The Construction Veteran Podcast

From CBRN to Construction Recruiter: Luke Hill’s Transition from the Marine Corps

December 11, 2023 The Construction Veteran
The Construction Veteran Podcast
From CBRN to Construction Recruiter: Luke Hill’s Transition from the Marine Corps
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Picture this: you've just completed your service in the Marine Corps, where your specialized role as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense specialist has given you invaluable skills and unique experiences. What's the next step? For Luke Hill, it was a transition into the construction industry, a field often misunderstood as solely manual labor. Luke joins me in an enlightening conversation about his journey from the military to his current role as a recruiter in the construction industry. 

Luke's military background served as a powerful foundation in his transition to the civilian workforce, equipping him with diverse soft skills that have proven invaluable in his current role. However, this transition wasn't without its challenges. From initial arrogance to job hunting difficulties and a personal battle with alcoholism, Luke opens up about the tough realities many veterans face when navigating their way into the civilian world. Together, we share our experiences, highlighting the steep learning curve but emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive perspective.

Finally, we address the importance of supporting trade workers and acknowledging the impact of construction in our daily lives. We discuss the various career paths within the industry, shattering the misconception that construction is limited to manual labor. Luke and I also explore the valuable qualities that veterans bring into the construction industry, from team spirit to respect for others. So, whether you're a veteran considering a career in construction or just interested in the unique experiences of those who serve our country, tune in as we delve into these intriguing topics. And as a call to action, we encourage veterans and their supporters to share their stories and inspire others in the field. Let's forge connections and make a difference together.

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Speaker 1:

If you come in, you work hard, you're doing it, you're enjoying it and you're willing to learn. You really don't have a limit to how far you can go in this industry anymore.

Speaker 2:

This is the Construction Veteran Podcast, Connecting and celebrating veterans in construction. Now here's your host, Scott Friend. Welcome back to the Construction Veteran. I'm your host, Scott Friend. I'm really excited to bring to you guys a friend of mine who is a Marine Corps veteran and works currently in the construction industry as recruiter, Luke Hill. Let's dig into it, hey Luke. How's it going, man?

Speaker 1:

Hey, it's going good, Scott, how about you?

Speaker 2:

Really good, dude, I am really excited to finally get you on. Like many other shows kept kicking the can down the road because of the busy schedules. Luke and I know each other haven't officially met yet, but we have a soon-to-be fishing trip. Hopefully we both love the fish. Hopefully a haul-gutting trip sounds like coming up soon. We met through Matt Graves and Kyle Rendell's CM Mentors Podcast. We were both fortunate enough to be guests on there. He's a Texas guy also. He's down in the Houston area and I'm up here in Dallas. Did I get all that right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it's about right.

Speaker 2:

Very cool. We're going to get a little bit into what you did in the service and how you're related to the industry. Now, You're sort of industry-adjacent, I'll say. Even though you don't have a tool in your hands, you give people the tools to be successful in the industry. We both have the same mission, I'd say making sure our fellow vets succeed. Let's talk about what did you do in the service.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I was in the Marine Corps as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist, which is a really long way of saying I trained people in something that's not likely to ever happen. Or, if it is dark humor though it may be, we always joke that if we're being called, a lot of people have already gotten killed. Yeah it's, yeah it's. We always said it's the brake glass in case of emergency. Mos.

Speaker 2:

I like that that's good yeah.

Speaker 1:

I spent a lot of time on standby work with Intel section. A lot to find out hey, is there anything, anything going on right now that we need to be aware of or anything that we need to train on? It was really fun training, but I spent most of my time because of all that doing hazmat response training. We get in those big crazy suits with supplied air and spend two or three hours doing a drill of hey, here's a response or we'd work decon lines for the EOD team and even I actually got one time got a chance through some connections. We had to put together a training package for Marsock that you know. We had them on site for basically a month in our warehouse going through specialized training because they were going somewhere with a particular threat package that they needed to know what to do.

Speaker 1:

So yeah fun job but doesn't really mean a whole lot in the real world.

Speaker 2:

Hopefully not you never know, nowadays man. But yeah, so the acronym that people use for that is CBRN, and when you see the CBRN guys, that's bad.

Speaker 1:

That's not a good thing. Most people know us for running the gas chamber which, I'm not going to lie, was my favorite part of the job. I would always tell people you know, hey, you're going to follow all instructions coming from the center of the room. If you're not following instructions, you're going to have a bad time, you're going to cry. I'm going to laugh. That was always fun getting to run the gas chamber, especially if we got to do an outdoor one and get to throw the little canister grenades to people. I one time managed to land a canister during a field exercise inside the COC at the general's feet.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow, that was awesome, I bet you got a good laugh out of that, and I'm sure everybody else did too.

Speaker 1:

He came out there and he was like who threw that? But he pointed at me and he goes good shot Marine and walked off. Oh, I thought that was going a different direction.

