Problems at Work, could use some help *long* **cliffs**

Disclaimer – Long Read, but I did it intentionally to add some dynamic to my work situation, because for me this problem is not very black and white. I added pics at the bottom because I know I like pics, so I assume you guys do to…. Thanks For the Help!!

Background on myself

I am 24 years old, graduated from University of Utah where I majored in Urban Planning.
I graduated in May 06 and moved back to my hometown just north of Chicago to be closer to my family and for the new job I took.

Background on my job

I work for a custom home building business. The only two real employees are my boss and myself. We work as real estate developers and are the project managers for all the work we do.

I had no real experience in building so the last two years has been a lot of trial and error and my boss teaching me a lot and putting up with a lot. I finally feel as if I am “getting it” and am becoming rather proficient at my job, but not to the point where I have reached the end of the learning curve with my job. I feel what I have learned has given me a greater appreciation for the workplace and taught me things college never could have and this is why I am so loyal to my boss, he took a chance hiring me really.

Now I’ll speak of how my job actually stacks up:

I was to be hired on as an independent contractor. This works out great for employers as they don’t have to contribute to paying any portion of my taxes, health care, or retirement in any way.
The way we talked about it my compensation started out as follows:
$30,000 a year starting
cell phone bill paid for ~$150 a month
gas/vehicle stipend of ~$150 a month.

• Being able to work easy hours. (9 – 4 usually)
• Driving around in my car most of the time listening to music and I am not confined to an office
• Taking off time when I want, be it vacation or I want to go to a Cubs game or something
• The chance to learn how the building business operates and be immersed in every aspect of it(as opposed to being in an office being just part of a puzzle). This is huge for me.

• Im an independent contractor so I pay all my own taxes
• I pay for my own health insurance
• I put on a lot of miles and gas through my Jeep.
• No retirement savings acct to contribute to.

Recent History
Everything was going great for job-wise. In the first year and half I was working with the builder, we built (1) $2.5 million dollar spec house, (1) 4 million dollar spec house and acquired a great piece of property upon which to build a 6 million dollar spec house.

Then the building crisis hit that everyone is aware of. So here my company sits with three pieces of property that no one has bought and we are paying juice on every month, somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 a month. The future of our company lies in these properties selling. If they don’t sell, we can only pay out of pocket for so long before we fold.

To adjust we picked up 2 remodel jobs that had budgets of 200,000 and 420,000 dollars. We were the project managers for these jobs and our fee was 15 percent. The first job our take was $30,000 and the second job our take was $60,000 roughly. Of that, I was promised 10% of our net profits at the end of the project. So my take should be $9,000 dollars roughly. I quickly became the person managing these to projects on a day to day basis and felt myself doing the bulk of the workload. I do not find this a problem as I crave independence and working alone. I feel I can accomplish things much better this way. The subcontractors liked me and so did the homeowners. I feel it is fair to say I put my soul into these projects from beginning to end and we had no problem getting paid out in full. This is where I should expect my bonuses right?

The only problem is that my company is extremely strapped for cash right now, with no promises of more coming anytime soon. My boss has always stressed to pay subcontractors first and foremost and we have. Additionally, he always abided by the motto “you don’t steal from peter to pay paul”. My concern is that since we are running out of money as a business, the conversation may come up where my boss says he cannot pay me the bonuses for completing these projects, he has to pay bills instead. It will boil down to bonus money that is owed to me will have to be used to keep the company afloat. What the hell am I supposed to say to this if it arises?

I feel a certain amount of loyalty to my boss, he is a great guy at heart and has taught me quite a bit, but I also signed onto this job with expectations of getting paid for each project. My salary is mediocre at best. The reason for this is that I get paid via bonuses from each project, which motivates me to finish faster and do a good job, but now I may not even get that. But, its also not like my boss is hoarding cash for himself. Every dime we get goes towards paying the bills and he is surviving on credit cards basically.

So, what do I do now? We have two homes on the market, that if sold, I could receive commission checks totaling somewhere around $50,000. This could happen today or tomorrow or 1 year from now(provided we last that long) We just completed the two remodel projects where I am due $9,000. I love working at my job given what I am learning and the freedoms I have. I still receive my base salary of $30,000+remimbursments. If I quit, do I give up the guaranteed paycheck in these tough economic times?
I really am counting on these meager bonuses from the remodel job to move out of home, pay off my Jeep and get a place down in the city.

• I work as a project manager for a construction company and love my job
• I make mediocre base salary and get bonuses when projects are completed
• The housing market sucks and my company picked up some remodel jobs in the mean time to pay bills
• We completed the projects, but my company is running low on funds.
• The conversation may come up where my company may not be able to pay me my bonuses.
• The answer is not as simple as QUIT. We have two completed spec homes where I could receive bonuses of up to 50,000 if they sell. The company is just one other guy and myself and he and I work great together and I cant really just tell him “go fuck yourself”
• I really am counting on the bonuses, but the company may not survive much longer.
• What the fuck do I do?

Once Again, I appreciate any and all that read my shit and can give me some advice!

From what I gather, you’re worried about not getting your bonuses, correct?

Bonuses are just that, bonuses. As in, optional, not guaranteed or expected.

As long as they can cover your minimum fees/pay, there’s probably not much you can do.
Kind of, but a bonus that is not guaranteed as i see it applies to projects like the spec homes we build. We may make a profit, we may show up with money at the closing.

The "bonus"(I should really redefine this) I receive for the remodel projects is a percentage of our profit that is to be paid to me at the successful completion of the project. We completed the project, the company took in X amount of money, I should receive 10% of x for the work I did, right?
I have come to terms with watching our spec homes sit and not receiving a dime for those, but these are actual projects we completed and got paid in full on.
But I also see your point in that I shouldn’t EXPECT them per se. I guess that is what bothers me so much. I was told I would be rewarded at the end and now its the end and the response could be "sorry, timing is bad, cant pay you". If this was a normal company I would go Office Space on the place, but I like my arrangement.
It sounds more like a commission than a bonus to me. And you are most certainly due your commissions.
I read your whole post but really don’t have much knowledge on the topic.. However, I came to say that’s some beautiful property you guys got there.
It’s not fair at all. You were promised a bonus and should receive it. You are an employee, not a partner. Though you don’t get the benefits for the amount of work that you do, you don’t have to face the risks either. If he absolutely can’t pay you the bonuses right now, then I would ask for a higher commission for when those houses do sell.
theres a savings acct you can contribute to: Its called the one you set up!!!!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.