Jim Patrick, the foreman and partial owner of DHIP Construction and Remodeling, is an ideal subject in a case study on cause and effect relationships. In November of 2004, Jim was contracted to construct a two-level roof-top deck and convert a window to a door at Zhanna and Andrew’s house in Baltimore. At the onset of the project, Jim estimated that the job would be complete within approximately three weeks. After the first week, Andrew began referring Jim to friends who needed the services of a contractor because of the apparent workmanship of the job and the fact that his project was moving at an excellent pace. Nearly immediately thereafter, Jim was hardly ever present at the jobsite, and by the beginning of April, the project was still not complete. Jim had an endless onslaught of excuses for the delays, but because Zhanna and Andrew knew that Jim was mostly working on the houses of Andrew’s friends, they knew that he was not being truthful. When Zhanna and Andrew eventually managed to motivate Jim to work on their project, his work was no longer of the same caliber they had come to expect. Many of the project details went overlooked or were rushed to completion. This lack of workmanship and professionalism infuriated both Zhanna and Andrew, and soon Andrew found himself telling his friends to not, under any circumstances, contract with Jim. To exacerbate the problem, Jim came to collect on the last of the money owed by Zhanna and Andrew while they were entertaining friends, and before the project had been completed. When Andrew refused to pay Jim before the completion of the project, Jim became enraged and began making a scene and acting as if Andrew was being unfair and unreasonable. As Jim left Zhanna and Andrew’s house without his check, Andrew returned to the company of Zhanna and their friends where he told the entire story and informed each person that they should never hire Jim. As Zhanna and Andrew live in a very close neighborhood where news travels quickly, Jim was effectively barred from working in the neighborhood. Because Jim failed to keep his promises, failed to maintain high standards of workmanship, and failed to remain professional as the job came to a close, he succeeded in eliminating the possibility of procuring new contracts in Zhanna and Andrew’s neighborhood.
Among the three principal causes for Jim Patrick being effectively barred from doing business in Zhanna and Andrew’s neighborhood, his failure to keep promises is chief. Over the course of the project at Zhanna and Andrew’s house, Jim promised that he would complete the job within three weeks. He then amended that promise to mean that he would have the project complete before Christmas. When Christmas passed, he promised completion before New Year’s Eve. Eventually, Jim gave up on making time-related promises and began promising that the quality of the project’s workmanship would be unlike that of any other in the neighborhood. Andrew and Zhanna soon noted that this was yet another broken promise when, upon inspecting the deck, they noted that nails were missing in a number of places, and that some of the stairs used to access the upper-level deck were positioned at dangerous intervals. When Jim promised to rectify the issues that Andrew and Zhanna brought to light, even this he only partially accomplished. In so doing, Jim was not only breaking promises, but also compromising his workmanship.
Another cause for the ultimate effect of Jim losing potential work in Zhanna and Andrew’s neighborhood is that, toward the end of construction, he began taking shortcut’s and compromising the quality of his work. Specifically, Jim often claimed that Zhanna and Andrew should have faith in his abilities because, given sufficient time, he could solve any problem and make anything look good while also being functional. One example had to do with the small vertical posts that span from the railing to the outer sides of the deck which are referred to as pickets. Mostly, these pickets were cut to size, plumbed (made vertical), then attached to the deck using woodscrews. However, Both Zhanna and Andrew quickly noted that some of the small posts were not securely fastened, and in some cases not fastened at all. Upon noticing these workmanship shortcomings, Zhanna and Andrew began to suspect that Jim was not only compromising the quality of his work, but being plainly negligent and unprofessional.
The final significant cause of Jim Patrick’s loss of work prospects in Andrew and Zhanna’s neighborhood is his lack of professional behavior. Although Zhanna and Andrew made it clear from the time that they contracted Jim that they would not be excessively demanding of how he or his employees conducted themselves while they were working, Andrew was utterly appalled at Jim’s reaction to the fact that he would refuse to entirely pay him until the job was fully completed. When Andrew informed Jim that he would rather not pay the remaining balance owed for completion of the project until the work was actually complete, Jim snatched the building inspector’s approval note and permit back from Andrew and told him in a challenging tone that he couldn’t believe that he (Andrew) was going to hang him up over a couple of small details. When Andrew maintained that it was only fair that full payment be remitted after full service was rendered, Jim simply stormed out of the house while asserting over his shoulder that it was not fair. Not only did Jim choose an inopportune time to visit Andrew and Zhanna in search of payment, but he made his anger very visible despite the fact that he had no real reason to be angered. This behavior, in consort with Jim’s already tarnished credibility and respectability ultimately left Zhanna and Andrew with a very negative impression of the whole experience.
The ultimate effect of Jim’s performance while working for Zhanna and Andrew is that Andrew and Zhanna, not only refused to do any further business with Jim, but they strongly advised their friends to likewise not do business with Jim. Although he had secured one contract by a mid-project referral, both Andrew and Zhanna made a point toward the end of their dealings to discourage anyone that they knew from contracting with Jim. In fact, Andrew even went so far in one instance as to actively seek out an individual to whom he had referred Jim and stress the fact that Jim was unreliable and undependable. Although the ramifications of this particular experience are hard to quantify, it is safe to assume that Jim Patrick will no longer do business in the contractor hungry neighborhood of Butcher’s Hill.
Jim Patrick’s story is one where a few key causes let to an immediate economic effect of Jim losing approximately $35,000 in gross project earnings. Had Jim kept his promises (or at least come close) maintained his workmanship level, and then, when it was most important, kept his cool and remained professional, he would be working on no fewer than two projects in Butchers Hill. However, as the primary effect of his shortcomings, Jim will have extreme difficulty in doing further business in an area of Baltimore where he had hoped to expand.