Working for Matthew.

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Matthew
My customer, Matthew.

This week I’m working for Matthew. He’s my client and he needs some home modifications, and that’s what I do.

Matthew perfectly fits the the old Hebrew meaning of Matthew, “Gift of the Lord”.

Matthew is a gift, he makes me want to understand what his needs are, he helps me to understand my role as a contractor.  Matthew is  my customer, and I look forward to making him happy. Matthew is also mentally retarded and autistic, wow, so he got his parents to communicate his needs to me.

My customer is complete, he is what nature delivered and I need to form my work practices with his needs in mind. I need to be more than a contractor.I need to be an observer and a listener and then a craftsman.

Where is that in all of my certifications?

Matthew is my customer and I need to understand how I can offer value and service, I must keep him safe from  my materials and tools, and I have to make a profit. How do you work with the Matthews?

He’s  a beautiful boy.

He deserves an honest job and he requires a more thoughtful approach to what I offer.

Sarah and David.

These are Matthews parents, a smart and educated couple, as nice a people as you could hope to meet. I am so glad I am working for this family, this is why I am a contractor. I have done high end remodels and been very satisfied to be trusted to deliver on some demanding expectations but working for Matthew and his parents is far more meaningful and fulfilling.

So what about Matthew?

He’s a 7 year old boy and very active, he’s curious and lives in a place that only he understands, its finite and I can’t go there. I also know I am working for a family, I  know my responsibility means being comfortable with the fact Matthew is important but not likely to tell me what he needs.

I can improve his home so he is safe, I can listen to his parents and try to make something useful for them,. This is what I do.

Remodeling is meeting the wants and needs of my customers,

Remodeling is meeting those needs even when those wants and needs are hard to define.

I’m not only a contractor, I’m a problem solving and sensitive guy, I am here for the client, love them or not I provide a service and that service is custom defined for each and every individual who contracts with me. Working for Matthew and his family defines my role, I can grow into this job or just pretend I know what they need.

Pretend is for pretenders, I am the real deal, bring it on.

Wants and needs, its what keeps us in business, the Matthews of the world give me purpose, they provide income and allow me to practice my trade. Without our customers we are just dilettantes.

Thank you Matthew for the work, thank you for being my customer.

By The Paul
Owner of Silvertree Construction
A MN Remodeling Company

Update to Matthew,

Part of what Silvertree did was to fabricate 2 Dutch doors, this keeps Matthew from the kitchen but allows quick and easy observations or escape.

Dutch door closed
Dutch door open.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the article Paul. I like the idea that Matthew is the customer. As a parent yourself, I’m sure a little one like Matthew can certainly tug at the heart strings and wanting to do your best for “him”. I am always extremely careful when working in a customers house when children may be present, but can only imagine the other precautions you may need to take to keep Matthew safe….That is job one.

    I am currently working on a project for a couple with a 24 year old son that was in an vehicle accident. The young man spent a month in the hospital ICU before being moved to a rehab center specializing in brain injuries. He has been there for 2 additional months and just said “mom” for the first time since the accident this past weekend. A simple word can reduce an entire room to tears. Funny you wrote this as I feel I am working for Robby, doesn’t matter who’s signing the paycheck

    • Hi Bryan,

      This is my first time reading this website..but I may be able to give you some insight to your client.

      I had a daughter with cerebral palsy, she lived at home for 18 years. Her cerebral palsy was described as spastic, quadraplegic and was non verbal. In other words she could do nothing for herself and required full time help. I was young and had to learn how to adapt my world to fit hers.

      She very recently passed away,she was 41, but I still have the knowledge of raising a physically disabled child.

      Please let me know if I can help!!..kim

  2. Great article Paul. It sounds like you made a good connection with the family.

    Working for Matthew is a great perspective on who you are really working for as a contractor and business owner. Remodeling is a business, but for the best results it needs an understanding of the family, not just the person writing the check.

