When All Else Fails Be a Thinker, Mentor or Example…

A few months back, Anthony LoCoco, a contractor with whom I am connected, asked me if I would look over his company newsletter.  He was curious what I thought.  “Sure,” I said, all the while thinking, “Geez, no one sends newsletters via snail mail anymore….” And I braced myself for what would surely be another tired, uninspired newsletter, chock full of details from the last company picnic and other tidbits that most homeowners couldn’t care less about.

Instead, what arrived in my mailbox was a simple newsletter with a charming, well-written narrative about a contractor who likes to take his son to work with him.  It was anything but uninspiring.  In fact, it inspired me to invite Anthony to write the following guest blog, a perfect fit for the upcoming Father’s Day weekend.

Enjoy!  And Happy Father’s Day to all the hard working dads out there!

Trish Holder, Publisher

Greenspiration Home LLC

By Anthony A. LoCoco

Anthony LoCoco's son, Jake, helps him install a new floor

We’re failing our kids.

The younger generation is not getting the collective guidance they need from us when it comes to hands-on instruction in the care and maintenance of the home.  Over the past 25 years or so we’ve distanced ourselves from basic knowledge and skills that were once routinely passed from mentor to student, father to son.  Today we call on service people for the most minor of tasks, from clogged drains to changing the oil in our car.

What is the solution for all this…. helplessness? I’m no expert on sociological change and I know I can’t single-handedly change the generational tide.  But I do have influence over what I consider my one lasting legacy in life: my son Jake.

On-the-Job Character Building

I’ve always talked to my son like a young man, not a baby.  Of course, he gets to be a kid a lot of the time, but when he accompanies me on jobs, I’ve tried to make sure he learns what it means to listen to a client’s needs and communicate an effective solution. He has watched me sell jobs and then set the logistics and resources into motion from concept to completion. We have defined expectation levels and insured that our clients are pleased with every stage of the process. He has watched as we discover that the “last guy’s” work was sub-par (to put it mildly) and that if everyone cared about their clients, their reputation, and had integrity, we would not have to rectify these situations.

On these job outings, I have always emphasized 3 things to Jake:  (1) Attention to detail (2) Time urgency and (3) Having both heart and integrity.  Because of this, at the ripe old age of eight, he has developed a skill set that will help him excel at nearly ANY vocation as an adult.  He understands what it means to have character, and that it should never be compromised.

Understanding When the Job Is Done

Jake started working with me when he was a toddler, holding tools while I did small tasks around the house.  Then he started helping me do tune-ups, brake jobs and oil changes on our vehicles.  At five he started tagging along on short service calls and held my cell phone and clipboard. At six he assisted me in disassembling a client’s furnace for a complete maintenance cleaning and component check.   This past Thanksgiving break, he wanted to work the entire week installing a new bamboo floor system in a client’s kitchen.  We worked 8-12 hour days, side-by-side.  All the while, Jake eagerly honed his tape measure skills, filled face nails, and even got some “trigger” time with the pneumatic cleat nailer.

Jake knows a client’s job isn’t done until the work area is clean and all the equipment is rolled up and loaded in the truck.  I knew he had the makings of a true professional when he was about four and a half and we were reframing a wall in my master bedroom.  It was 10PM and he was waiting for me to finish so he could run the shop vac and clean up the work area. He was obviously getting tired and I asked him if we wanted to go to bed and he looked up at me with half-mast eyes and said, “Dad, I started this job with you and I’m going to finish it.”

I’ve been a construction guy nearly my whole life and am considered pretty hard-boiled, but I admit that made me a bit misty-eyed.  I’ve worked with adults that did not have that much heart. At that point I knew I would spend as much time as possible teaching my son everything I know so that at some point he could teach me a few things.

Anthony A. LoCoco, proud dad, is General Manager Traditions Home Improvement Service, LLC. in

Elgin, IL.


6 Responses »

  1. Just wanted to thank Anthony again for this heartwarming post — that I know will make all of us think as parents, children, and homeowners. Those generational ties and responsibilities are so important.

    FYI, the toughest thing about posting this blog was deciding which picture of Jake to use with it. Too cute! And wherever did you find such small goggles???? ;o)

    Trish Holder, Publisher
    Greenspiration Home

  2. Trish, How can I get a hard copy of this article? I wholeheartedly agree with Anthony and applaud his leadership in the area that matters most to him. If only all parents would take an active role in modeling these character traits to their children, we would be the powerhouse nation we once were. Please send me a hard copy, if possible. I would like to share it with the contractors that come into the lumberyard where I work. Many do not ever get on the computer as they work from sun up to sun down. Thanks for sharing Anthony’s story.

  3. The whole family just got back from a week long trip to the east coast [Newport, RI and surrounding]. Monday it is back to work and Jake will be a busy boy this week! I guess the only downside if you want to call it that is that there is a learning curve for him as he learns new tasks. And that means jobs he in on with me sometimes take a bit longer. He will listen carefully when instructions are given and believe it or not I get slowed down to a far lesser degree than other young guys two or three times his age.

    The goggles were purchased from Amazon “youth size” and since they are hard to find otherwise I buy them a few at a time.

    Trish, thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to share this with you and your readers.

  4. Great article. Thank you for reminding us of the need to mentor the next generation.

  5. I agree totally.
    I had my son climbing trees aged 7 in a rope and harness. He is now 17 and serving an apprentiship with a large contractor.He will get a broader experience with them rather than working with me. He had the opportunity to pursue an electrical career but trees are in his blood. he is the most outstanding apprentice in his class.

    Proud does not even come close!!

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