GVG Builders LLC Qualification Statement
I’ve always viewed qualification statements from the fact that it is people doing business with other people. Corporate entities don’t do anything. Most contractor qualification statements are very generic and benign and focus on the corporate entity rather than the license holder’s background. I believe that approach is meaningless, deceptive and does not serve the purpose for which it is intended. Corporations do not keep their word…people do. Corporations do not have experience…people do. Corporations do not make decisions…people do. I use the same approach when qualifying subcontractors. I do not examine the corporate entity nor do I ask for references. I request them to submit what I’m submitting to you and spend some time with them to get to know them. Therefore I submit the following qualification data and background on the license holder for GVG Builders, LLC…Wesley A. Driggers for your consideration.
Corporations do not keep their word…people do. Corporations do not have experience…people do. Corporations do not make decisions…people do. I use the same approach when qualifying subcontractors.
I'm Wesley A. Driggers and this is My Story
I grew up in Temple Terrace, Fl. We lived on the Hillsborough River. My dad had built our house there in 1954. I was a boy scout, baseball player (pitcher) and loved the woods. By the time I was eight I had my own 8’ paddle boat my father built for me and I could go up and down the river as far as I wanted to paddle. At twelve I had my own aluminum Jon boat and 6hp motor and that opened up a whole new world and I explored the river from one end to the other. I loved the woods and I started camping out along the river as often as possible. I loved fishing and made friends with other kids that lived on the river.
My career in the building business began when I was 14 years old. My father was a general contractor and I went to work for him in the summers beginning in 1967 as a laborer and carpenter’s helper. My older brother, Richard, who was 12 years older than me was already a carpenter and was the jobsite superintendent on a new church building in Arcadia. My brother was pretty rough on me as I recall and every day he taught me everything he could and I learned fast. By the end of that first summer I already knew all about how to tie rebar and how to form columns, pilasters and tie beams as well as the process of stripping forms and rubbing the concrete smooth to give it a sand finish. It was very hard work and brutally hot. I distinctly remember how I couldn’t wait for school to start back.
The following summer, the desire to make more money drove me back to work and we were framing a huge house so I had the opportunity to learn all about framing and soffit and fascia work that summer. It was still very hard work in that brutal summer heat but I really loved working with wood. I also learned a lot about safety since it was a 2-story house with a very steep roof.
When I started the 10th grade at King High School they were on double sessions which gave me the opportunity to work 4 hours a day during the school year and full time in the summers. My dad enrolled me in a carpentry apprenticeship program (ABC) and I attended those classes two nights a week. Since I was working and making money I was able to buy a car and pay for it myself. My brother insisted that I buy at least one new tool per week. I finished the apprenticeship classes in 3 years (one year early) and when I left high school I was a journeyman carpenter earning top wages that men much older than me with families made.
During my teenage years I learned to play tennis and was hooked. I played every day after work and on weekends and eventually was playing in local tournaments. I continued playing as much as possible well up into my 40’s.
My career in the building business began when I was 14 years old. My father was a general contractor and I went to work for him in the summers beginning in 1967 as a laborer and carpenter’s helper.
My training in carpentry continued to where I was what my dad called a Master Carpenter like he was. But I was also being trained as a superintendent and learning how to run a job. That was a challenge because subs or employees had a hard time accepting me due to my age. In time I earned their respect and I learned to respect them as well. This type of training proved to be very unique and valuable in later years. It’s the kind of training that very, very few ever experience.
I was married at 18 and at 20 had my first son and built my first home. My friends that I went to school with were either struggling in some occupation, or was struggling to get by at college or got drafted into the army. Though I had been raised in the church and went to church every Sunday as a child I had stopped going and was in what I would call a state of religious rebellion. We were building a large church addition for a Christian and Missionary Alliance church and the pastor lived in a parsonage there on the property. He came over every day and would chat with us and he finally got me to attend their church service. A few weeks later I confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I requested to be baptized in the Hillsborough River. My life changed and faith began to grow. I became a boys Sunday School teacher and became the minister of music. Several years later I left that church because a new pastor came and did very bad things. Several of us tried to get a new church started but it didn’t work out.
I continued my training at work and was a full time project superintendent/project manager. My dad retired when I was 25 and my brother took over his business. I was vice president and project manager and helping with estimates and general business management. My brother and I struggled to get along without my dad there to intervene. I decided I was going to leave the family business and get my own license. It was also at this time that my wife left. We were divorced and I was able to get custody of our two children (Aaron and Marianne). She didn’t contest me getting custody. She knew in her heart they were much better off with me.
