Working with Professionals


The Failure

The glaze was a mixture of chemicals which when heated to a specific temperature for a specific time would vitrify. That is a fancy word for melting and forming glass. The mix needed modifiers in it so the glass would stick to the clay brick it was applied to and not run off. Since there was a high surface tension in the vitrified glaze, it tended to ball up on the surface of the brick if it was not applied thick enough.

The glaze was slurried with water and sprayed onto the brick. Herb started by hiring a professional spray painter to apply the glaze. The professional had years of training in applying a thin coat of paint, about 4 mils in thickness, which just covered the surface being painted. Herb needed a coat which was thirty times that thick. Herb was unable to train him to spray the glaze thick enough so when it started to vitrify, it did not ball up and leave portions of the brick exposed. Another failure. He ended up hiring people off the street who did not know how to use a spray gun and teaching them to apply an even 120-mil-thick coating of the glaze.

The Lesson

Herb learned that a person can be so highly trained that he cannot learn a new skill which is contradictory to what he had been taught.

The Success

When needing cement chemists to work in his laboratory, Herb interviewed a number of people with doctorate degrees. One of his requirements was that they apprentice to a plastering contractor or a masonry contractor for 6 weeks to learn the “feel” of the product they would be working with. They would be on full salary during the apprentice program. All those with PhDs refused to apprentice because they “knew” what was needed and felt that Herb with his Junior High diploma was trying to humiliate them.

It never occurred to Herb to mention to them that he had some education beyond the Junior High School diploma displayed on the wall of his office, and that he had to learn to plaster and lay brick before he became assistant to the head of research &development at Pozzolana, Inc., and Rio Clay Products.


Author: Herb

In January, 2010, I left corporate America, and now I have my own business. Since I have never been able to focus on one item (Does that make me a scatter brain?), I divided my company into three divisions: Kayak guiding and instructing - specializing in nature kayaking, Building materials consultant - specializing in cements and forensics, and Writing - Stories w/ life lessons and construction books that are fun to read. Published books: The Stucco Book - The Basics, Animals I Have Hated, Grandpa, Help! Answers to Questions a Young Lady Would Never Ask Her Parents, Grandpa Helps Grandparents, Living with Cancer – That Intense Houseguest, Homes for Jubilee (June, 2016), and Kay pou Jubilee (in Haitian Creole) (August, 2016). Forthcoming Books: The Adhered Concrete Masonry Veneer Book, The Stucco Book - Forensics and Repairs, and Failing My Way to Success.

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