Speaker 2:

Sure, no, that's good. So, as far as the CBs go, we didn't have CBRN folks, particularly as, like a RAIT or MOS, we had to train internally and, man, we hated those guys in the field exercise but they would chuck those canisters and you had to gas, gas, gas and mount up and get everything ready. But no, it's certainly a much needed role. You don't need it per se, but we definitely need it as a backup. So that's cool, man. I think you're one of the only CBRN guys I've interviewed, so that's neat.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's not a huge community. When I was on the Marine Corps, out of the I think it was 195,000 active duty Marines total, there was like six or 700 CBRN Marines. So like half of our time was spent actually training other Marines on. Hey, here's what you do if you have to operate in these environments. I don't know if you ever had to go through one of those classes where you spent a week in my gear, but again, I was the guy running that. So really unpopular in the Marine Corps and yeah, I'm a recruiter and sometimes the sentiment can feel the same.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, I bet you got some good soft skills out of that too, having to teach them, and I'm sure you had to teach a lot of folks well above your rank.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so that's a. I always talk about that when I talk about how I ended up in recruiting. It's a. I interviewed for a construction job actually in 2018, and the recruiting manager for that company was talking to me and asked you know, hey, so what does CBRN actually do? Because he had been an MP first sergeant, had an idea but wanted to hear how I presented it and I told him you know, hey, it's whether I had a room full of, you know, motor tea bubba's and I was teaching them how to use their gear.

Speaker 1:

You know, having to give a high level brief to. You know, I think the highest rank person I ever had in one of my classes three search chambers was a three star general who was at the time, the commander for all the Marines in Japan, and you know it's weird to know how to communicate with them, how to make the message land, and he liked that, I know. You know it gives you the ability to take those kind of complex topics and complicated subjects and things that people may not necessarily actually care about, and present it to them in a way that they'll understand, they'll listen and it matters for what they need to know, and it has worked out really well. You know Whether I'm talking to a superintendent in the field or talking to a CEO. You know you got to kind of know how to present your message and know how to yeah, no, no, no. What's going to be important for them to hear.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's, that's huge man, that communication and teaching and mentoring. I think that's good, just kind of to know your audience. So you talked, you kind of alluded to what you're doing now, which was going to be my next question. So first, how did you, what are you doing and how did you get into this from the Marine Corps?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I am a construction industry recruiter. I am the commercial construction team lead actually for my current firm, joseph Chris Partners executive search. I support commercial construction companies all over the country of all sizes with finding filling, hard to fill searches. Basically, I mean we support anything from superintendents through. You know we can do C level roles. They're not obviously not as common, but you know it's anything and everything. Yeah, they need help filling it. We'll chat with them and see if we're the right fit. Got into this from the Marine Corps because I mean, like I kind of talked about a little bit when I got out I had no idea what I wanted to do. I moved home after a brief stint trying to hang out in North Carolina and I didn't really have a sense of direction. I'd kind of lost some of that sense of purpose and one day my dad looked at me and he said you're going to get off my couch or I'm going to drag you to work turning wrenches because he's a heavy equipment repair guy.

Speaker 2:

Amen Good man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I needed that. He kind of, you know, gave me the stern kick in the ass to, you know, do something. And yeah, I'd come across a position that was part of a veteran apprenticeship program in the construction industry and specifically that one was for telecommunication towers construction. And when we were talking like that recruiting manager, just he thought I'd make a good recruiter and he said, hey, I've got kind of two options for you here. You can come and work with me in an air conditioned office helping get veterans into skilled trade careers, or you can go into a skilled trade career, climb a 400 foot tall tower every day, put equipment on it and, you know, be out there hanging hundreds of feet off the ground in 100 degree weather. Because I think at that time we were focused on California for where we were putting these guys to work and it was, you know, I think I'll take the air conditioned job, thanks.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm sure. Yeah, when I run across people sometimes kind of side note, and I mentioned that I work in construction and you know this heat that we get in Texas is brutal, especially the weather down there in Houston. There's a lot more humidity and you know I feel spoiled because I did interiors for a long long time and I said, no, I'm doing all right. You know I'm inside a lot of times occupied buildings that are already conditioned, so not too bad. So, in regard to the recruiting world, what do you think? So we've got so many MOSs and jobs out there and you're a great example. You were not construction related whatsoever. Do you really think that maybe any veteran could get into what you're doing if they're interested in recruiting?

Speaker 1:

I think most veterans can. You know it's. We've got another guy actually in the office here. He's a Air Force vet who came in and he was a drone I forget exactly what his title was, but he was helping pick out targets Nothing even close to like presenting and stuff and he just actually he's done really well, just got promoted in a year. But I think most vets can, because it's. You know, the hardest things about recruiting are, I mean, just out the bat. The hardest one is you deal with a lot of rejection. You deal with a lot of those and I mean, as you well know, the military teaches you you're going to. You know you can survive most things shy of a bullet, but you know it's. It's not going to somebody telling you know somebody cussing you out on the phone because you're the 50th recruiter to call them that day. You're going to brush it off and keep moving. You know we're very mission oriented, very goal oriented, and that's having those kinds of traits when you're in recruiting is it's extremely, it's an extremely valuable tool.

