Racism versus Return

91 Replies

Hey there,

I want to build a fence around my owner occupied fourplex. I watched a neighbor put up a beautiful 6’ privacy fence and hoped the contractor would put up a sign. They did so I called it. He came out and gave us an estimate of $25 per linear foot, which I thought was high until I got two more estimates.

So we want to go with him, but out of the blue he starts talking about how he has a few rentals and “doesn’t rent to black(people)” and uses “(racial slur) migrant laborers”.

Would you go with the cheapest/strongest contractor or pay more money for moral reasons? I’m really struggling. The right thing and the practical thing aren’t the same in my mind. Thank you!

Why would you support a racist? I wouldnt - but i also am very political with how /where i spend my money. 

Originally posted by @Grayson Gist :

Hey there,

I want to build a fence around my owner occupied fourplex. I watched a neighbor put up a beautiful 6’ privacy fence and hoped the contractor would put up a sign. They did so I called it. He came out and gave us an estimate of $25 per linear foot, which I thought was high until I got two more estimates.

So we want to go with him, but out of the blue he starts talking about how he has a few rentals and “doesn’t rent to black(people)” and uses “(racial slur) migrant laborers”.

Would you go with the cheapest/strongest contractor or pay more money for moral reasons? I’m really struggling. The right thing and the practical thing aren’t the same in my mind. Thank you!

I personally would not involve myself with such an individual, garbage has a way of creeping into your life if you expose yourself to it, especially knowingly. It's hardly plausible that with a moral compass so far off, his work ethic is somehow at an acceptable level. These things go together. He views vast swaths of our society as trash for [reasons], what makes you think he won't find some excuse to view YOU as trash for [reasons] and use that in his head to justify doing something shoddy that you will not see upfront, but will cause the fence to fail in 2.5 years? And of course if you call him on it and invoke the implied warranty in 2.5 years, he'll obviously invoke the claim that "[people] were obviously doing [thing] because [reasons], and that's what broke the fence, so that's not on me [recite in his head the reasons you are trash to justify this to himself so he can sleep at night]."

You already said he's the cheapest person to bid it, we basically know how that plays out: you get what you pay for. The above is what will be going on in his head to rationalize it.

It's improbable that he has supplied you with a list of ALL the reasons he thinks people are trash. So don't assume that because your skin is white (assuming it is), he doesn't think you are trash while he and "his kind" (which might not just be race, but political affiliation, driving a US v foreign car, etc etc) is God's unique special unicorn who can do no wrong. 

Besides the facts that he's a racist, he may cut corners to keep the price low.

My recommendation is to get a couple more quotes and pick the company with a quote somewhere in the middle of the pack. Read as many reviews as you can before choosing, or ask for referrals. 

I encourage you to do the right thing. Racism is wrong! Don't sell out for a dollar. Integrity matters and always wins out in the end. Besides, if the racist person can mistreat others, he/she might also justify mistreating you, if the situations turns sour. To build a good business, you must surround yourself with good people. It's not a hard decision, because we win (or lose) with the people we allow near us and near what we value.

@Grayson Gist - agree with all the comments above, however I'd take it another step. I'd let him know the reason you selected another person: we are a country built on the strength of a multitude of backgrounds and his racially derogatory comments are unacceptable. I'd be upfront and respectful, yet unyielding. 

After you pick someone else, give him a courtesy call to explain why you did not award him the job. America was built on the backs of many he hates. Remind/educate him.

@Grayson Gist

He was so good up until the slurs! Remind him America was founded on immigrants and prides it’s self for our melting pot of diversity. Dont hire him...

@Grayson Gist

I agree with the others that going with another contractor would be best. 

However, I disagree with everyone else in regards to confronting the contractor over his racists views. There are a lot of mentally unstable people in his world; maybe he is one of them or maybe not. Is it really worth risking the safety of you, your property, or your family?

Maybe he had a really bad interaction in his youth or was taken advantage of by somebody of another ethnicity and he has a grudge ..maybe he is racist maybe he’s an atheist maybe a democrat maybe he’s a nazi .. look the point is Are you hiring him to build you a fence or for pastoral / counseling ?

If it was a guy complaining about how he hates women would feel the same way or somebody complains about a Jewish person . His thoughts on life are not my problem that’s his . He’s digging holes and nailing up wood for crying out loud .. If the guy does good work for a fair price with good history of quality then go with him . I’ve been professional enough to see past that crap and work with lots of people ,many of which I strongly disagreed with their lifestyle their political ideas or their personal bigotry .

Thanks everyone for the comments. I grew up in a house where everyone was equal and important. That’s why my wife and I are frustrated.

I’ll keep searching.

I’m sure there are plenty of “bad” people in every industry, but I can’t openly support someone who acts and talks like that.

Originally posted by @James R. :

@Grayson Gist

I agree with the others that going with another contractor would be best. 

