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Greencastle contractor builds a firm

March 20, 2001

Greencastle contractor builds a firm



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

Pam AndersonPhoto: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Hiring contractors to renovate their 1886 farmhouse, plus pitching in with the work at nights and on weekends, gave Tom and Pam Anderson a modern eight-room home.

It also prompted Pam Anderson, a speech therapist, to switch careers and start her own construction company.

Anderson, 45, started a partnership with one of the contractors who helped to renovate her home on Grindstone Hill Road. The partnership lasted through 1997, when the partners split to go separate ways, Anderson said. The business then became Anderson Construction.

"I learned the hands-on side of the business from my partner. We did everything together - roofing, concrete work, drywall, new construction and remodeling," Anderson said. "It was hard for me to go on my own as a general contractor at first because I was so dependent on him. I didn't have the confidence I needed."

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She soon gained that confidence from fellow members of the 420-member Franklin County Builders Association. "They would come out to my job site when I got in a bind," she said.

It wasn't long before her fellow association members had enough confidence in Anderson to elect her president of the organization. She was president in 1999 and now serves on the board of directors. She is also vice president of the South Central Region of the Pennsylvania Builders Association.

Just last week, Anderson was named Small Contractor of the Year by the 12,200-member Pennsylvania Builders Association. According to an association press release, she was selected for her significant contributions to the home-building industry and to her state and local trade organizations and for her community activism.

Anderson admits that her strong point is not wielding a hammer. Although she often works on the job alongside carpenters, plumbers, electricians and laborers and uses the same hand and power tools they do, she is the sole employee in her company. She hires subcontractors for most of the work on new construction and does as much as she can on remodeling jobs.

Anderson said her main strength is estimating the cost of the jobs and scheduling the subcontract work as it progresses.

"I have to use my brain a lot. The construction business is mainly problem solving," she said. "That means getting the materials on site and lining up the subcontractors and making sure they show up at the right time. I'm on the phone a lot. I'm good at staying on schedule. The worst thing is for a subcontractor to come on the job and me not be ready."

Unlike most builders, Anderson takes on one job at a time and stays with it until it's finished, whether she is building a new home from the ground up or remodeling an old one.

She also keeps up on the latest technology in the building business. More and more, she puts her homes together using prefabricated and modular construction methods. Entire pre-cast concrete foundation walls are delivered to the job site, set down with cranes and bolted into place. The same is true of panelized walls, which speed the construction process.

"They save time. They are built in a controlled environment, there's less waste and it saves manpower," she said. "The construction business is getting more sophisticated all the time."

Anderson met her husband while both were in high school in Illinois. She went on to earn a master's degree in speech pathology and ended up teaching in public schools. Tom Anderson went on to a medical degree. The couple moved to the area in 1986 for Tom's job at Chambersburg Hospital, where he is medical director of the emergency care unit.

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