our industry and different roles needed, whether it be engineering and architecture, or it be somebody on the site swinging the hammers, or the contractors that are estimating the projects, or myself that are managing the projects, or even on the ownership side. That's what we're seeing the projects. There's so many different roles from top to bottom. You know you don't ever have to pick up a hammer, you don't ever have to drive a. You know construction equipment, but that never gets explained to you. You know I never heard the opportunity and never knew much about it. So you know, if it would have been brought to me at that time, i probably wouldn't have thought much about it, to be honest, because my experience at the time was in electronics and tech and you know I thought at the time that's probably where I needed to keep going, just to build on that.

Speaker 1:

But there's so much opportunity in our industry. It's a shame that it's not put in front of the military better or more often. So I'm glad that you've got this podcast. You know, obviously listen to all of it And I think what you're doing is great and it needs to be shared more because there's a lot of opportunities. I think military personnel that once I've worked with in this industry are thriving and do well And, like you said, it translates well and what they teach us, what they instill us and making decisions on the fly. So, whereas people that maybe just went to college and got a construction science degree or something like that, they haven't been faced with that real world situation where they're getting hit with from every angle and needing decisions made right then, right there. That could cost a lot of money for somebody. So anyways, yeah, it's a lot of opportunity.

Speaker 2:

No, i agree, and I again think, like your son, he's a great example. People, regardless of their age, they just think, hey, oh, you work in construction, you must be in a dozer somewhere. That's a bad thing, man. It's really fun running equipment. Don't get me wrong.

Speaker 1:

I bet it would be. I'd love to do it.

Speaker 2:

And that's the other thing too is I think we can appeal to folks who are maybe even younger than the service I'm trying, or younger than service age. I'm trying to get involved in our local high schools down here South of Dallas and really get these kids excited about, whether it's hey, do you wanna be in a dozer? Do you wanna be swinging a hammer and be able to step back and say I built that Cause there is a lot of pride in that in the field. Or hey, do you wanna work on the financial side? And I think there's all these different avenues within the industry, whether it's finance, safety, hr, anything we've got it in the industry.

Speaker 2:

It just happens to be supporting the construction effort, the built environment. So I appreciate you saying it's good that I'm doing this. It's certainly a passion project, so it's a lot of work, but, man, it just has to be said like you said, and I think we can do a better job.

Speaker 2:

I say we, like the veteran community, we can all do a better job within this industry as vets. preaching to our local vets hey man, I really think this is a good option because we could go down the rabbit hole of folks getting out and their identity is still the service, And when they lose that, that's where these mental health issues come in. The suicidal ideations is they've lost this purpose. but I really love what I do in the industry. I've been a PM, I'm a superintendent. now I just, I don't know, man, There's hard times, as you know, but it's just enjoyable at the end of the day, I think, and it definitely transfers well. So it really is.

Speaker 1:

I enjoy tremendously getting to see. Something I didn't know until I started this in this industry is how much I would enjoy watching something go from nothing to being this amazing, huge, like even building buildings from the ground up, watching it go from dirt to this building that's gonna be there for years, that people will drive by and see and experience. Or even down to the smallest project where you're finishing out an interior or something, just changing paint and carpet. It's amazing what we are able to do on the construction side With. It's almost yeah, i love what I do so much that it almost think of it as art.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes You take something ugly and you make it beautiful And it's really a neat thing And I think a lot of it is the passion and the amount of people that it takes to be able to create what we do and to complete these projects and everybody working together. And then it comes together at the end and everybody steps back and looks at it and it's gonna be there for a long time and people are gonna enjoy it and appreciate it. It gives you a lot of pride And, like you said, for people that are getting out, it keeps you focused on something. It keeps you moving on, it keeps you passionate about something, and there's a lot in the construction world and in our industry that can provide that what in any avenue you take in that industry. So it's a great thing. I think it should be out there more like you said.

Speaker 2:

So there's also some practical things, like I think a lot of people take for granted that when you're working in construction and even down to being a laborer sometimes, depending on what the company you're at a lot of these guys they have healthcare, they've got PTO, they've got time off, even though it might not be necessarily a nine to five job sometimes, especially on the salary side. But it's not like these guys have to live paycheck to paycheck. Now maybe they're doing that when they're 18, 20 years old and they're getting into an, they're in an apprenticeship, they're not a journeyman yet. But I'm telling you I've met some of these guys that are form and level, superintendant level for the trades, and they're doing very well for themselves And they did it without any school debt. So if they choose to go that route and not get the college education, it's not like opportunity is not out there.

Speaker 2:

So, our world has changed so much. I mean that I mean calling a plumber out. I haven't had to do that in a while because I'm stubborn and I like to do everything myself. But I mean, you hear that, just the crazy high prices that people are able to charge, and good for them. I'm glad they're doing that. But, man, the opportunity is there right now to get into a trade and to make a decent living And people are starting to appreciate the trades more. I feel like I know I I've been doing it on the commercial side 12 years now, close to 13. And I've learned a lot about our tradesmen and I've learned to respect these guys so much And they're just good people. I think sometimes they get the worst treatment, which sucks.

