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Unsung Heroes of the Durham Innovation District and Beyond

Durham Innovation District

As recent as July 14, 2016, The News & Observer heralded the unveiling of plans for two seven-story buildings to be built downtown as part of the continued development of the Durham Innovation District. Several elements of the article captivated my attention; items that were present in the material and items that were not.

Durham Innovation District

Naturally, the article image (above, Courtesy of Duda Paine Architects), rendering the two new buildings to be named North and South and capturing the beauty of the anticipated landscape, enticed my gaze. What also intrigued my thoughts was how the post skillfully included various “making it happen” contributors, those who might be considered the “heroes” of development. In addition to Duda Paine Architects, the post included Longfellow Real Estate Partners, Measurement Inc., and Duke University. As a lessee of the new development, the article also announced Duke Clinical Research Institute. With appreciation for their contribution–and rightly so they should receive recognition–I paused.

So what elements, not included, beg for attention? Amazingly, that which the article mentions inspires a beyond the surface exploration. Look through the windows of the two office buildings. See rooms, technology space, the retail businesses, the restaurants. Did you see it? Yes, imagine the employers, employees, managers, store owners, waiters, and waitresses, and chefs diligently engaged in service in their varied workspaces. Yes, workspaces! How did those workspaces come about?

Looking Beyond

Thinking of such construction projects, we may expectedly picture the abled excavators, electricians, and plumbers, as well as those contractors handling the framing, priming, and painting. After the laying of the carpet, and perhaps while completing the landscaping, the work of the unsung heroes must take place to make the project usable. Yes, the work of the workspace movers and installers.

Top Shelf Installerz and Moverz, Inc., owned by Angelo McEachin, of Durham, NC, is one such company. It exists “to provide, through installation, moving, and general maintenance services, the perfect workspace for businesses in the hospitality, commercial and residential markets.”1 Moreover, while providing this essential service to the incoming lessees, the moving and installation industry assist in providing employment for The Bull City, even for those needing a second chance at life.

The line of products may carry the name Steelcase, Herman Mills, Knoll, Teknion, National Office Furniture, or Hon. Whatever the product, whoever the lessee, while applauding the movers and the shakers, we must sing a song in concert with the words, “Let the work begin!” Let us sing a song of gratitude for an industry that will faithfully serve as this development project closer. Let us applaud the movers and the installers serving Durham, the Triangle, and beyond.

1McEachin, Angelo. July 14, 2016,

Are You a Risky Subcontractor?

Red Rock Canyon

Of recent, while reviewing the tips for visitors hiking through a canyon in Nevada, my eyes zeroed in on the warning of snakes. It read “Watch out for snakes under or on top of rocks.” While the warning did not cause me to turn around and go home, my focus was more concentrated as I walked the narrow, sometimes rocky, path. Even more recent, when reading a thought about workers’ compensation, I came across a warning concerning subcontractors. It read “Watch out for uninsured subcontractors.” Seriously? Is there an actual risk to be avoided?

The presence of mind that crafty, coiling creatures could verily be waiting around every bend of the trail admittedly created a somewhat peeked adventurous excitement to the canyon trek. However, for the business or general contractor, reading a caution about a subcontractor who cannot provide a valid certificate of insurance, a somewhat concerning unsettled ambivalence may be felt. Such ambivalence could lower your perceived value in the eyes of the employer, engendering fewer opportunities. The subcontractor that has her own workers’ compensation certainly has more safety appeal.

Consider Jack the contractor, who can provide a valid certificate of insurance any time he responds to a project advertisement. He shares with Artie, the general contractor, “I am certainly a less liability to you having my insurance!” This adds value to Jack’s pitch for employment. Artie sees Jack as a prudent partner in business, a responsible person. Artie faces insurance audits with confidence; he is happy. Artie consistently calls upon Jack for different projects; Jack is happy.

So, what about the adventurous excitement of completing a project with a sense of security that there is available coverage for any job mishap? Is it possible your employer will experience such excitement? Alternatively, will people like Artie see you as a risky contractor? Along with references, having workers’ compensation adds great value to subcontractors when seeking employment.