Bo Calbert, Southwest President McCarthy Building Companies, discusses his first job as a caddy and the things that helped him get to where he is today in the construction industry.
Title: Southwest President
Company: McCarthy Building Companies
What was your first job?
When I came home from the last day of sixth grade, my father said, “Son, it’s about time you got a job.” We lived right across the street from Hickory Hills Country Club in Springfield, Mo., which is where (deceased PGA star) Payne Stewart learned to golf and where his father was a big golfer. So I walked across the street and got a job as a caddy. It was tough. I’d get there at seven in the morning, had to sweep all the sidewalks to earn the privilege to caddy, and at the end of the day I had to pick up all the balls on the driving range.
What did you learn from that first job?
Working as a caddy at a country club was all about service and dependability, and developing relationships were important. If you didn’t build good relationships with people, they wouldn’t request you to be their caddy.
Describe your first job in your industry.
It was building a high-rise office building in Houston, and I was low man on the totem pole. I was the field engineer, doing all the layout. It was a concrete frame, and I was holding the dumb end of the tape. I got a battlefield promotion because the lead engineer hurt his back. I’d been out of school six weeks when I got that promotion.
What lesson did you learn in your first industry job that still helps you today?
If you’re willing to take responsibility and you’re not afraid to ask for the tough jobs, you will get a lot of recognition early.
What were your salaries in your first job and in your first industry job?
I got $1.60 an hour to shag balls and $3.50 to caddy for 18 holes. My first salary was $22,000 a year in the construction industry.
Who would you consider as your biggest mentor?
Chuck Thompson was the chairman of 3D International, a large engineering construction firm. He’s the one who got me my first interview with McCarthy, and he is the smartest, most talented individual I know. If you had to credit someone with the development of construction management as a process, Chuck would probably get the credit. He’s got a tremendous amount of integrity. In our business, people put a lot of trust in you when they hire you to build their project. You have to have the integrity to make all the right decisions.
What advice would you give to someone starting today in your industry?
What worked for me is that I volunteered for tough assignments that other people might not want to do. Taking on challenges and getting the reputation as someone who is not afraid to take on those challenges is a key thing that people should do early in their career.