Speaker 2:

Very cool. Yeah, I can imagine there's a lot of uncomfortable cold calls, but when you're getting chewed out by a Sergeant Major, you know that's nothing getting somebody mad at you because you're the 50th person to call them. So you know you didn't really. You kind of fell into it, man. I mean it's very interesting that this is an additional role. I have not interviewed a recruiter yet and I think we both have this mission of trying to expose all the different facets of the industry. So I've had HR people on. Soon I'll have folks that do marketing, but I don't think a lot of emphasis is put on just all these construction adjacent roles. Is there any anything else that might pop into your mind like that people just don't think of when they think construction?

Speaker 1:

You know it's, the thing I hear the most when I talk to veterans about the construction industry is I don't want to swing a hammer. And I know you've heard it too, and I know I've heard you say that and it's man. There is so much more Like, and you know it's. I recently completed the crew collaborative ambassador program, which is a program designed to help people be ambassadors for the industry and specifically for the blue collar side of it. I've got a soft spot for the blue collar side. It's where I started. My career was in helping people get into those skilled trades. If you're not taking care of tradesmen, you are wrong.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

And my dad, as I mentioned, he's a heavy equipment repair mechanic. He has been for 40 years fixing caterpillar. You know caterpillar equipment and my grandfather before him ran a business doing exactly that and before that he worked for the Corps of Engineers doing it. So I always tell people you know it, whether whether you're directly in construction or construction adjacent there's so much opportunity that this industry offers and you know it's people take it for granted a lot. But I totally mentioned that program and kind of got off track from it.

Speaker 1:

But one of the things they talk about is every single road you drive on today, every single building you're in today, even if you're in your vehicle. Construction had a hand in getting that put together. And you know that's kind of my indirect tie on it. But my direct tie is, you know it's like I said, with my dad, my grandfather and myself. Now this is three generations of our family that have made our livings somehow, some way related to the industry. There's something for everybody. You can always find something and it's yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up too. Like driving around and looking at these buildings where my wife teases me because we'll go out to a restaurant and, like my head's on a swivel, just like, wow, oh, that looks bad. Or wow, how did they, how did they build that? And and all the people that touch the product as it's being built and manufactured and then going into place, and the people that trucked it to the job site and inspected it made sure it worked. It's just, it's unbelievable and we have a dire need for a lot of these people. We're really struggling as an industry to get people into it. But I don't, like you said, everybody, I don't want to swing a hammer, I don't want to dig a ditch. I get it. I mean, I'll use, I'll tease your Air Force guy there for a little bit. Like the Air Force guys, they want to sit in that comfy office. But there's, there's, there's roles for that as well. I mean there's roles in the design world, there's roles in quality control, and you don't necessarily have to have your hands on those tools.

Speaker 2:

I I didn't know too much about it when I got into the commercial world. I knew carpentry, but I thought it was so fascinating to see the walls go up and and find out, like, what's in those walls. So I've told people, I'll give you a quick story. So, like when I'm training a new guy and maybe they don't understand drawings very well, I like to read my drawings backwards, and what I mean by that is I'll go and look at, okay, if there's a TV on the wall or there's a toilet, you know, in this restroom I build it backwards, thinking, okay, how am I getting power to that TV?

Speaker 2:

Where's it being routed from? Where's the electrical room? You know, how are we? How are we bringing power into the building? And the same thing with the plumbing Where's that water being supplied from? Is it needing to be pumped? What are the size of the lines? And so that's that. Nothing against the general public by any means, but that's just the stuff that people don't think about, and so I'm really glad you brought that up. So I'm gonna I'm gonna switch gears here real quick. So we talked a little bit about some of the soft skills that you brought from the Marine Corps. So we had that mentorship and leadership and teaching and training. How else do you think the service has helped prepare you for what you're doing now?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of the biggest things that you know, it's the probably the number one thing everybody tells me they miss when they get out. And that's the camaraderie and the reason I touch on that. It's because you know you can take somebody in the Marine Corps who had it's just my example I always think of on. You know, if you go out on in the barracks on a Friday night you can run across some kid who lived on a literal farm in Oklahoma and had never left his hometown and find him. You know it's, it's the joke that you always hear is you got the farm boy listening to a trap house music with you know some guy who grew up in New York City, or you know it's, it's, it doesn't matter, you're all. The military does a great job of telling you your history. Doesn't matter where you came from. Nobody cares really, even the people you didn't really necessarily super get along with. You know they've got your back. You know they are there for you. And again, the reason I touch on all of this is because I think it makes it so easy to integrate with a team. It makes it so easy to want to take care of people. I mentioned it a few weeks ago on the see, the Veterans Day or the Marine Corps birthday, I mentioned that.

Speaker 1:

I think one of my biggest takeaways is that one of the biggest change that happened for me when I got in the military, between joining and leaving, is it just kind of gave me like a profound respect and love for the people around me. And that's me sound super touchy feely, but I legitimately truly came out of it wanting what's best for everybody around me and I think that's invaluable, no matter where you go, but especially in construction, when you're talking about it, it lets us be very safety minded. It lets us be very goal oriented. You know I mean you're super. You know your job is get everyone home safe at the end of the day, get the project done on on time or ahead of time and with no quality issues, and if you're doing that, then you're taking care of your owner. If you're doing that, you're taking care of your subcontractors. If you're doing that, you're taking care of all those people's families.