My training in carpentry continued to where I was what my dad called a Master Carpenter like he was. But I was also being trained as a superintendent and learning how to run a job. This type of training proved to be very unique and valuable in later years. It’s the kind of training that very, very few ever experience.
General Contractor License
I applied for my GC license and was approved and took the exam at Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa. I didn’t really study or do any preparation for the exam. I had purchased all the books and spent a little time looking through them. At that time less than 3% of those that took the test passed it. I kind of assumed I would take it once just to see how tough it was and so I would know what I needed to study and take it again later. There were over 600 men in the room that day taking the exam. The exam was broken up into 3 parts. The first part had a 4 ½ hour time limit that first morning and the afternoon part was also 4 ½ hour limit. The 2nd day had one part that had a 5 hour limit. The morning of the first day I had finished the first part of the exam in 1hr and 45 min. I raised my hand and a Procter came over thinking I had a question but when I told him I was finished he looked at me like I was crazy and suggested I look it over again. I said no I’m done. So I turned it in. I asked if I could go ahead and take the afternoon part but I had to wait till 1 pm so I went home and came back. I finished the afternoon part in 1 ½ hrs and left. Day two I took 2 ½ hours. I was the first one in the room to finish each of the three exams. Back then you didn’t get your score immediately like they do now. I had to wait for it to come in the mail. Two weeks later I received my score and my license. I had passed the first part with a 95, second part with a 97 and the third part with a 90. You had to have at least a 70 on each part to pass. So in 1980 at age 27 I was a state certified general contractor.
I put an ad in the Tribune classified section. They had a portion of the classified section dedicated for services. I went to Hillsborough county building department and registered my license so I could pull permits. The lady that processed my application said she had been doing that job since before they started doing state certifications and that I was the youngest she had ever seen. She asked me how in the world did I qualify for the license at such a young age and I had to tell her my story.
Once I landed my first residential remodel job. (which was also a challenge due to my age) I gave my brother a one month notice and went out on my own. I was making more per week than I made per month with my brother but there were times between jobs when I had nothing to do but I didn’t mind that at all. It gave me time to play tennis and go fishing or camping.
About 2 ½ years later my brother called and wanted to meet with me. I was in between projects at the time and he wanted to make some kind of deal to get me to come back to work with him. Since I didn’t have any projects going anyway I said ok.
In January of 1983 we had several commercial projects underway and a school addition at Alexander Elem. I was at another project so my brother went by the school to inspect the completed steel and roof decking to see if it was ready for the roofer. The steel sub made a mistake and one end of a sheet of decking was not bearing on a bar joist which were 6’ o.c. The deck buckled and down my brother went. He landed on his head on the concrete floor. A coach at the school heard him holler as he went down and ran over to see what happened. His head was crushed and he was laying in a pool of blood. He turned him on his side so he would not drown in his own blood and ran inside and called an ambulance. If he had not done so he would have died right there. But he did live. He was in a coma for months and they had to wire is head and jaw all back together. When he finally woke up he did not know anyone, not even his wife or children. He was also blind in one eye from a severed optic nerve and could not taste or smell. He partially lost use of his right arm and hand. He was permanently disabled and unable to be rehabilitated. Once the wires were removed we discovered that he couldn’t speak very well either. But he could walk around just fine and learned how to do simple things. His wife cared for him at home until her death in 2010 and he died in 2015.
After my brother’s injury, my dad stepped in and helped me finish the projects he had and we closed down that business. On a whim I sent out some resumes to local contractors just to see what happened and I went to work for Canco General Contractors as a project manager. It was at Canco that I discovered just how valuable my unique experience was. During my 5 years there I learned all about, and to appreciate, pre-engineered metal buildings and re-designed many over budget projects using pre-engineered steel systems to meet the owner’s budget. In some cases the plans that the owner had previously paid for were scraped and I hired new architect and engineers and started over from scratch but in some cases the architect was willing to redesign the project under my supervision. I had never worked for any company beside my Dad’s company and I learned a great deal from my time at Canco.
