When did you join the IUPAT and what is your craft?
April 1985, Drywall Finisher (Taper)
Why did you choose the IUPAT to begin a career?
I struggled in high school. I was bored and couldn’t focus in a classroom. When I graduated, I saw construction as my chance to go where I felt I belonged. I chose the IUPAT because it was the same career path as both my father and brother, and it was the career that had provided for my family.
How long were you in the field before you started training?
I worked in the field from 1985 – 1999. I became a part-time instructor in 1994, a full-time instructor in 1999 and a Director of Training in 2004.
What were your thoughts when you were offered the Director of Training (DOT) position? What went through your mind on the challenges ahead?
I was excited. It presented a new set of challenges and allowed me to become more involved in the processes of apprenticeship.
What inspired you to train instead of continuing to work in the field?
I think every tradesperson thinks about it. I remember working on a job and going through the steps and thinking about how I would demonstrate the finishing process to an apprentice.
What do you find are the biggest challenges in training apprentices today?
The lack of instant gratification. Training apprentices takes time, but the industry moves at a fast pace. It seems as though every job is on a fast track, and the journeymen don’t have as much time to train the apprentices in the field. It’s a hard balance. They’re needed in the field, but they also need to be trained well in the classroom.
What drives you to keep training?
The Union and the training department have become everything to me. It’s personal.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a trainer and how did you successfully overcome it?
Five years after I started training, I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure if I could continue as a trainer. Fortunately, I was offered a new challenge, the Director of Training position. It took a while, but everything eventually clicked.
What is (or are some of) your proudest moment(s) as a trainer?
Sometimes you feel as though you’re just grinding your gears. But every now and then, you teach a class and the feedback is really positive, and you know you nailed it and made a difference in someone’s life. Those are great times.
The best times (and the most stressful) are at graduation. I want everything to be perfect for the graduates, and it gets personal. I want to share something insightful that will connect with the room, but sometimes I struggle to find the right thing to say. Recently, I had a young lady graduate. That night she was crying, thanking us and telling us that we had changed her life. Moments like that last forever.
Any thoughts on what the next game-changer will be in training programs? Technology? Materials? Access?
Not yet. But there will be something.
Advice for trainers out there reading this today?
Hang in there. We make a difference in more ways than you know.