Ingenuity and skill are trademarks of Albion contractor
Should fingers and hands suddenly appear on Bobby Abrahams arms “they would be in the way” he said.
The self-employed construction contractor from Albion has learned to do without for years.
And it was a “freak of nature” Abrahams said, he was born without hands and fingers in 1969.
Doctors told his mother that in the 1960s, 1 in 10,000 were afflicted with that condition.
Regardless, be it installing siding to roofing to driving a tractor, he finds a way to get the job done.
“I love working with my hands – construction, fabrication, auto mechanics – but it seems funny – I don’t have any hands,” he said.
Working with only wrists and palms, he’s learned to quickly adapt, be flexible, and think his way through projects, be they automotive or construction.
When necessary, Abrahams has built attachments and extensions which have taken the place of his missing hands and fingers.
Changing the glow plug in his diesel truck recently required much work, he said, but he found a way.
He also built the family home in Albion two years ago.
His business is Abrahams’s Construction, and when he is not building hog chutes for Burt Family Farms of Marshalltown, you will see him and work trailer around central Iowa.
He is booked with work the next two months – but wants to make sure he has time to help plant for the Burts and friend Russ Mason of Albion.
“I am so busy,” he said of his construction business, “I have a number of jobs going.”
Much of his work is roofing, in tandem with bathroom and kitchen remodeling.
Some is from repeat customers, who know my work and pricing, he said. Most of the time, people want a bid,they want to compare.
He does not do carpeting, concrete, or gutters for hire.
“Carpeting is too hard on the body and there are too many concrete contractors out there – many have been doing it for a long time,” he said. “And it is easier to fix a piece of siding than correct a problem with concrete. I do concrete for myself or friends only, last year I poured about 60 to 80 yards.”
Abrahams grew up on a farm, as his dad worked as a hired hand.
And in his heart Abrahams never left the farm.
“I love to farm, and I love driving a tractor,” he said.
A casual conversation at a baseball game with Alan Burt of Marshalltown earned him a job driving a tractor in parades during Burt’s campaign for state representative last fall.
That opportunity led to numerous construction jobs with the Burts, where Abrahams has the best of both worlds – doing construction work on a farm.
He relishes planting, harvesting or just hanging out at a farm when his day jobs are done.
“When I am not at home after work, I am usually at Mason’s farm,” he said.
Growing up on a farm gave Abrahams numerous opportunities to learn the many construction skills that have served him well.
His first construction job of consequence came when, at 15, his dad hired him and a friend to shingle a roof.
“Construction is my bread and butter,” he said. “It has gotten me to where I am now.”