Speaker 2:

Thankfully, I'm in a position now where I can try to help with that, make sure that they've got some creature comforts, things like that. So that's another aspect of the industry I think people get confused about is well, I'm going to be in a pit all day. Well, I don't know, man, I'm inside in a 170,000 square foot facility. we're completely redoing And it, you know, it's not that bad being inside, or it just depends on what sect of the industry you get in. right, Right, Right.

Speaker 1:

So anyway, and to just expand on that a little bit, you know, coming into the industry without any construction background whatsoever, i, you know, especially early on, i had to rely really heavily on my contractors and the subs And I would, i would ask questions. You know why? why do you do it like that? Why is this in? those guys know what they're talking about And I mean I've, i've grown to, i respect the hell out of all of my subs, all my contractors, down to the lowest, you know, to them, to the, you know, lowest rank or whatever.

Speaker 1:

You know the people on site and doing what they're doing. I will sit and talk to them and learn so much from them because they really are skilled in whatever they do, whatever their trade may be, and everybody can learn And it's very interesting, you know, like being able to do what like a plumber does, or electrician and running and how they make it work. And I've had to learn from them on the job training. You know, like we did in the military, you know I would be on sites learning And over the years I've learned things that I've been able to.

Speaker 1:

Now, you know, look at it. You know, look at a job and say you know what? I remember a different. You know this, so and so telling me it should be done like this and and looking at that, you know having different options, different ways of doing things, because of things I've learned from people on the job doing things that you know the way they do them. So in a long way I'm trying to say you know the, the subs and the contractors and that all the way everybody you know it's. It's so interesting. Everybody has a different story and everybody has a different way of doing things, but they all are very intelligent, great people And I have a lot of respect for all of them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and you know I've had this chat with other folks that at the end of the day, everybody seems to be looking for this magic pill that's going to make the industry all better. I've found, at least in my experience people just want to be respected and treated like adults. They don't want to be screamed at because that's like the old school superintendent is dressing people down in public, calling them names like the. Gone are those days, and so I think that's another thing that people see about our industry and say you know, i don't want to do that, i don't want to yell that all day by some jerk. So it's definitely changed. I've seen a big change in the industry. I'm sure you have as well.

Speaker 2:

You kind of. You kind of skirted around it too. What you're speaking about is the humility aspect of it as well. It's kind of like that junior officer that, hey, i understand they have the rank by title and on paper, but they're leaning on folks like the senior NCOs to really learn the job. That, hey, i understand it might be 20 years, you're junior. However, i have to make the call, so feed me the information so I can make that call, and it's that natural respect.

Speaker 2:

So that's great. So let me ask you last couple of questions here. So say, you got a vet that's in this industry now. So I love talking to folks like you that have kind of progressed throughout their career into a different position, something very specialized in what you do. So I know I've been there and I'm sure there's other vets out there that are just kind of feeling like they're in a rut, like, hey, i don't want to be doing what I'm doing right now for the rest of my life within this industry. What would you say to try to encourage them or some avenues to try to look to go down?

Speaker 1:

You know, let's say you know, get out of your head and don't be afraid to take risk.

Speaker 1:

You know it may seem, you know you may even feel like you're not there yet You're not able to make that jump, or it's too risky or whatever it might be, but take it If it, you know, if it feels like it's a good opportunity for you and it could lead you in the direction that you want to ultimately end up in. Take the risk And I've been put in that position a couple of times throughout my you know civilian side career And I've, ultimately, i've taken the risk, i've made the jump And I haven't looked back. I haven't regretted it. I haven't regretted it. It's propelled me to new opportunities and growth. And I think if there, if I would, if I look back on some of those moments, and if I hadn't taken the risk or haven't, you know, got out, if I didn't get out of my own head and stayed where I was at, you know, i probably wouldn't have had the opportunities that later came my way or the growth that I've had since I've been out.

Speaker 1:

So the best advice I can say is you know we're we're taught a lot in the military about making decisions and and whatever it takes to get the job done and completing a mission. You know it's the same thing. you know, just look at it. You know, think about it And if it makes, if it looks like it can get you to where you want to be the end goal, the end of the mission then take that risk, take, do what you have to do to get there and and ultimately, make that decision, live with it and don't look back.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's good. I mean without the risk. There's no reward, right So? and in our industry.

Speaker 1:

It's kind of like the military a lot of times the higher ups of people. They're looking for people with initiative. They're looking for people with that can make decisions, that can do things you know to get the job done. And that's the great thing about us with the military background is we've lived and died by that way. That's been instilled in us So we're able to do that. And the people that are making that are hiring and making the decisions. Ultimately they're going to end up seeing that quality in you and you're going to grow. You know it might. You might have some setbacks here and there. I'm not saying it's always going to be the right decision, but ultimately the risk is going to be worth it in the long run because that you can't go wrong having a initiative attitude to get things done.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, for sure, and I don't think there's anything wrong with the guys that are staying someplace 30, 40 years. I think that's great And we definitely need those guys If they're happy.

