When did you join the IUPAT and what is your craft?
I joined in 2003 as an Industrial Painter.
Why did you choose the IUPAT to begin a career?
After working non-union for most of my career, I found myself without healthcare and without a retirement savings. I knew I was headed in the wrong direction. I was working alongside the union painters at the Kennedy Space Center for several years and admired their training and education. When I heard they had an opening I jumped on it and I have never looked back. The union is the way to go for a secure future.
How long were you in the field before you started training?
I worked in the field 1996 – 2013 and started training part time in 2012. I was I hired as a coordinator in July 2013 and by the next month I was interim director. By the end of 2013 I became the Director of Training.
What were your thoughts when you were offered the Director of Training position?
At first, I was honored and humbled that my peers would trust me with such a position. I was also sobered by the fact that I was taking on something that was bigger than me and not all about me.
What went through your mind on the challenges ahead?
I knew that if I listened to the needs of the members, and took the direction of my leadership, along with a lot of prayer, I could not and would not let anyone down.
What inspired you to train instead of continuing to work in the field?
When I came to the Union I was hungry for the knowledge of my trade. I wanted to be an expert at what I did and the IUPAT made that possible. The sky is the limit with training. I took advantage of every learning opportunity and that’s what lead me to where I am today. I want to give that same opportunity to others and that is what lead me to training.
What do you find are the biggest challenges in training apprentices today?
One challenge is keeping the apprentices focused on the prize which in my mind is not topping out. Topping out is the result of the knowledge and experience you gain with an “Earn While you Learn Apprenticeship.” The best place I can be in life is to be confident in what I do. The only way I can achieve that confidence is with knowledge and experience. Yes, money is nice, but being able to accomplish my daily tasks with confidence is golden. Everyone wants to skip the training and experience and top out. Getting apprentices to see the value of training and experience is our biggest challenge as instructors.
What drives you to keep training?
Being able to have a positive influence on the lives of other people drives me to keep training.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a trainer and how did you successfully overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me as trainer is the love / hate feeling I get from contractors and members alike. When I got this job the president of the North Ga Building Trades shook my hand and said, “Congratulations and condolences.” I asked what he meant by that and he said, “You have just landed one of the most gratifying jobs that will allow you to help everyone you come across, and everyone will hate you for it.” I found some truth to that, however, in the beginning I was a little taken back by that statement. I thought to myself, how could people you work so hard for attack and ridicule you? With time, I came to understand that everybody has skin in the game, whether it be a contractor or a member. Everyone just wants to protect what they have and get what they can. Nothing is personal and no one is at fault. It is just human nature and we are here to serve and nothing else. Understanding that concept allows me to sleep well and know that this job is extremely rewarding.
What is (or are some of) your proudest moment(s) as a trainer?
The day “we” at DC 77 opened our new training facility in Atlanta. It was a team effort like I had never experienced in my life. Our international members, the DC 77 staff, the co-chairs of FTI DC 77, Chuck Hill and Chuck Bialeschki all came together to build one of the top five union training facilities in the country. We all contributed with everything we had. It was one of the largest challenges with the greatest reward for our membership. It will pay off for years to come and it was a great privilege to be apart of it.
Any thoughts on what the next game-changer will be in training programs? Technology? Materials? Access?
Technology is swiftly evolving and the world is at our fingertips. I would be foolish to guess, but what can and will always be worth investing in is education, education and education. It always changes the game. The day we stop learning is the day we die.
Advice for trainers out there reading this today?
The IUPAT offers all of the free training you can stand as long as you are a member in good standing. Take advantage of every little bit, give back as much and retire happy!