If you live in the southeastern portion of the United States, you might be familiar with Baker Roofing, one of the nation’s largest roofing contractors. And if you are familiar with Baker Roofing, you might also be familiar with a phrase that is prominently displayed on each of their work trucks, a promise that founder W.P. Baker first posted to the front door of his downtown Raleigh shop in 1915:
We shall do good work
At a profit if we can
At a loss if we must
But always good work
At twenty-one words long, it’s a statement that requires a little time and effort to digest. To the highway driver passing by, it’s a blur of language. To the stationary driver, perhaps held captive by a stoplight, it’s readable. But to the truly receptive audience, sharing common values, it’s poetry.
I love that it puts “good work” front and center. It’s not about gimmicks or promotions. It’s about the quality of the outcome, plain and simple. Whether you’re looking for a doctor or a mechanic, a lawyer or a roofer, what you ultimately need is a job well done.
I love that, by saying “at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must,” it acknowledges that the pursuit of good work is sometimes bumpy. It’s an assurance to the customer that if a project does not go as planned, the business’s profitability may suffer, but the quality of its work will not.
One of the many reasons I’m thankful to work at Coleman Insights is that I know these values are shared. It’s a culture that was established by our founder, Jon Coleman, and carries on today. When costs are higher than expected, we accept them and consider how to make better estimates in the future. When mistakes are made, we find them and make things right. We try to focus not so much on the profitability of the individual project, but instead on the process of doing the kind of good work that yields long-lasting relationships with our clients and success for our business.
Always good work. It’s a mindset that has worked well for Baker Roofing, works well for Coleman Insights, and I bet—knowing our readers—works well for many of you.