For those former homebuilder and land development employees (myself included), the heady days of construction from the late 1990′s through 2007 seem a very distant and bittersweet memory. For the most part, our industry is barely a whisper of what it once was. Most of my friends and fellow employees either tried finding jobs in adjacent industries or in many cases, are still struggling to find work.
For three decades, I have worked as a land development professional for private and public homebuilders and master land development companies. Experienced in both field and management positions, started as a landscape, grading and offsite superintendent, later promoted into postings as Director of Operations, Land Development Manager and Director of Land Development. Yet with all that experience, not to mention a Bachelor of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture, being a C-27 California Landscape Contractor, and a certified consulting arborist and certified tree risk assessor, I was unable to locate employment in the construction industry.
I don’t think my situation is unique at all. In fact, most of my construction peers have experienced the same frustration. It seems the residential construction and land development industry has disappeared and there has been no government assistance, programs or incentives to help revive our industry. Forget about finding a job in commercial construction or highway projects, those industries have no interest in our residential experience. Doesn’t seem to matter how many roads and utilities I supervised, built or managed, land development experience did not translate into employment opportunities in adjacent industries.
I decided years ago to no longer remain reliant on the prospects of finding decent employment in the construction industry. A business acquaintance suggested my experience qualified me as a construction expert witness. After speaking with other professionals and attorneys, research and financial investment, I opened my own professional consultancy in 2008, offering expert witness and professional consulting services in land development, landscape, arboriculture, and horticulture.
What a gratifying experience to have decades of experience and age respected and sought after by attorneys and business professionals. Learning how to be an expert witness has been an exhilarating experience. Like any neophyte, I have made a few minor errors, fortunately nothing serious. I have joined expert witness and other professional associations and really broadened my experience and education. As a certified arborist, I’ve had opportunities working with property owners providing tree risk and health assessments and an oak tree construction preservation project as part of the SDG&E Sunrise Powerlink Project.
I remain hopeful the day will come when the residential homebuilders and land development companies will start building again. We need construction, it provides the jobs, steady incomes and new homes for new generations of families. As the economy continues to improve, projects will get off the ground again. As companies come out of the recession and start new projects, they are typically understaffed and reluctant to hire new permanent employees. In this environment, “renting” an experienced land development consultant to assist in the field or office makes perfect business sense.
So, all of you homebuilders and developers, when you are ready to start a project and need an experienced, results driven land development professional, give me a call, I have been waiting a long time for you!