Speaker 1:

So it's I think that's one thing it's kind of a hard one to describe and then we all I mean we all come out of it with. It's even what you were talking about with with. You know if that toilet's there, how does the water get there? How does everything move to come together to get that toilet there? I mean you're starting with the end in mind that, just like anytime you plan an exercise or an often the military you start with your desired end state and you work backwards. It's very strategic and tactical thinking that it's ingrained in you from day one. Those are all things I think are tools that the military gave me that I think I excel with now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah for sure, man. I love asking that question too, because rarely I don't think anybody's answered with well, I learned this technical skill. It's it's these soft skills that we carry the stress management, the ability to put these plans together. You know, boot camp, basic training, whatever branch you went into, that it's a culture shock for anybody. Like you said, the farm kid that meets the kid from New York and he's jammed out to trap, music or whatever. But you, you're forced into that.

Speaker 2:

Where we've taken a huge focus within the last few years on diversity in the industry and it's important to know. You know there's a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds who have a lot to offer and have their different perspectives. Where I think we've taken that shift within the last decade of just shut up and do your job, to hold on. I have a different way of looking at this. So this person from this background or this gender or whatever it had, you know they're going to look at something a different way I had.

Speaker 2:

I had a guy I worked with a few years ago that said something really powerful to me that it's really resonated. He said I like to hire people that don't look like me, and his thing was he wanted all these individuals to not not necessarily tell them he's wrong, but to give a different perspective onto the issue that they're going to face. And man in the field, for sure I don't care if it's 20 guys, 200, 2000 people. You know you're going to have a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, different trades, and I've had drywallers. I can remember an incident I had a drywaller that gave a great suggestion to a mechanical guy who had a problem. This drywaller was not an HVAC technician but he came up with a solution that we could get some stuff installed and I think that has, at least within the last few years. It's really improved, I guess, and it's very encouraging. But we're already bred to do that. Coming out of the service, we're kind of forced to do it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean it's. People don't often think about it. It's probably the opposite of what kids portrayed, but veterans are oftentimes some of the most open minded people you meet. Now we're going to be maybe hard nosed, open minded I don't know if that makes any sense, but I'm sure you get what I'm getting at. But, like we all know, like, hey, just everybody I think almost everybody coming out of the service has that kind of mindset of you know, hey, there's a million and one different ways to do something. I should probably hear out most people's feedback, you know, aside from not not to get you into an endless, you know debate on it, but maybe it's just like you said, somebody's going to have a perspective. That's probably going to be pretty valuable for you to hear and I think, again, that's a very valuable trait we pick up. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I think that that kind of leads into humility too, is it's? There's a lot of pride not in a bad way, sometimes in a bad way though that comes with being a superintendent. You know, the buck stops with with me in the field and I have to humble myself, partially because of you know, I'm in my late 30s but I still I might have a lot of knowledge, but there's still guys that have been doing this decades, longer than I have. So I had to humble myself and say, okay, this dude is an expert, I'm going to listen to what he's saying, but it works both ways to. There might be an apprentice or a brand new journeyman that has a way to look at things and I'm going to say, all right, dude's got a point. You know we can do this a different way.

Speaker 2:

And I'll say, in the service you're really forced to do that. Especially. You got these NCOs and senior NCOs and you got the brand new officer butter bar that comes in these 22, 23 years old. That guy's in charge, but a good junior officer is going to say, hey, okay, I am an experienced in this. Though I make the call, I'm going to listen to that gunnery sergeant or whomever that staff sergeant that has the know it, all that's been through these deployments that serve 10 plus years to make that call, so they're not doing it by themselves.

Speaker 2:

Now you do have a lot of officers that are like that, that are that are not like that, excuse me that. Well, I'm in charge and okay, roger, that I'm going to go to the CO now and we're going to do it my way, and it happens in the field too. Man, I will admit I was that guy when I first got out of the service that I had the position and it was this well, you know, I hold on a second. I outrank you you're going to listen to me but I had no experience, and so it took a while to humble myself. So I did a bad job and I don't want people to do that. I want people to come out knowing you've got these skills. But there's a lot of people out there that are way further in their career from you and you need to hear them out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think that's it's. Again it made me think of when I was in in the Marine Corps. At my last unit we had a. We had a lieutenant in our unit who was in charge of our base properties account, so anything happen to do with, like, our building, our furniture in the building, whatever. He was the one who managed the system that we could use to put in purchase orders. We were trying to buy new furniture for the office because we had it allocated that year, but there was something with that system that was wrong and I don't remember exactly what it was. But we were delinquent on something and it had been delinquent for over two years. Said Lieutenant was responsible for that and thought that because he was a Mustang, he'd done for three years and listed in the band and then converted over to his own lieutenant. So he thought I'm gonna keep my comments myself on that one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I'm any who, but I mean he was like 24 or 25, something like that, and my Chief Warren officer had been down there to ask him about this for months. Chief Warren officer, he was a four or a three at the time. He retired a few years ago, so four, but he I mean he'd been in 23 or 24 years. He was been in the Marine Corps since this guy was in diapers and down there talking to him and he said listen, this is at a point that it's impeding people's ability to do their jobs, to impeding our ability to get new equipment which is impacting my Marines and because this is on you to correct it. And the lieutenant said well, sir, the last time I checked, one of us has a commission and one of us has a warrant so.

