– By Greg Blosser, NFBA Communications Manager –
Nan Spadacene of Midland, Michigan, calls foreman Roy Palmer II a “superstar.” Spadacene, a retired business development manager who worked at Dow Chemical for 30 years, knows a bit about supervising people and considers herself a good just of character.
Palmer, of Wick Buildings, was the foreman of the crew that constructed the exterior of her horse barn, riding arena and attached hay barn last winter. Among other things, the barn is used by the program Tall in the Saddle, which provides riding lessons to children with special needs.
“It was my good fortune to have Roy and his crew as my builders. They could not have been more dedicated, especially considering the weather they had to contend with,” Spadacene adds.
Weather can be a factor in many post-frame projects, but this particular winter was extremely frigid, even by central Michigan standards. And because the project didn’t get going until February, the construction took place during the coldest months. The exterior was completed on April 1.
“The weather was horrendous. One morning it was 24 degrees below zero, not including wind chill,” says Spadacene. “I looked at my clock at 6:45 a.m., and there they [Roy and his crew] were. I was stupefied. They found after they got there that the diesel equipment did not work. That was the only day they did not work.”
Nominated by Mark Werbeckes, construction manager at Wick Buildings, Palmer leads one of the top crews working in the state of Michigan and has won awards as a foreman in the area of safety, on a Building of the Year project, and as a member of Wick Buildings’ 2014 Crew of the Year.
“All the customers want him to build their next project,” Werbeckes says of Palmer. “When we do surveys, all of them come back without one negative comment [about Palmer].”
Called an educator, a leader and a superior manager, Palmer has been with the company for 11 years, 10 of them as a foreman. In Michigan, Wick builds post-frame freestanding barns, cattle barns, small commercial buildings and homes, according to Werbeckes.
Roy Palmer is soft spoken, modest and not particularly comfortable talking about himself. But when pressed about his leadership qualities, he said he tries to lead by example. “If I want something done and done efficiently, my crew has to be as good if not better than I am,” he says. “I’m fine with them being better,” he said, adding that two former crew members are now foremen.
Admittedly, Spadacene’s horse barn project had to be built in very difficult conditions, he says. “You just have to get out there and get at it. It was very challenging. Everything was frozen.” He will not force anyone to work in extreme cold, but he hopes the crew recognizes that he will be working right beside them if they do.
Palmer stresses safety. Keeping up with safety training, being vigilant about wearing protective gear and making sure harnesses are fitted properly are all necessary when working on a job site. “I don’t come down on crew members, but I explain the importance of these safety measures,” he says. He takes pride in his crew’s safety record and wants to do everything possible to make sure that the record is maintained. “I set my standards higher than most and find there’s always room for improvement.” He is a firm believer in a strong work ethic, quality craftsmanship and the importance of return customers and referrals.
The job can be stressful at times, and Palmer enjoys nothing more than building a bonfire and spending time with his wife, Katherine, and four children, Roy III, 20; Athena, 18; Brookelyn, 16, and Kaitlyn, 11. The oldest two are now training to be Marines. He enjoys camping in the Martiny Chain of Lakes in Michigan, particularly Tubbs Lake and Coldwater Lake.
But those quiet times camping are not very frequent for this foreman who loves construction, being outside in the fresh air and building things from the ground up.
“I think the world of him,” says Spadacene of Palmer, who helped make her horse barn and arena a reality. “I feel he really cared about us.”