Crew Foreman of the Month: Henry Walters, Conestoga Buildings

-By Kathy Jonas-

After talking with Henry Walters for just a few minutes, you understand why he has such good rapport with his crew members. He’s funny, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And at only 32 years old, he knows how to get the job done and get it done right.

When asked which weather conditions are the worst to work in, he responds quickly. “Summer. I don’t think the customers would appreciate it if you ran around without clothes. You can’t get away from the heat. In the winter, you can always add more clothes,” he explains.

An employee of Conestoga Buildings in its New York region, Walters recently received recognition as the NFBA Crew Foreman of the Month. Though he may be humble and self-effacing and doesn’t like talking about himself, others are quick to compliment him.

“As lead foreman, Henry has constructed a team that has become a strong and reliable building crew. He has a great reputation in the New York area and has set our company apart from our competitors as skilled and reliable,” says Heather Angstadt, senior construction administrator for Conestoga Buildings, headquartered in New Holland, Pennsylvania. “We gain more sales every day because of the reputation of our beautiful quality-constructed buildings. We owe that to Henry.”

She goes on to describe him as someone who is extremely knowledgeable about the construction of post-frame buildings and a person who teaches his crew by example. She says he is a hard worker, is efficient and shows a lot of respect for those around him, and in turn, he is respected by those who work for him and with him.

“He did an outstanding job teaching these traits to his team, and now he has created an amazing workforce. As someone in the office who needs to work with Henry from many miles away, I always feel comfortable that Henry can handle any issue. I have complete faith in him,” she adds.

Patience and a good attitude are other qualities of his that Angstadt mentions. She says the fact that he always seems to be in a good mood motivates crew and staff members alike. His nomination form listed other traits—reliability, trustworthiness, excellent communication skills and an ability to get projects completed under budget and on schedule.

“The customers are always happy with the results,” says Angstadt.

Walters probably wouldn’t be comfortable with all this praise, but he acknowledges that he works hard to keep his customers and his crew happy as much of the time as possible. He says he keep his crew happy by teaching them the tricks of the trade he has learned over the years he has worked in post-frame construction.

For example, someone taught him the best way to lay out steel to make the job as easy as possible, and he has passed that knowledge on to others. As for the customers, Walters says he hasn’t gotten many complaints about projects, partly because he attempts to take care of problems as the project is progressing and does not wait until the end to address any issues. This method is time consuming, but it works, even though it means he has worked 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on occasion.

“I enjoy building post-frame barns because it gets me outdoors, and I enjoy the camaraderie,” he says. He’s been a crew foreman for seven years, working at Conestoga Buildings and other companies in the area.

Born on a dairy farm, Walters grew up doing early-morning chores before school and appreciates the work ethic instilled in him while he was just a boy. He has tried to instill those same values in his own three sons. “It’s all old-school stuff,” he says with a laugh. “It’s hard to get in trouble when you’re working all the time.” He mentions the difficulty of finding young crew members who are willing to do the work necessary to survive in the demanding construction industry and agrees that those raised on a farm make excellent workers.

Though his free time is at a premium, he enjoys hunting and trapping with his sons and is a firm believer in finding balance and keeping family first.

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