Speaker 1:

I might watch something. I'd appreciate if you watched your tone, or something like that. Well, he said that, and standing right behind him, not to his knowledge, was our exo, who was a major with almost 30 years in, and he said if you're enlisted or if you're not, this lieutenant or this Chief Warren officer, get off the deck right now.

Speaker 1:

And we disappeared for a while because, you know, hey, made it very clear that you know, sometimes experience matters a hell of a lot more than that congressional appointment or you know, whatever your, your commission does and that's a lesson I didn't forget the lieutenant showed up at our door an hour later, looking like he had tears in his eyes, and apologized for the tone he took with our Chief Warren officer yeah, well, and I got to give hats off to that that warrant officer too, because the way he had handled that and approached that situation respectfully, I think was very wise, and that's not something you typically run to or run into in the field.

Speaker 2:

There are a lot of guys that beat their chest. I've been doing this for so many years. You you don't know what the hell you're talking about, even though you know I'm higher on the pecking order, if you will. But I always take a respectful tone back to them or I really appreciate the guys when they challenge me. Hey, I don't know as much as you. I appreciate you bringing that up. So it sounds like that the LT maybe needed to humble himself a little bit, but but cheers to that warrant officer that did approach it that way and I'm sure the XO was not as light on him you know the Chief Warren officer he put me.

Speaker 1:

He taught me a lot. We lost our when I joined that unit. Within three months we lost our staff sergeant to. He got tapped to go to run the CBRN program from our sock and we were left without any one in. But I was a corporal, had only been a corporal for like six months and we didn't have anybody between me and the chief warrant officer. I was, you know, supervising.

Speaker 1:

I think we had three or four junior Marines at the time and he really spent a lot of time trying to teach me how to lead and how to. You know, hey, you've got a lot on your shoulders now because we don't have another NCO and we don't have a staff NCO. So I he's one of the best leaders I've ever worked for. I credit him with a lot of my, a lot of the leadership lessons I've taken on him and the company gunnery sergeant at that unit. They both understood there's a big burden on you as a 21 year old kid with who's got a way in and a room full of angry, salty gunnies and, you know, master sergeants, and both, you know, made it a point to teach me how to do that and to teach me of the confidence to stand at that table and give my opinion. And and you know, hey, I'm not the same rank as any of y'all, that I'm a chief. Here too, I'm a section chief. It's my responsibility to be in here. You can't just dismiss me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, I hope he listens to this, I hope you share it. That's, that's awesome and he I'm glad you gave him the shout out for that. So I do have some non-veteran, non-military folks that do listen, so real quick for for those that do and Warren officers basically a very seasoned enlisted person that it's kind of an enemy intermediate rank between them. They are an officer, they're not a commissioned officer, but they are the technical experts at what they do and that is the wrong person to try to step up to yeah.

Speaker 2:

I would liken them to maybe like a very seasoned superintendent, whether it be with the trade or the general contractor that maybe a junior construction manager is trying to bow up to. So these are the people that that are leading the charge and have gone through the muck with people, so like that general super from your trade.

Speaker 1:

That's out there yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2:

So let's talk about the journey that that you took. So I assume you joined straight out of high school, got out after your first enlistment and you kind of fell into this. Do you think, if you were to go back, whether it's in the Marine Corps or when you first got out, is there anything about your journey that maybe not necessarily you would change, but anything that you think would have made it a smoother transition?

Speaker 1:

man, I I look back at just. I think I had a lot of air against and a lot of guys do for one. I'm not gonna bash it as hard as I have before sometimes, but the taps program when I went through, had some pretty serious flaws that I didn't know to look out for. But I would go back and tell myself, come up with better plans. I'd tell myself to start my transition a hell of a lot earlier than I did and not try to leave the military behind entirely like I did. I tried to separate myself from it and and now I had had anything to do with the military community and that was the stupidest thing I've done. Man, I needed to tell myself to just be a lot more humble.

Speaker 1:

I got out with this thought in mind that, hey, you know, I was a technical, not an, you know, expert, but you know, I had a very technical job and I was teaching it to other people and leading a team of Marines who were also teaching other people, and I just had this thought in my head that you know, hey, that means I'm gonna walk out and you know, have an easy time. I just kind of a little cocky, I think. And when I was interviewing for jobs. That was definitely a problem and you know, the only plan I'd had was I'm gonna get out. And I was going through the hiring process for the Texas State Troopers and thank God that didn't work out. That was not the right path for me but you know, when it fell apart, I just started getting real arrogant and had a chip on my shoulder and it set me up for some failure and yeah, also tell myself stay in shape a little better.

Speaker 1:

I was, yeah yeah get the hell out of the bottle. That's and it's. I'd say that I I mean, I'm not shy about sharing that I was when I got out. I was drinking too much, I was not. I was kind of directionless for a while and I didn't reach out to anybody about any of the problems I was going through and it kind of took meeting my wife to set me straight yeah, no, I'm glad you're humble enough to share that too, and I think a lot of us face that.

