Jim Gillingham - Owner, Total Construction Management

Jim Gillingham is the owner of Total Construction Management, a general contracting company.  He got started in the business about 50 years ago and is now working with smaller companies.  He started working with First Nations in Manitoba about two years ago and began by finishing up a new recreation center over an existing skating rink.  He has a project coming up with several of the northern tribes in the area and will be helping them construct box buildings for a food depot.  They really need the help and guidance, so he enjoys working with them.

Mr. Gillingham is semi-retired as of last year, and does not take on as many contracts as before.  These days he chooses to work on projects that he enjoys.  He and his wife enjoy traveling and spending time with his family.  They have twin great-grandchildren who are the joys of his life!

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

It started out 50 years ago as a dare with friends.  One was a contractor and the other one owned a real estate company.  They dared me to frame out a split level house in Ontario, which I did and it is still standing today.

How do you make money?

I make money by getting involved in jobs that really matter like First Nations projects and projects for lower income people.  Since I am semi-retired, I do jobs a few hours a month to keep busy.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

I started in the industry around 1974.  It was about my third year to make a profit when I took on a contract to build a 297 townhouse complex in Ontario geared toward low income people as well as a senior housing complex.  I learned that you win some and you lose some.  

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Yes, many times.  In this Industry there are different prices for different projects and I didn’t always get paid for the jobs that I did.

How did you get your first customer?

As I stated earlier, on a dare from friends, framing out a split level home. It just went from there.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

About six years ago, we registered with a company called Trusted Pros. We have a great relationship with them and we earned a 3.9 rating which has generated many references.  

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I made recently was dealing with negative feedback online.  We had a customer who did not want to pay us for the work we performed.  We even won our case in court.  They went online and wrote negative comments and damaged my business and reputation.  We are still trying to recover from that.  This has been a very expensive experience.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I don’t give up even if there is a problem.  I try to solve the problem, move forward and still making a living.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

The most satisfying moment was renovating a house to make it handicap accessible for a friend that had polio.  It made me happy to see that they finally had a home that worked for them so they didn’t have to worry about anything.  

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I do not need the business per se because I’m partly retired, but I hope to give my family something to inherit.  My hope is that the business stays in the family.  

What business books have inspired you?

The Art of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peele, he was so positive in everything he did.  I also enjoyed books by Dale Carnegie and have taken his course which helps boost memory.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I purchased a new computer.  My other one was getting kind of old so I needed to update.  

You can learn more about Jim by visiting http://jim-gillingham.com/

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