Before coming to Nunn three and a half years ago, Tiny, known at the time simply as Justin Harrod, had been moving furniture for a company that contracts with the military. While not in the military himself, his wife, who he met through his church choir, was. He was growing tired of moving furniture, and was looking for something else. “I had always enjoyed working with my hands, but moving furniture was starting to get to me. My wife suggested I look into the carpenter apprenticeship program through the Home Builders Institute [HBI].”
Once he finished the HBI program and received his OSHA 10, he met Phil LaSarre who was attending an HBI event. “I met Phil, and after chatting for a bit, he asked if I wanted to come work for Nunn.”
Laughing, Tiny recalls that he had no idea what or who Nunn was. But in need of a job, he agreed.
“Nunn gave me an incredible opportunity. I never have worked for a company where I can just walk into the main office and say hi to the President or Owner, and where they both know me. I can just say ‘Hi Tyson and Ray, how are ya doing?’ That sort of closeness is something I had never experienced before.”
When you focus on small details, it helps ensure that larger things go smoothly later
It’s this sort of environment that led Tiny to describe Nunn as being “by far the best company I have ever worked for.”
The HBI program is an eight-week program that teaches all the basics of carpentry such as framing and how to cut straight. Tiny recalls that before he started the program, he wasn’t even sure how to read a tape measurer.
“Learning to use a speed square was a huge help, and I use that every single day. It not only helps ensure that you cut in a straight line, but it helps keep you safe so you don’t lose a hand—which is pretty important! But the lesson I think about every day is that when you focus on small details, it helps ensure that larger things go smoothly later. So I always try and do a good job with even the smallest things, as I know it will help with the project later down the road.”
As a foreman and former apprentice, Tiny doesn’t just seek out other apprentices to help mentor—he sets his sights much broader, helping anyone he can, and always offering advice to others who want it. “Someone took the time to help me, and I want to make sure I am taking the time to help others as well.”
When discussing the potential of a career in construction for someone who is considering it, Tiny’s positivity shines through. “While there are going to be some rough days, I never say there are bad days. There are either good days, or days for learning. And even those learning days are good, because it just means you have more knowledge going forward, and have opened more doors for yourself in the future.”
Tiny doesn’t just take that wisdom as an abstract idea—he applied it directly to his life. “My first year of college I had a 0.7 GPA. I’m not dumb, but I was in school for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t the path for me, but I learned from that, and found the path that was right.“
“Construction isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those who it is, there are a lot of opportunities, especially at a place like Nunn. I always remember the advice of one of my mentors: that the first time you do something is always going to be the hardest. So keep at it, as it will only get easier every time you try. I would tell anyone who is interested—absolutely go for a career in construction. It may be difficult at first, but you are going to get better every single day.”
Lessons that apply to his life also stemmed from his work in construction. “Construction and life have a lot of in common. If you invest in a strong foundation, you can build something great on top of it that you will be proud of and that will last a long time. That is what I am trying to do, and is an opportunity that Nunn has given me. I don’t want to waste it, so I am trying to make my foundation be as strong as possible—and I am lucky to have so many teachers and mentors who have helped me along the way.”
Despite his success as a carpenter foreman, Tiny is excited about the future, and has his eyes on becoming a Superintendent and then eventually Senior Superintendent. Laughing, he jokes “I always tell Jason to keep my truck clean! I see the value and the leadership that Jason and other Superintendents bring, and I want to be able to contribute in the same way. I want to be able to help guide my team, mentor others, and build things that matter.”
Rock on, Tiny!