Speaker 2:

I think the culture with that has changed significantly, where people are more accepting or understanding. I should say that we have these issues no matter what your role or job was or branch that you served in. And I want to touch on something you said to the the preparation for getting out. I know me and a lot of other people face this, where I flip flopped a lot. I wanted I was a man, I'm gonna be a 20 plus year guy, I'm gonna retire and life changes and I, you know I had plans when I got out and this is gonna happen. Well, then I got married and I had kids and plans changed again. So I would really suggest people be flexible. You got to start early and listen to stuff. Like you know, this podcast or yours off the hook with Erica and Luke.

Speaker 1:

So there's your plug and I'll let you.

Speaker 2:

I'll let you talk about that here in a little bit. But you know, make, make preparations. I think that information is much more easily accessible now than it was even a decade ago. I mean just all the resources that are out there if you think, even if you think you're gonna get out and you don't like, at least prepare yourself. You've got the time.

Speaker 1:

These, these programs like skill bridge, these guys are going through six to 12 months of preparation, and so there's really no excuse to not prepare you know, had I thought about it, I probably would have said, if I could go back and do one thing different, I probably would have told myself to find a skill bridge. That is the coolest program that nobody talks about in the Marine Corps. I did not hear the word skill bridge until I've been out for two years, but that is yeah. I had one of the the stupidest things I did when I was getting out.

Speaker 1:

When I decided I was getting out, which some, some of these decisions I let a person who was in my life at that time and no longer is and was not in my life for very long after I got out for a lot of good reasons, but I let that person influence my decision-making and you really got to make some decisions for yourself. I almost re-enlisted with I had a package together and I didn't go through with it and because of the way I went about that, I almost burned some bridges with some very important people that were good friends of mine at the time. I just yeah, it's, be careful about who's around you is a piece of advice I always try to share with other vets and transitioning military and and I would have told myself stop trying to not go back home.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I actually tried. I really struggled, man, when I got out even my wife. So this is when we were dating, like early days of dating I tried so hard to get back in and I'm actually glad a lot of the doors were shut. I went to what I thought, every single branch. I didn't. I didn't really know much about the National Guard at the time. I probably could have gotten into the guard, but I went back to the Navy and they weren't taking anybody. I went to the Marine Corps and I was an NCO.

Speaker 2:

When I got out they said, yeah, you ought to start, and I'm thinking you got to start over. I'm going, I'm not going to have some 18 year old kid that's never been a combat trying to push me around and that was just a lack of humility. But yeah, that I think a lot of people have that struggle, man, because we miss something. And just I think, naturally as humans we don't. We don't really remember a lot of the bad times, and not that we don't remember them, we just I believe that we frequently remember a lot of the good times. This is what I miss. This sucks, you know.

Speaker 2:

I'm out in the working world, I miss my buddies, but I really think that this industry offers that. They offer, yeah, the teamwork, the goal, the accountability. It's not as easy because you don't have you know, right time, right place, right uniform. Of course, it's not that there's a lot of responsibility on you as an adult now to do your job and make your own living. Nobody's going to guide you along the way. But that doesn't mean there's not mentors that will help. So I think I failed. If I were to go back and change it, I would try to find some mentors earlier and, if you're still in, find them now, man. I mean, linkedin is such a great tool, all these resources that we talk about it's. It's foolish to think that you will not find one person to guide you through the process.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you don't have to do it alone. That is I tried and I thought, oh, I'm just going to. You know it's. I was hell bent on not coming back to Houston. I was hell bent on doing things by myself because I thought I thought people cared a lot more than what they did about what I was doing. And here's the secret Nobody cared, and even if they had caring, about what they thought was what was the wrong train of thought. But yeah it, I. A mentor is a great thing to have. So please reach out to someone. I'm, I'm available. There's a lot of us in the industry. There's a lot of us. Just even if you're not looking at construction and you somehow stumbled across this, there's a lot of people out there that are available as resources and will freely give of their time to help another veteran get on better. Roddy, like that, is full of people, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and every guest I've had, everybody has said that, like you know, they're open and willing. Some of the guys that I've had on have even put their cell phones out there. I advise against that, but you know, I don't know, I don't know. Apparently, my Spotify wrapped said that I was listened to in like five countries, so be careful. Oh, wow, too much info. But yeah, I mean there, I've had guys at the tip of the spear on this show and they're super humble. Everybody that's been on here has said you know, reach out to me like we crave, that we want to help you succeed, so utilize the tools. And if you don't, I mean this is going to sound very cold, but I, if you're not willing to take that first step, then I don't want to help you. You got to. You have to take the first step and reaching out and saying this is what I want to do. We want that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I won't put my personal cell out there. If you can find my LinkedIn, you can find my work line, you can find my email and my. I'll make sure that you put that in the notes, I guess.

Speaker 2:

But yeah man it's.

Speaker 1:

If you reach out looking for help, I will do everything I can to help you. I will do my best and if I'm not the right resource, I'll try to find the right resource or tell you who is. I built a pretty good network of other veteran advocates or veterans who are in similar positions in other industries that I will point you to and I'll throw every resource I have in the world at you. If you're in Houston, or if you're in Texas, rather, I can actually check you in to the Texas Veterans Network through their mobile app. You just give me some information and permission to do it. I'll have them contact you, yeah man, I love that.