Speaker 2:

You know, at the end of the day it's about you and your family and where you want your career to go, And I'm by no means am I encouraging like the great resignation again. But I think people should also look for those opportunities within their own company, like if this is a company you love and you just love the culture and the people you work with. However, maybe it's not the right position. Your supervisor probably wants to hear about that And maybe they can help you out and move you into that position where you're happy. It's better for the company.

Speaker 2:

So I wouldn't encourage somebody to just start looking right away, unless maybe that position just isn't in, you know, in your company at all. So the last question I got for you, calvin, is now we go back to our vets. Like the whole purpose of this is trying to really encourage vets to get into the industry, or even any young people at all. What would you say to that person that's transitioning out of the service to encourage them to try to look at this industry? So they're six months to a year out. What can they do now?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I would say, if you're interested in the industry and going to be looking at it, just to give it, you know, start looking into some courses that you may want to get into some schooling if you want to depend on where you want to end up or what type of role you want to end up in.

Speaker 1:

But if you get an opportunity, you know, go to a job site, go talk to some contractors, look up some of the bigger contractors in the market and maybe, you know, just let them know, you know, reach out to them. I know a lot of contractors, especially the owners of some big contracting companies, i should say, and they're great people and they love people with initiative and that are looking for opportunities And they're always looking for help nowadays, especially finding people that are wanting to work and wanting to get in the industry. They're excited about it nowadays. So I think right now is a great time. If you're looking to get into the industry and you think that that might be something for you as you transition out, I'd start reaching out some of the bigger contractors to see if you could come, you know, tag along for a day or internship, or start looking at some of those opportunities like that And you would be surprised what doors might end up opening up for you and just making a few phone calls or stopping by some sites or something.

Speaker 2:

That's a really good practical piece of advice. So I'm working on that myself too. I'm trying to get some students from UNT to walk the job. I've got a tour with the AIA young professionals next week to have them walk through the job And we just explain it to them. And yeah, i think that's great And I can speak from my experience too. If somebody's out there listening, you know. If you're in the Dallas, fort Worth area, by all means reach out to me. I love sharing what we do. I had a kid I say kid, he's probably 22, maybe We were looking at him for a possible position And he showed up at 6am on my job site. I was very impressed. Now he ended up. He found another opportunity, which stinks, but I'm like man, that's the kind of guy I want. He was just motivated.

Speaker 1:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

And he said all right, i'll see you there at 6am. Sure enough, he showed up right before me. So I was very impressed And there's a lot of other people out there like me that you just find a way to reach out to us, go on LinkedIn or find a way to reach out to the company And typically, if you're over 18, we're not going to have any problem with you walking the job site with us. You know, i took this guy into my meeting, showed him what I did when I'm having my form and huddle, and it was great. So I'm all about expanding that opportunity for folks And I'm also, you know, selfishly on my end I'm trying to look for, okay, who's going to be our next intern, who's going to be the superintendent someday that replaces me? So it's a very mutually beneficial relationship. We need them and they need an opportunity.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, and I'm the same way, and especially with military. I mean I'm open to anybody. when people reach out, i'll sit and talk to anybody and you know if you make time and you go eat, grab lunch, whatever. So you know, in a lot of times, by people like myself or you have worked with a lot of contracts or stuff you know people reach out, you know I can put them in touch with people. You know if they're, if they're excited and they're motivated and they're wanting to learn, i will never I would never turn my anybody away.

Speaker 2:

So say they wanted to get a hold of you. What's the best way to reach out? Calvin?

Speaker 1:

Yes, multiple avenues I've. So you know LinkedIn obviously is a great resource. I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on, and then you are a stag website, I'm on there, And then my email address is just my name, cmoleanx at stagindustrial. It's pretty simple. And then you know they can always reach out to me by phone or text. So I don't know if I should give that out, But it's 214-797. I would not suggest it.

Speaker 2:

You never know what kind of 2am call you're going to get if you get it.

Speaker 1:

Like I said, i have no problem. I like to talk to people, i'm a people's person, so And that website is stagindustrialcom.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

It is Yes Okay.

Speaker 2:

Very cool. Well, calvin man, i really appreciate your time. It's been good catching up with you And there's some good nuggets that I think people can get out of this. So thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, scott. I appreciate it. Man, i'm proud of you for what you're doing. I hope you keep it up and happy to do it, thanks for that man, Appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

If you're a military veteran in the construction industry or you're in the construction industry and support our military vets, then you'd like to be a guest on the podcast. You can find me at construction vet podcast at gmailcom, or send me a message on LinkedIn. You can find me there at Scott friend, Let's share the stories and motivate others.

Military to Civilian Transition Experience
Transition Into Industrial Real Estate
Military Background and Success in Construction
Opportunities and Misconceptions in Military Transition
Opportunities in the Construction Industry
Taking Risks for Career Growth
Opportunities in the Construction Industry