Spending time with…Mike Houseman, Wolverine North America

Mike Houseman, President, Wolverine North America

The president of general contractor leader Wolverine North America on being a momma’s boy, why morning is the best time of day to get things done and why taking risks is a good thing (if they are measured).

What’s the most cherished item in your office?
The championship trophy from our Wolverine Superintendents Golf Outing. We have not been able to hold the next tournament, so it appears my foursome will be the reigning champions indefinitely.

What’s your favorite time to get things done?
Early morning or after dinner in the evening. This allows me to work with less distractions and seems to be more productive for detailed tasks.

Hanging with friends.

Who’s on the soundtrack that plays in the background of your office?
I listen to my playlist on my phone. I have been told by many that I have the most unusual playlist because my music will jump from modern rock ‘n roll to Christian rock and country, then to classics. You get the idea.

Name the band you can’t take off your playlist.
I have so many to choose from because I like so many types of music. I would have to say Elton John would be the one who sticks out, but there are a lot of close seconds.

What does a typical workday look like?
It usually starts around 6:30 at home. Then I head to the office or for the first meetings of the day. My day consists of meetings with potential or existing clients, assisting in design of their buildings or overseeing the design of masterplans for multi-use developments

What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on a job site?
When I started my construction career, I was a steel erector with a lot of crazy fun pranksters. One day, after finishing lunch and heading back to work, I decided to stop at the Port-a-John on the way back. The crew took advantage of my vulnerability. They proceeded to wrap it up with a chain, hook it to a crane and lift me about 50 feet in the air. They left me swinging for about an hour. Thank goodness I had an extra soda pop and a bag of chips to pass the time.

Mom Houseman wIth grandsons Ryan & Tyler.

What are you binge watching right now?
I am in Season 2 of Ozarks. It’s one of those series that has so many different things going on you can’t miss a minute.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done since the pandemic hit?
I had a friend drive me from Lake Charlevoix Michigan to Mackinac Island on a 63-foot yacht. I have been to Mackinac Island, but never by way of Lake Michigan. To ride through the straights of Mackinac and see the Mackinac Bridge from the water below is breathtaking. It’s amazing to see what it took to build such a wonder.

What has this experience taught you?
Try to never overreact. Don’t get angry—it never helps provide solutions. As a business owner, I learned to avoid litigation at all cost even when you know you are right.

If you knew what was going to happen, what would you have done differently?
Regarding the pandemic, I would have tried to maintain a more positive proactive approach. If I knew it was coming, I would have planned some activities to spend more quality time with my wife and family. I also would have used the time better to work on things for self-improvement or get pet projects around the house completed.

Favorite comfort food.
I nice glass of cabernet.

Best advice you ever received?
Do not fear or be upset with unexpected change. Change in any form can end up being for the good. It’s all in what we decide to do with it. “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

Biggest influence in your life?
My mom. Yes, I’m a momma’s boy. I actually had it pretty good as a kid, but my father was not the most attentive to the family. My mom was always there to help me through hard times and show me how to persevere even when things seemed bleak or impossible. Even when times were stressful and tough for my mom, she never took it out on others and rarely showed signs of how much stress or fear she had. She always taught me to look on the “bright side.” When things come our way, good or bad, we have a choice—look at what is bad or look at what is good. Focusing on what is good in every situation has brought me through 56 years of life, and business has brought me to where I am today.

What trait do you most admire?
This is hard because all traits, if they are good traits, are important. I would have to say that a good attitude would be the one I most admire. Individuals gifted with this trait tend to enjoy life much more. People want to be around those who have a good attitude.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient. Take risks, but make sure to think everything through. Never let work stress you out to the point you don’t enjoy your life and family. You will never get that time back. Life does not get slower from this point; it goes by faster and faster, so be sure to take in as much as you can, experience as much as you can and find joy in everyday!

What is the first thing you are going to do when you are able to get back to some sense of normalcy?
I want to run up to a perfect stranger and give them a hug without a mask on!

 

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