Speaker 2:

You said that if you don't know, you're going to find somebody who does. That alone is a good skill I think we come away with. That might be a little suppressed in the military sometimes that I don't know, but we're going to use our network to find people and if it's not in construction, a lot of us, especially you know guys like you and me. They're bold enough to put ourselves out there doing podcasts and social networking. We're not shy, so we're going to do our best to try to support you. So let me, let me take a turn here. So you kind of mentioned the drinking. Earlier I had this, a similar issue.

Speaker 2:

This industry beats us up a lot, especially in the field. Field is extremely difficult. Sometimes it's extremely rewarding. So there's there's kind of the opposite ends of the spectrum there. But I've met a lot of other veterans that struggle and you know they don't know if this is for them, especially that first I'd say one to five year period of transition. If there's somebody listening that is getting out or has gotten out recently within that time period and they're just like man, these guys are talking about construction. Well, this sucks. I don't want to do this anymore. What would you say, luke, to try to encourage those folks to stay in this industry?

Speaker 1:

There's a steep learning curve to it. I am what, sorry? I just stared at my calendar to see I'm six years out of the military and I still think every single day wow, I'm still going through transition. There are days I wake up and I think to myself hey, I used to wake up in the morning, go for, you know, either a two or three mile run or a 1500 meter swim and then do whichever. I didn't do that morning in the evening and I'd spend my whole day running around in hazmat gear or whatever, and I just kind of have that sense of I really used to be a badass. What am I doing? No-transcript.

Speaker 1:

And the highs for me, what carries me when I'm having a low or when I have something like that, is just the huge positive changes and impacts that I can have on people. The highs are so worth the lows in this industry. I mean, I'm sure for you, you know, doing a turnover of a project, you know an end-user to an owner, and especially if you get to do something really cool with it, like you know, I'm sure, that's just such a rewarding feeling of knowing man, we close that up, especially if it was difficult, especially if it's something that's, you know, really impactful for someone. But just stick to it, man. There was a point no matter what you say, everybody felt it, even if you don't admit it. In boot camp, basic training, whatever your branch called it there was a point where you thought to yourself what am I doing? Why am I here? All my friends went to college. I should be with them. Yeah, good point. I guarantee you don't regret it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know we talk about that timeline. The reason I say that one to five year personally is I had a guy early in my career that very directly told me. He said look, if you're not really getting this after about five years of doing what you're doing, maybe it's not the right industry for you. Because I struggled this was probably the second or third year in. I'm like man did I make the right choice? And then when things started clicking because, like you said, it is a really steep learning curve because there's so much to learn, especially on the general contractor side we have to know a little bit about everything. You know I'm not a master electrician or plumber, but I've got to know enough to guide these guys in the right way to get this stuff installed and understand how they interact with the other trades. And that was really stressful for me at first. But once it started to click, I can still remember reaching back out to that mentor of mine who's still a friend today. He's actually going to retire here within the next couple of years from the industry Really good mentor. And I told him. I said I get it and he had told me on a job site. Once he's like man, you know he's teasing me. One of these days you're going to call me and I'm like this guy's full of crap, like he's. I'm just mad at him because I was stressed, like that's not what I wanted to hear. But I remember that day and I called him like hey, man, you were right, I get. He's like oh, I know I was right, I knew it was coming.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, it's a struggle at first but, just like you said, like going through boot camp it's. It's a lot worse for some people than it is for others. I had a tough time because it is the first time I've been away from my family for any period of time. I I never really was in an environment like that, getting pushed that hard. And so you look back now and you're like gosh, that was a breeze man. What an easy day. That was compared to like a deployment or same thing. In the industry. I've had really hard jobs and I'm like, man, how am I going to make it through this? But looking back I'm like, okay, I think God was preparing me for maybe a tougher project. Somehow I was being prepped for this leadership position. So I mean, I agree with you, those people that are struggling. There's, there's, there's a lot more runway ahead of you and you're going to look back and go. Man, that wasn't so bad after all.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's. I have a lot of times where I'll find myself sharing some advice with one of our newer employees or somebody you know and talking with them and sharing some input and realizing, wow, okay, when I went through that problem I thought it was the end of the world. Here I am and it's, I'm fine. And again, for me, at the end of the day, no matter how hard it is, it's. I know I'm going home to my wife, I know I've got a roof over my head. I know I try to just take that perspective I've come a long way. I've got a long way to keep going. I am impatient sometimes with my ambition, but I'm only 29 years old. 28 years old, I'll be 29.

Speaker 2:

You're not that old to start forgetting your age.

Speaker 1:

I found out one of my cousins, his kids eight. Today I found that out and I'll bring me for a loop. And I did not. I thought that kid was for us.

Speaker 2:

My nephew's in his early 20s and I still see him as a toddler sometimes. I love him to death.

Speaker 1:

My nephew is yeah, he just turned three, and that blows my mind like, oh my gosh, my brother has a three year old kid, Wow Well yeah, your blessings.

Speaker 2:

It sounds like you know you look at that roof over your head. You count your blessings every day. Yeah, today sucked. And look at it as a positive. You're not stuck in a country overseas getting bombs lobbed at you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what's that Sturgill Simpson song? You can have the crown. He says at least I'm not sitting in a desert, or not in a hot damn desert in the middle of a tank, or something like that.

