Smith Shop 3: Feedback Workshop with Youth Build Philly

Even in a tight family owned business, feedback is still an obstacle. Often management feels uncomfortable giving direct, behaviorally based feedback on performance to administration and labor staff alike.


We partnered with Youth Build Philly for the final Smith Shop workshop of the year on feedback. The intent of the workshop was to provide a structured approach to feedback, teaching YBP students how to give and receive effective feedback on the job site and in the workplace, by using an interactive workshop format. This workshop was facilitated by Angelique Hunter and Jelissa Jones of Smith Flooring Inc.


Starting with seven simple steps for giving effective feedback, students were given a practical way to execute a hard conversation in the workplace. These simple steps were used to develop strategies for framing the feedback in terms which are useful for students looking to take on a management role or becoming a better team player. This workshop also included the development of the workshop scenarios which participants were provided specific strategies for giving and receiving effective feedback in various situations.

About the Smith Shop Initiative:

Smith Shop is an event series organized by Smith Flooring Inc. giving students, emerging professionals and local community members the opportunity to interact with tools and professionals in the design, building and construction field. This initiative will encourage engagement and discussion through a range of events—including workshops, panel discussions, round tables, lectures, networking events, site tours, online activities, etc.—that address different aspects of the construction industry. These events will provide all generations the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and participate in hands on activities, while giving established builders and designers the opportunity to support an under served community. Smith Shop will create a structure that is self-perpetuating, providing tools and support for our young people to develop rewarding careers and become tomorrow’s building leaders.

Smith Flooring Success Story

Construction is nothing new to James Smith, VP of Smith Flooring Inc. Throughout his childhood he worked with his father, installing residential flooring. In those years working for his father, he learned to master floors and went on to become a very profitable union carpenter.  As his experience grew, clients were impressed and encouraged him to start his own business. The journey began in 2006, when Kristin, his wife, decided to join him in running their commercial flooring business. 


Today, James—along with his wife Kristin and step-daughter Angelique—owns and operates a 15 employee company that provides a not only commercial flooring installation but a diverse number of services that include all aspects of facility management, general carpentry, plumbing, painting, HVAC, electrical installation and solar power projects throughout the Tri-State Area. “Passion has made us a leader in this field,” says James.

 “We’ve been in business since 2006 and our solid reputation has continued,” Smith says.

“We are leading in quality and value on so many levels – no one else can replicate what we do.” 


Attention to detail, focus on quality work and maintaining excellent relationships with clients, vendors and employees alike are the reasons the company remains at the top. James and Kristin have merged their skills to create a firm that delivers top-notch work in a professional, family oriented environment.  


Having superior workers with a healthy work ethic helped Smith handle a growth period that started at the end of the recession. Going above and beyond ensures Smith maintains excellent relationships with their clients. The vast majority of the feedback on the firm in the field is highly complementary, says Angelique, who handles communication and client relations. “I get amazing feedback from clients regarding the great work we do and how smooth our projects are executed,” she says. “It’s because our guys are skilled craftsman, and most of them have been here forever.” 


James adds, “Throughout my life I have been guided by many mentors, stood on many shoulders. Some for the good and some not so good. I made a promise to one such mentor, that my debt would not be repaid to him until I, in turn, gave back to my community, what he has given to me. And so, each and every day I look to help make a difference in the lives of those with whom my path crosses.

 You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” – Vernon Jordan

They have also credited mentors and advisors to their accelerated success. With the intense work and advisement of Bruce Downing at Widener University, Smith has found PTAC to be “extremely helpful in facilitating the contract process by ensuring we were taking the necessary steps at the planning phases. As a small business, we were given the right tools and direction from experts.” 


Although flooring work is what James calls the company’s “sweet spot,” the firm has added several capabilities in the past year. Due to their commitment to quality, comprehensive management controls and competitive pricing combined with a passion for design and details, Smith Flooring lead position as a construction management firm is near.  


Read Widener University, PTAC excerpt version here>>>