I left Canco in the fall of 1992 shortly after hurricane Andrew and moved to Miami and continued in business for myself doing hurricane repairs as well as a number of other projects including Miami courthouse renovation for the GSA and the renovation of the 4 story nursing home at the Miami Hospital and Coast Guard building. I also built numerous metal buildings. I purchased a hurricane damaged home there and did the repairs, moved my family there until we sold the house in 1996 and moved back to Temple Terrace where I continued in business for myself.
I have built hundreds of buildings of just about every kind as well as some special projects. I even designed and built the hockey rink for the Tampa Bay lightning at the fairgrounds when they first started. I had no experience with ice hockey rink construction before that time. However, it never mattered if I had not built a particular type of building before. I knew how to find architects and engineers that did and I would work with them through the design and get it built with no problems.
Due to my unique experience, I was able to foresee and anticipate problems whether it was in the design phase or the construction phase and solve the problem before it happened. People would ask me how I was able to get buildings completed so fast. And it was due to that ability. Most builders do not have that ability and as a result, their projects get delayed or have cost overruns due to unanticipated problems. I’m not saying that I’ve never had a problem on a project but when I did it was usually something that could not have been known or anticipated. For example, we were excavating the foundations on a building when we encountered tons of buried trash and garbage that someone had buried there decades before. No one knew it was there. So, the job was delayed for weeks while we dug it all out and hauled it all away and brought in clean fill dirt and re-compacted.
Start of GVG Builders
In 2007, just before the recession hit I had millions of dollars in signed contracts in various stages from early design, permitting and construction phases. The day after Bank of America received a multi billion dollar bailout from the government they sent a fax out cancelling all construction loan agreements. The two projects I had in the design or permit stage were with one client and he had loan agreements with that bank. I’ll never forget his phone call telling me to hold up on everything. He and I both tried for months to find another bank to provide the construction loan but there was no bank making any construction loans. I finished up the one project that was about 90% complete and I was out of work. Fortunately I was in a position where I could retire so I did and spent the following years doing some of the things I love to do (fishing, camping, exploring, traveling, etc). I also provided tutoring for those trying to pass the contractor’s exam teaching them how to do all the math involved and coaching them on study strategies.
I saw the tide began to turn and formed GVG Builders. I could have used my same corporate name as before. I kept it active. But I wanted a new name, one that reflected the basis for my CM system. It was all about giving owners the opportunity to cut their construction costs and eliminate risks. GVG is the abbreviation for giving.
My CM system removes most every risk in a construction project except for one. That one risk is if I were to die or become incapacitated. Therefore I do have a partner. He is an engineer and is a licensed general contractor. He helps manage projects and is kept up to speed on everything I’m doing. If ever needed he can take over and the projects would not skip a beat. I have complete confidence in his ability to do that. You’ll get a chance to meet him for he will be attending design sessions and helping manage your project.
The following is a very small sampling of the hundreds of projects I’ve done over the years. Most of which I was in control of the design, estimate, and construction. This should provide you with a good feel for my experience. In no particular order.
- Ferman Oldsmobile – Brandon Florida.
- Barnet Bank in Zephyrhills – New bank building
- Medical offices for S & D Enterprises – new building in Tampa
- Fat Tuesdays restaurant – Tampa
- Little Giants learning center – New school in Riverview
- Custom Components – Manufacturing facility in Tampa
- Jay B Starkey Park ranger station – New Port Richey
- Gill Field recreational facility – Brandon
- Quality Plywood warehouse – Clearwater
- Fowler Ave. Boat ramp and park improvements – Temple Terrace
- Riverhills Church of God – New church in Tampa
- Mt. Tabor Baptist church – New church in Tampa
- Palmer Paper company – Large Warehouse addition- Tampa
- Progress Village school – Large addition
- Alexander Elementary school – Large addition
- Glamour Shots – Tampa and Cleveland Ohio
- Custom Residence – Jerry Ulm
- Custom Residence – McCormicks
- Custom Residence – Joyce Ulm
- Numerous residential and commercial remodels and additions – Tampa Bay area
- Miami Hospital – renovations of 4 floors of their nursing home.
- Miami Courthouse – Interior renovations creating new courtroom and back offices and judges chambers.
- Coast Guard – New metal building facility – Miami
- Techicar – New offices and store – Tampa
- Numerous Shopping Centers – Central Florida
- Numerous Mall store build outs – Central Florida
- Medical offices – Hernando County
- Lanier Elem. school – Addition and remodel
- West Tampa elem. School – large addition
- Shaw Elem. School – Large addition