    It’s amazing how kids seem to be able to bring out our best side. Something many of us seem to lose as adults.

  3. Thanks for the comments and working for Matthew is a job I enjoy and I hope he gets good use of the remodeling in his home.

  4. Great story Paul, look forward to hearing the outcome. Are you doing his “space”? Have you talked to his teachers or Autism Specialist for specific design ideas? Most would fall under the finishing and decorating, but there are colors, textures and other details that may appeal to Matthew that us “normal” folks would not be aware of.
    Keep up the great work!

  5. Good write-up Paul. You’re lucky to have crossed paths with this Matthew and his family.

    Little guys like Matthew bring their own brand of magic into the world. They remind us to count our blessings if we are lucky enough to have healthy and normal children and are ourselves able to function in the world without physical or mental challenges.

    Matthew is a living example of why most of us should never complain if we have a rough day. Imagine the days his parents have. How difficult it must be to try to make Matthew’s life as good as it can be for now, and strive to equip him with some skills and understanding that may afford him a meaningful and productive existence as an adult on whatever level is possible for him.

    I have a friend whose brother is autistic. My friend says sometimes he thinks his brother is normal and it’s the rest of us that have the mental challenge.

    Good job Paul.

  6. Thank you Paul for your kindness, your flexiability, your creativity, and your ability to “think outside of the box” for our family. The work you have done for Matthew has already helped improve all of our lives by helping keep Matthew safe in his own home.

    You have done a wonderful job making the modifications look beautiful as well as functional and practical.

    We feel very blessed that you have put so much time,effort, and thoughtfulness into improving our home for Matthew’s sake. These modifications will help him for years and years to come.

    From Matthew’s mom and dad.

  7. Thank you Paul for making our grandsons home safe and less stressful for his parents.As you observed he is in constant motion! WIth the changes you made I am sure there will be less
    Concern that he is not getting into a problem that would cause him harm.Thanks for seeing
    It more as a improvement in the family life than just a job.
    Grandma and Grandpa

  8. This is a Great Story about a boy and his parents who face constant challenges to keep their child safe each and every day, while striving to give Matthew the freedom to be who he is.

    Matthew’s contractor may call his jobs, well..jobs, but he “gets them done” for the family first through empathy for what this family’s experience is, and what they want it to be. His understanding provides purpose, and the vision inspires his creativity to go beyond pure safety and function.

    Thanks Paul. I really enjoyed the article.

  9. Paul,

    Really enjoyed this piece. You are a lucky man to have had this opportunity and wise to recognize it for the value it brings.

    Keep up the great work.

    Mike (eXapath)

  10. Good deal Paul!

    As you know, we do plenty of ADA and special needs work in Public buildings but rarely get the chance to see how much people appreciate it.

    It must be a great feeling to get to see how it improves on so many people’s lives when your done and being able to interact with those who need the help first hand.

    Little things, to us, can make big differences to others. It sounds like you’ve really helped a family live better and I’ll bet you have a buddy for life now. Great job!

  11. Great work Paul. The indeed picked a great contractor for this project.. Thanks to Matthew for keeping his contractor in check and for you for being a great employee to him.

    Kudos on the great job done by both of you..

  12. Paul,
    This is what success is made of: Listening and trying to understand the individual needs of every client. Thanks for setting the right example for an industry known for trying to force a “one size fits all” approach.
    May we all look back on our “Matthew clients” and take pride that we served them well…more pride than we got from our largest/most profitable projects.

    Cheers, Greg

  13. Nice article Paul.

    A good contractor can find out what a customer needs, without a conversation. You just have to listen in other ways.

    As in everyday life, look around and observe. There are things to learn from everyone.

  14. Paul, This is what success is made of: Listening and trying to understand the individual needs of every client. Thanks for setting the right example for an industry known for trying to force a “one size fits all” approach. May we all look back on our “Matthew clients” and take pride that we served them well…more pride than we got from our largest/most profitable projects. Cheers, Greg

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