Speaker 2:

My six year old. I love it. She does this. She'll have a bad, something happens. Oh, this is the worst day of my life. It's humorous to us, but it really is. It's all relative.

Speaker 2:

So you look at that person that's a year or two into their career and you're like buddy, you have no idea. And I still remember having a conversation with a field engineer. He's brand new, maybe a year into his career, and this was an amazing project. Like everything was awesome, we were profitable, everybody was jiving Great customer, great subs, awesome team and like something happened, like he had a bad day. And I'm like dude, you're going to look back at this project and go, wow, I really wish I was back there. So really understand that it really is all relative, count your blessings and there's another project that's going to come around. You're not going to have more than likely I can't say this is a fact, but more than likely you're not going to have a project that takes up the duration of your career. You might have a working interiors. You're doing three, four month jobs. You might have a base building ground up where you're working, a few years maybe, but there's going to be something after that. So you got to have the grit and stick it out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that's all it is. Like you just got to keep pushing through it. Like I remember, two, three weeks ago I had a pretty rough couple of days that just, you know, it seemed like a few things just kind of hit back to back. It was like man that sucks. And then the next day I got a call from one of my old clients that I've done a lot of work with in the past and they said, hey, we've got some new needs, can you help us tackle this? And then, like 20 minutes after that, I got an email from another client who's one of my favorites, and they said hey, we need some support on something. And then, you know, a couple of days later, I got some more from another. It's just, it's, yeah, I mean it's going to come in waves, but it's, it gets better.

Speaker 2:

Just wait it out. It's a roller coaster for sure Ups and downs.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, cool. And my final question here Luke man, I really appreciate again your time and and I've I've been really enjoying getting to know you man. I mean Luke and I exchange texts. I mean, gosh, it's almost daily at this point, but you know, we're both avid outdoorsmen, both have the same passion of really driving this industry and trying to backfill a lot of these openings that we have, and we're definitely hitting a nerve here with our veteran community. So if we've got people listening that are transitioning out, what would Luke say to that person to try to encourage them? They're looking at all these career paths. What would you say to encourage them to get into this industry?

Speaker 1:

And the things I tell people is it's dynamic. You never do the same thing twice. You do a lot of the same stuff, but you know it's. You're always building for a different client, a different customer, a different product, or you're going to run into different conditions on each one. That's a big one for two.

Speaker 1:

Don't let anybody tell you construction doesn't pay well, because that is. I have conversations every single day with people about compensation and that is just a lie. It's not everything pays great, but the money, and it doesn't always pay great at the start, but the money is there to be made. Everything has to get built and to get built, someone has to get paid to build it, so that's just there. There's always going to be something in construction. Pardon my French, but you just get to build some really cool shit. Sometimes I don't know it's. You're a super, so I know you feel it.

Speaker 1:

But there some of the coolest conversations I have are when I talk to people about iconic projects they've done. I talked with a guy recently who built this really cool roller coaster that I happen to know because I've been to the park it's in, and I was like, holy crap, you were super intended for that. He's like that's probably the coolest thing I've ever done, talked about it with a bunch of pride. You know it's there, there is so much. There's a lot of pride. You know it's it's. You know, you were talking about it earlier, driving around and pointing things out that you built. Man, it's just there. There's so much opportunity and there is so much need for more people to get in. That is the number one concern of probably every executive I talked to in this industry is the labor shortage and the people that are leaving the business because it's just going to get worse. If you come in, you work hard, you're doing it, you're enjoying it and you're willing to learn. You really don't have a limit to how far you can go in this industry anymore.

Speaker 2:

Very cool. Well, man, how can people get a hold of you, Luke?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, best way is my LinkedIn, which if you look up just Luke Hill, I guess I'll have you put the link. But it's Luke Hill Construction Recruiter is my little like a back end tag line there. If you look up the hashtag the fishing recruiter on LinkedIn, that'll take you to my posts.

Speaker 2:

I never noticed that. That's cool man, Good for you.

Speaker 1:

Tag most of my stuff is the fishing recruiter, so it's all in one spot, and if anybody wants to follow it they can. But that's my little brand.

Speaker 2:

Now you have fishing guides reaching out to you.

Speaker 1:

Hey, I'm okay with that. I like always use another fishing guide in my network. Yeah, yeah, I mean, if you want to get a hold of me, LinkedIn is an easy spot to get me. You can send me a call or a text my phone numbers in my headline there. Email I've got a podcast called Off the Hook with Erica and Luke where we talk about construction with construction leaders. I'm all over the place. Shoot. If you can't find me for some reason, send Scott a message and I'll have him connect you.

Speaker 2:

Very cool. Appreciate you, Luke.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, scott, it was fun.

Speaker 2:

If you're a military veteran in the construction industry or you're in the construction industry and support our military vets and 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.

Connecting Veterans to Construction Industry
Veteran Recruitment and Construction Industry Opportunities
Integration in Military and Construction Fields
Transitioning From Military to Civilian Life
Encouraging Those in the Industry
Connecting Military Veterans in Construction Industry