However, I disagree with everyone else in regards to confronting the contractor over his racists views. There are a lot of mentally unstable people in his world; maybe he is one of them or maybe not. Is it really worth risking the safety of you, your property, or your family?

Living in fear is something many of us prefer not to do. Negativity is often exacerbated by the media and it's incumbent on people to discard that mindset. There's virtually no risk to anyone's safety, property or family. However, there's a significant upside if the contractor realizes he's lost business because of his views. Maybe It's likely he won't change, but he might not be so outwardly offensive. To each his/her own......I'm one who believes in addressing these types of things in the hopes of bettering ourselves.

@Grayson Gist

You're going to run into this and other moral conflicts with people in the construction industry. I work for a phenomenal company with highly skilled and educated people, some of which still speak inappropriately about others for non-controllable factors (race, gender, etc.), this is unavoidable from what I have found. I wouldn't confront him, you're fighting a losing battle.

Cheapest isn't always the best. Just like you being able to tolerate and work with someone is extremely important. I've awarded subcontracts to companies that were several grand higher simply because of the relationship with their PM/sales rep and how much easier/efficient we work together.

That being said you're going to buy more properties in the future, meaning you want to build relationships with subs that you can utilize in future projects and are glad to recommend to other investors.

@Tchaka Owen

What is the "significant upside" for the original poster if he confronts the contractor? Best case scenario the OP gets an apology which won't be sincere or life changing for the contractor. The contractor may be a little more careful in his language prior to securing a deposit in the future. At least the contractor's currently flawed approach makes it easy to determine who you are hiring. 

You state I'm living in fear and why I am wrong. You don't know me at all yet you took the time to call me out. Per your own statement you do this in "hopes of bettering ourselves". How have you bettered your life by telling me I'm wrong?

@Tchaka Owen

What a cop out. 

I took the time to read your post and reply but you clearly intend to ignore mine. Our confrontation is very similar to the one the OP would end up having with the contractor. You confronted me to say I'm wrong and I disagreed and questioned your insult. You then put your hands over your ears and sang "la la la" I can't hear you but now the world's a better place because of me. 

My point is neither side can win. Both are set in their ways and beliefs. Neither side has enough information or knowledge of the other person to make a convincing argument as to why they should change their ways. All this leads to is a confrontation for the sake of fighting. 

"A business that only makes money is a poor business," Henry Ford. I'd pass on the low bid primarily because you should be looking at it as an investment. You should be hiring a fence builder, any builder, like they are going to build every project you are going to construct.

Hey everyone,

We found a few companies that are actually a little cheaper and have better reviews. We’re getting some estimates tomorrow.

I’m not sure about confronting him. If he ever asks about why he didn’t hear from me I’ll tell him why. I’m going to simply be fair and honest to my tenants (and obviously respectful) and hopefully that will offset his mentality and actions a little.

@Grayson Gist

I would never support a racist. This business is about people. Worst case scenario is he tells all his racist friends about the job and you. And then you have that reputation. Or something happens with him and the press and then your property somehow gets brought up by association. Or he gets into it with one of your tenants.

@Grayson Gist

Definitely don’t confront him. Best case scenario is that you turn an overt racist into a closet racist. You aren’t going to change his mind by talking to him. Worst case scenario is he and his friends begin targeting you and your properties.

@Grayson Gist

It’s hard for me to do business with people I don’t like. If you all ready don’t like him you more app to have more complications in the future. Per say he don’t finish on time, he hits rock and charges more, hits under ground utilities, ect.... it would be hard for the to handle the situation well if I allready had a dislike for the person. Just my .02 worth

I probably wouldn't do business with the guy just so I wouldn't have to hear him talk. But, that being said, if you only plan on dealing with contractors that you have no issues with, prepare for a lonely existence.
This guy ran his mouth so you got a sneak peek into his mind, but if he hadn't, you'd probably have already hired him.

I know folks that refuse to do business with people that voted for Trump because they think everyone that voted for him hates blacks, browns or whatever isn't white. In turn, these people are always struggling to find people to do business with.

Would you do business with an abortionist? How about a Trump campaign organizer? Or a vocal socialist that hates the United States? The list goes on and on.

I guess you need to draw a line in the sand that you refuse to cross, and then avoid really getting to know your contractors. 

@Grayson Gist

Im obviously a black guy, and I appreciate your concern about working with someone who is racist. However, business is business, if he does good work and will do it for you for a reasonable price I’d still go with him.

This is something I have to remind myself of daily in the business world. People are who they are and you are trying to accomplish what you are trying to accomplish. Especially if you can’t find anyone else.

However ! I wouldn’t partner with him on anything long term or recommend him to anyone and I would do this all while still praying for him. (But that’s a whole nother conversation lol, we won’t go into the economics of people who look down on minority’s.)