The Art of Working: A Day With Home Accents

By Erik Janss

Home Accents is a home improvement company that specializes in everything from painting and cabinets to stand alone structures and remodeling. They have been around since 2002 working on a wide array of projects. This past week I was given the opportunity to partake in one such project.

The day started at 8 a.m. – too early for me, but not too late for Tim Janss, the owner – with the collection of materials needed for the day ahead. This included a few boxes of screws that were heavier than they appeared, three drills and a slew of batteries and chargers. Then we were off. The drive took only a mere ten minuets. This job was closer than most – the average travel time is 20 – 25 minutes, but they have done work as far away as Bethany Beach, Delaware, according to Janss.

I arrived at the job toward the end of the project, but there was still much to do. Luke Richards, my coworker for the day, and I had to screw deck boards down. This may sound easy in theory, but in practice it is far from it. For an unskilled, untrained, and unseasoned worker such as myself, it was like trying to put a hole through a diamond with a toothpick (in reality we were drilling a metal screw through a composite board). For my fellow worker it seemed to be going much easier. As it should have been.

Richards has worked for Home Accents full-time since 2009. Home Accents was not his first experience in the industry of construction and remodeling. Over the summer of 2007, Richards was part of the Worthington Construction Company and helped build a house from the ground up. In all these years of experience the hardest thing for him to do is “remember how to do certain things,” as he puts it, because the work is so vast that one day he might be doing something that he will not use again for another two years. This is not all bad though, Richards explained that his favorite part of the job was that the work “is always different” and he gets “to learn something new every day.”

That was not the case when I was there. The work was very repetitive. We would line up a board, put about 25 screws in it and then repeat for the length of the deck. Toward the end it got tricky as the board was hanging off the edge and it was a bit heavier than I was expecting and one edge slipped, causing the board to fall. I was unable to catch it and it proceeded to break into three sections. That just goes to show that this job is not as easy as one might think.

The work I did was solely on the job, but as I talked with Janss I learned that there is a lot of behind the scenes work that makes the company successful. When the work ends on the job the work starts at home. After unloading the supplies from the job, Janss gets right to work “writing proposals, visiting prospective clients, ordering supplies, drawing plans, and bookwork”. This is not the most exciting part of the job, but it is one that must get done. I was not allowed to take part in this because of my lack of experience and the chance that I would mess something up. When it is all said and done Janss loves what he does for one reason – his family. Before Home Accents he thought he was going to be a Mining Engineer, but after college he became a hydrologist and quickly advanced to running an office and becoming the vice president of a company. Despite being successful, the VP position, he explained, “Required extensive travel, causing me to miss the first several years of my children’s young life.” This is why he fell back on the skills he learned in high school and paying for college.

In my time working for Home Accents I learned two things about the home improvement industry; there is much work that goes on behind the scenes and not everyone is fit for the job – including me. Tim and Luke were kind enough to take me under their wing and show me the ropes and those are the people who do the jobs we all take for granted – kind, trustworthy and hardworking individuals that will get the job done right the first time.

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