40+ Years’ Experience!!!

Contractors bragging about the years of experience they have; I have nothing empirical on the matter, but I think this might be the most banal, braggadocios, bulls**t in all of construction. After being burned on a few jobs by specialty contractors who claim 30, 35, 40+ years’ experience, it got me thinking.

I have 40+ years’ experience:

  • Writing, but I’m not a copywrite or noted author;
  • Drawing/sketching/coloring, but I’m not an artist;
  • Running and jumping, but I’m not a track & field Olympian;
  • Speaking, but I’m not a renowned orator;
  • Excelling in mathematics, but I’m not a mathematician.

I have 30 years’ experience:

  • Driving, yet somehow I never made it to the NHRA pro circuit;
  • Hunting, stalking and using a rifle, but I’m no Carlos Hathcock;
  • Cooking, but I’ve no Michelin Star restaurant.


See where I’m going with that? Think of anything you’ve been doing your entire life, even longer than whatever it is someone pays you money to do, and rhetorically ask yourself why you aren’t a renowned professional in that related task?

Just because someone has any amount of time doing anything, doesn’t correlate to them performing it expertly, if they ever even learned to do it right in the first place. Anyone with a license at least has a governing organization that they can be reported to, but “handymen” and many specialty trades aren’t governed by any authority or agency. More often than not these are the people fighting for your business, waving their decades of experience around waiting for you to bite.

And how the hell would you even verify it?? Short of hiring someone to do a deep-dive on a person’s history, I’m not really doing much more than the usual process I’ve talked about in the past. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and they know it.

Tile contractors have more bling to flash in their advertising than most trades:

  • Ceramic Tile Education Foundation Certified Tile Installer
  • Tile Council of North America (and whatever test they passed)
  • National Tile Contractor Association membership
  • And many, many more.

And yet it seems like the more certificates and certifications and tests passed, and years’ experience a tile subcontractor has, the worse they performed and more problems with them I’ve had.

Conversely, the best tile contractor with whom I’ve ever worked has half the experience and none of the certifications. Too bad he’s so in-demand for me to hog all his time!

I don’t mean to pick only on tile installers. If an electrician you hired bragged about over 20 years’ experience, and “doing it right the first time” (another dumb, meaningless thing to state, but that’s another rant), would you expect that said electrician would correctly wire your bathroom GFCI circuits? If you were one of my recurring clients, you would be wrong. I discovered this while relocating the outlet to the spot they wanted it. 20+ years’ experience, huh? Good job.

The only thing worse is companies who mention the combined years of experience their team has. 25 years’ experience? Over how many employees, 22? Knock it off.

In summary, learn to look past these trite, meaningless, unconfirmable, sales-pitch claims. If that’s what they’re putting in bold typeface on their advertisements, then they probably don’t have the chops to compete with the next generation of pros. In the meantime, I, and those like me, will continue to let our work speak for itself.