“Inside Live Oak” offers a look behind the scenes at the professionals who are integral to our success, as well as the success of our client’s projects. This week, we sat down with Walker Palmer.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the construction industry.
I grew up in Kingsley Lake and always worked in construction as a kid with my grandfather remodeling houses of family members. I went to high school at St. Johns Country Day School and received a baseball scholarship to Stetson University. When I got there, I realized I wasn’t nearly as good at baseball as I thought and I had always enjoyed construction so I transferred to UF and got a degree in Construction Management. I have been in commercial and multi-family construction ever since.
What’s your background and your experience?
I started out as a concrete helper forming all sorts of cast-in-place concrete. I moved from that labor position into a finish carpenter role which I did for several years while finishing up school. I worked trimming large custom homes and then transferred into commercial construction full-time as soon as I graduated.
How did you get your start in the multifamily industry?
I was working with a family-owned, large contractor that didn’t have any opportunities to advance my career past project management, so I thought I’d try something new. I had an opportunity to continue my career in upper management with a multi-family firm in Jacksonville, so I made the switch. It was challenging at first because it is a completely different pace. The schedules are tighter, and momentum is very important in multi-family construction. It was a big change from healthcare and institutional type facilities to multifamily building. It was fun. It was something new and different and exciting, and I was successful. I got promoted quickly and moved my way up through the ranks, and now I’m the Director of Construction at Live Oak.
What industry challenges are you experiencing, if any?
Our biggest challenge in the construction industry overall is staffing. Growing at the right rate for any construction company is crucial to longevity. Right now, most everybody is busy. If you’re not busy, you’re not doing something right.
How do you overcome those challenges?
Time management is really important. Being able to multitask and change gears from A to B to X, Y and Z in a short time frame while remaining productive through it all is very important.
What would you say prepared you the most for your role at Live Oak?
The one characteristic or trait that makes me successful in this environment is my belief that there is no room for failure. “Failure is not an option,” is something that I live by. You’ve got to get it done. You’ve got to get it done on time. You’ve got to get it done within budget. I’ve been extremely good at doing that in my career, and that’s why I’m here.
How would you describe the culture of Live Oak?
I think the one thing that rings home is the entrepreneurial spirit and the dedication to the company that everyone has. The other thing that I love is the different layers available for improvement within the company. The opportunities afforded to current employees and future employees are second to none. On top of that, we’re blessed with an owner that’s extremely personable. He’s honest, forthright, and level-headed. He’s somebody that you don’t have a problem understanding and doing what he asks because he is a very intelligent man, and he knows what the issues are and how to come up with a solution that’s agreeable to everybody. Paul has been an inspiration for me and I look forward to him rubbing off on me.
How would your past and current co-workers describe you?
Blunt and a little bit sarcastic, but at the end of the day they know I’m there to help them out and I’ll never ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.
What’s one thing that you would tell someone who wants to get into the construction industry?
To be driven. If you can’t self-motivate, you’ll have a lot of challenges within this industry. If you’re a driven individual that thrives on making decisions, weighing the options, and coming up with solutions, and are able to do multiple things at once then construction is for you. Within construction, multi-family is an even faster pace. I challenge anyone looking for a challenge to get into construction because it keeps you on your toes. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s demanding but also rewarding. Anyone willing to challenge themselves will succeed and the benefits of this job are incredible.