Contractor David West Rebuilds His Career -- We Gave Him a New Look
The recession has taken its toll on just about everyone in the United States, but it's hit Boston general contractor and cabinet maker David West harder than most. Over the past three years, his remodeling and construction business has dwindled, he's had to reduce his staff, his marriage fell apart, and his self-esteem took a nose dive.
"Business has dropped almost 75 percent from a few years ago when things were rocking," he says. "I had a staff of seven and large revenues. We have just cut costs and tried to stay lean while all this passes." Can you blame him for letting himself go a little?
It's not like David has been lounging around in his pajamas, napping on the couch and watching his beloved Celtics, while his remodeling company slowly fades away. Meadowview Construction specializes in residential renovations, with a focus on upscale kitchens, bath remodels and custom additions, but he's been willing to take on any construction/remodeling jobs over the past few years. It became common practice among homeowners, however, to either make do with what they already had or do it themselves.
Watch David Get His New Look
Doing unto others
Dave also kept busy with charity work. "Charity and community-related efforts have always been important to me," he says. "Over the past couple of years, I've made two trips to Biloxi, Miss., to work on Habitat For Humanity projects." He is also active in a local Kiwanis chapter, where he raises funds for local children's charities, student scholarships, children's medical research and more. His company supports children's athletic teams and the annual efforts of Rebuilding Together/Christmas in April, a non-profit organization that rehabilitates houses for low-income homeowners. The guys deserves a break!
We at AOL Jobs decided to give him one with a makeover that would help him appear ready, willing and able to get back in the game. Believe it or not, some industries and areas are making a slow but sure comeback right now, and David's is one of them. We took advantage of our attendance at the Diva Toolbox conference in his vicinity to meet with him and polish his look so that he would appear confident and capture the new business that's sprouting in the area. After all, David's business tag line is, "The Best Behaved Boys in Construction," and he needs to be the first, shining example of that.
David has already built the foundation for his career comeback. By staying active in the community and mastering the fine art of social networking, he's managed to stay on people's radar. "Some call me Mr. Facebook and Link (for LinkedIn)," he jokes. "Things are starting to perk up again. But my favorite architect, who sent us all our good jobs, died earlier this year and that has had a huge effect on our biz. I need to strengthen new architect relationships.
To catch a client
When he meets with these architects and potential clients, many of them well-to-do, he has to appear successful and competent. Not too polished, of course, because a contractor in a designer suit looks who looks like he never gets his hands dirty would be suspect. But the baggy jeans and faded T-shirts that had become his uniform of late just didn't convey the right message, nor did his unkempt hair and beard.
David was an exceptionally good sport during the makeover process, not only volunteering to shave the excess facial hair for a sharper, more sophisticated look, but he also allowed Andrea LaRosa of the Green Tangerine Spa & Salon in Burlington, Mass., to cut, style and color his hair. The dye allowed a few traces of sophisticated gray to show through, but added brightness and strength to his somewhat non-descript color.
Before we met David, we thought a wool blazer and sweater combination would suit him fine, but when we got to know him, we decided that would be a bit too academic and stuffy, and decided that he was more of a hip sweater type of guy. We found some insane bargains at Marshall's, where we picked up a Tommy Hilfiger heavy wool, charcoal zippered sweater for a mere 29.99, and a rich, red plaid Chaps button down for $12.99. When we paired it with black slacks, David looked ready to make an important business pitch, then throw on a coat and rush off to supervise construction at a building site.
The final results did not go unappreciated by the women at the Diva Toolbox conference, and we're hoping Boston's North Shore business community feels the same way. "It's too early to tell if it has affected my business, but I do hold my head a bit higher," he says. "I think the cleaned-up look has made people more comfy with me during the sales process as well." He told us that Stacy, his new girlfriend, is more than comfortable with it.
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David's makeover outfit was provided by the Diva Toolbox from Marshall's.
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Do you need a makeover to help you pursue your professional passion? Do you feel your style is holding you back, or perhaps keeping you from landing your dream job? Has it been quite some time since you've looked for work, and now, as you begin your search, you find that everything has changed and you need to change with it? AOL would love to hear your story. Tell us where you live and why you need a makeover, and you just may be one of the fortunate ones selected. We're looking for both men and women of all ages, colors, shapes, sizes and interests. Let us help you move ahead.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.