My Step-Father Inspired Me To Become A Construction Accountant

I was raised in a construction family in Seattle Washington in a quaint little house in the Interbay neighborhood, nestled in between Queen Anne to the east and Magnolia to west. It is also home to a railway switchyard which means in the 1960’s it was a great place for a young man to have some “Character Building Experiences” as it was a rough and tumble, tough and gritty place to hang out.

My Step Father was a Landscape Contractor and he was my inspiration for going into construction and later becoming The Contractors Accountant. This is his and my story of how it happened.

Why I am writing this article is because it occurred to me that I may be coming across as a bit stern and serious. The reality is I am simply a Great Big Teddy Bear that loves accounting and helping contractors achieve their definition of success and anyone who has anything to do with building, remodeling or maintaining our homes and businesses.

I wrote this article to give an insight into contractors and who I am, what I do and why I do it...every chance I get….but only on days that end in “y”  like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and perhaps you can relate to this story in your own life. For further insights I have an entire section of this website devoted to Construction Psychology.

My stepfather was my inspiration. He was average height, weight and build born in the early 1930's and raised on a farm in the heartland of America. He started a construction related firm offering handyman services and landscaping in the 1940's and retired in the 1990’s having owned and operated it for over 50 years.

He was a Salt of The Earth Contractor as described later in this profile because he worked practically every weekday and the occasional Saturday all of those years, only taking Sunday off as instructed.

He made sales and did the work even though he was born with severe physical handicaps. He exemplified the concept “In life you produce reasons or results, and reasons don’t count.”

I first met him shortly before he met and married my mother in 1965. Subsequently I worked in the family business and every week, and sometimes more often he would encourage me, very strongly, to go to college and if I still wanted to be involved with construction that would be O.K.

It was several years out of college before I understood the differences between regular accounting and construction accounting and had to repeat the Four Levels of Learning again.

During those years, he passed on his protestant work ethic and the importance of “keep-on-keeping-on” with a type of Winston Churchill attitude of “Never Give Up.”

He led by example by never quitting when it rained, snowed, bitter cold or blazing heat. When the ground was so hard it required a pick & shovel, or the rocks weighed several hundred pounds and need be moved with a long steel bar he applied more brute strength as needed. The man worked in any and all tough nasty conditions.

He always made enough money to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs; however, he never made a lot of money, which means I learned how to live well and be happy no matter what the income level.

He taught lessons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency by the way he lived. Even now when I read Emerson’s essay on Self Reliance I visualize him and can see the determination and strength of character in his face.

His favorite book was “The Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” also known as The Holy Bible. It had a strong and positive influence on him and helped shape his views and it is my favorite book as well.

While was growing up it seemed to me that he was not very smart or bright and in my arrogant Sophomoric opinion, “he just didn’t get it.” However, the Universe has a sense of humor and It allows me to continue my education by taking many tests and learning the lessons It has prepared for me. Its patience is endless because It allows me to repeat the tests until I finally learned the lesson. Then a new test appears and the cycle is repeated endlessly, test, and learn, test, and learn.

A wonderful test presented Itself when I met a wonderful young lady Sharie while attending Queen Anne high school. We graduated in 1972 and were married in 1973. As of today we are near to celebrating 40 years of marriage; however, it feels like only 2 years as we still feel like newlyweds.

We moved into our first apartment and the Universe presented me with a brand new test which I named “do I understand it yet?” The arrogant Sophomore in me began to grow up and understood life at a new level and I reverted back to being a Freshman.

Suddenly I had to provide ALL the money to keep a roof over our heads, food on our table, and clothes on our backs. At that moment in time my step father became the wisest man on earth and for the first time I understood he "did get it" all along and in fact he was simply waiting patiently until I got it…and I got it…real good and real fast!

A large part of what shapes my passion for providing consulting and accounting services for contractors is out of love and respect for my stepfather and how he ran his business. I will be eternally grateful to him for the lessons he passed on by the way he lived his life.

Over the years, I have been privileged to work with many contractors and have developed several observations that I call Randalisms. This one is The Three Types of Contractors:

  • Dog And Pick-Up Truck

This is a Contractor with a pick-up truck and the dog sitting in the passenger seat hanging his head out window enjoying the fresh air while watching the world go by.  This contractor enjoys the freedom of doing what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants and does not need or want to expand and grow his or her business or be bothered with employees.

Annual net profit after all expenses roughly $20K to $40K

  • Salt of The Earth

This Contractor wants to expand and grow their business in order to have more free time and perhaps even put money away for retirement. This contractor has three employees. They hold two of them by the throat; one in each hand, and eyeballs the third one.

This is only a “word picture” and not to be taken literally

Annual net profit after all expenses roughly $40K to $60K

  • The Professional

This Contractor has one to twenty employees, a formal documented business plan which is updated and reviewed regularly with a board of advisors as outlined on our web page Board of Advisors

They focus business resources on serving the segment of the construction market where they are most profitable. In addition, they understand what business they are in.....and I will give you a is not contracting.

They know the importance of doing what they do best and outsourcing the rest as outlined on our web page Outsourcing

Annual net profit after all expenses roughly $100K to $1,000,000+

In conclusion, if we ever have the pleasure of meeting at a Biznik event or any other occasion perhaps this short profile will offer some insight as why my passion for the construction industry and contractors is so strong.  Sharie and I love contractors and have made it our mission in life to help as many of them as possible achieve their definition of success be it Dog And Pickup Truck, Salt Of The Earth or The Professional. We love them all!

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About The Author:

Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA The Construction Accountant Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood Washington. He is the leading expert in outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services for small construction companies across the USA. He is experienced as a Contractor, Project Management Professional, Construction Accountant, Intuit ProAdvisor, QuickBooks For Contractors Expert and Xero Accounting Specialist and Bill.Com Certified Guru. This combination of experience and skill sets provides a unique perspective which allows him to see the world through the eyes of a contractor, Project Manager, Accountant and construction accountant. This quadruple understanding is what sets him apart from other Intuit ProAdvisors and Xero accountants to the benefit of all of the construction contractors he serves across the USA. Visit to learn more.

Our Co-Founder Randal DeHart - Is a Certified PMP (Project Management Professional) with several years of construction project management experience. His expertise is construction accounting systems engineering and process development. His exhaustive study of several leading experts including the work of Dr. W. Edward Deming, Michael Gerber, Walter A. Shewhart, James Lewis and dozens of others was the foundation upon which our Construction Bookkeeping System is based and continues to evolve and improve. Follow Randal on Google+