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Success Comes In “Cans”, Not In “Cannots”

I was introduced to the truss designing world in 2004. I worked with a truss manufacturer in Atlanta as part of a restructuring process of their designing department. I began with another ten people, all professionals and from several branches (from computer systems, architectural, structural, mechanical and even oil and petrochemical). From that original team survived six of us in eighteen months. The project worked very well and other ten were hired and trained by us. We then reached the twenty designer plateau. Then things started to slow down in 2007. Like a tsunami we saw the sea slowly going back. I remember a week when we simply passed the time cleaning the computers. That week I said to myself: “Something really bad is going to happen” and started looking another job. I left the “ship” in the middle of 2008. In December that year the company closed up shop.

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I then gained employment, working in other areas such as power tools and water pumping. This was a very satisfactory experience, but for years a little noisy idea was buzzing in a part of my head: “Could I go back to the truss designing business?” Then I thought: “Why? Didn´t you learn anything? It´s an unstable field!” Later on, I realized it was just as unstable as any other, ask the automotive industry! The job´s nature was unique, introspective, analytical & detailed. Of course, you´ll find the rush of any other business but in the roller coaster route going from planning to construction of a building there is this line in the middle linking the blue prints with the real world. And something was telling me that´s the kind of job I needed! I never imagined it would six years later before that opportunity presented itself. In a world ruled by informatics those are ages.

I began to contemplate: “What if I could come back?” That´s a question not throwing you in with fake and irrational optimism, but also it doesn´t close the door. So moved by those winds of hope, I searched the internet until I found Gould Design Inc. Here was a component design company looking for design professionals that had an established partnership using the MiTek software and was working remotely for its clients. Really? It sounded too good to be true.

After an exchanging of emails with Christopher Gould and some initial interview screening and skill evaluations, we reached a point where I couldn´t move forward. Why not, you ask?  Because I didn´t have the hardware required to use MiTek! My computer simply would not meet the minimum requirements to run MiTek. I had been out of the business too long. So much had changed:

  • Hardware requirements
  • Software platform (I was familiar with eFrame, not Sapphire)
  • Building Codes
  • Lumber values
  • Framing tendencies
  • Etc. etc.

Mr. Gould was looking people who could begin work immediately. This was around April 2013. We discussed the possibilities and we settled in an agreement: I´ll get the computer and then we can start training. He sent me the required hardware information I would need. It was an investment around $2,500.00. At that time, I was also moving to my new apartment with my wife and it was a single moment of huge expenses. I thought: “I can´t do an investment like that right now.” I realized that the most difficult part was done, someone gave me an opportunity! That same day in the afternoon I got my first asset:

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He had sent me training material to begin learning anyway! I then constructed a plan to get the new stuff. My brother helped me with to identify the specific components by brand and type I needed and I bought it by parts, piece by piece. This took me around three months getting all the components, with a Kafka’s twist in the middle because some of the components were delayed by a sea of bureaucratic issues. An IT guy from my office put all together and around September I had this sweet machine roaring like a cat. Now, finally I can start training on the software! No, no you can´t, I needed to establish a business name because Gould Design Inc. needs entrepreneurs why? Because of the nature of working remotely, people with an inner engine is required because there are no eyes upon you following if you are at the desk. This was not difficult to overcome and now it came the time to start for real and we started with the first stage of training getting in touch with the company a refreshing the basics of wood plated trusses.

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The new stage of training came with the use of the software and the first step couldn´t be easier: Installing the software. What could go wrong if it´s just clicking “install”? Oh boy, there is not space enough to describe all that went wrong. The Sapphire was not running properly and the engineering crashed. After getting with MiTek´s tech support team, we figured it out: There is one version (ONE) of Windows that give this kind of problems, guess which one I had.

Once I reinstalled the OS and could get it running properly I started the practical training, piece of cake right? I had the skills, and a triangle is a triangle since the Egyptians. Just needed a “tune up” with the new software. Well it was a lot harder, because it was not only the software it was also learning the way to do the job. You see, every customer has a working criteria and protocol. The architectural plans have a very different way to approach the design itself, depending on the region.

In that time I received the complete support from GDI´s management, designers and other trainees more advanced than me. I realized that they had all been through the same process I had. Initially, I overestimated my capacities to perform due to being away from design for over 6 years. The GDI team never underestimated my will to complete the Professional Development program. Once I put my ego aside and let myself be guided, things were a little bit smoother.  The time outside the CAD environment really affected my proficiency and easy jobs were taking me a lot more that it should. To improve on that level, we implemented a plan using the MiTek University as a support tool to gain speed and efficiency. What a tremendous difference this made. I felt my confidence growing with every single click.

You see, the Professional Development system at GDI is a program structured to face issues you´ll need to resolve on a daily basis. The most important was learning how to use the set of design criteria unique to the client. Some of the content can hit your common sense button, some does not. The client has its way to handle the flow of work, so you have to get into their mindset. And that´s part of the idea of the PD, to learn to develop empathy with the client and its reality so they can fulfill the requirements of the builder.

The support of GDI – who has done everything possible to give me the tools to success – plus my own drive, is the mix that has taken me to a first live work stage. Every new stage has its own challenges and this experience has made evolve from the reactive “no man, now what?” to a proactive “bring it on!” There is no setback if you learn from it. Every bump in the road makes you a better driver.

In some paths we´ve been in, it’s easy to say: “That´s it, it´s enough, I can’t do it.” Before throwing in the towel, hear that little voice telling you: “What you´ll do if you can?” My success came from believing in myself, thinking that I “can” succeed.

In what ways have you overcome your “cannots” and succeeded?

Javier Dominguez – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.