In this series of stories during National Apprenticeship Week, we speak with VU students and alumni about their life-changing apprenticeship experiences.
Associated Builders & Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky Apprenticeship Program
Apprenticeship Technology Associate Degree
2023 ABC National Craft Professional of the Year
Vincennes University’s partnership with ABC of Indiana/Kentucky began more than 17 years ago. The program trains apprentices employed at ABC member companies, or anyone interested in the commercial and industrial construction industries. Students in the ABC program earn academic credit towards an associate degree while avoiding student debt. The program is designed specifically for ABC apprentices working to achieve Journeyman Level in the Electrical, Carpentry, HVAC, Pipefitting, Plumbing, Sheet Metal, Lineman, or EST trade through a U.S. Department of Labor-approved program.
What are your thoughts on being honored as the 2023 ABC National Craft Professional of the Year which is awarded to a construction craft professional who excels in their field and demonstrates a commitment to safety, workforce development, and the merit shop philosophy?
Being named the 2023 National Craft Professional of the Year has been a complete honor. To be considered for this award alone is such a huge honor. The last year has been amazing, being able to have the support of Gaylor Electric and ABC to influence and speak with people all across America has allowed me to create memories I will never forget. Also having the support of my family as they have become to better understand the value of this major accomplishment and award has been so amazing to watch. Personally I would like to thank Gaylor Electric and the executive team for their belief in my abilities, ABC and their continued partnership and believing in the trades, as well as VU and their support of continued education.
Please describe your role as Senior General Superintendent at Indianapolis-based Gaylor Electric.
My involvement within ABC after my apprenticeship was that I have taught Electrical, Electronics Systems Technician classes. I have gone through the “Emerging Leaders” Program and from the ABC National Craft Professional of the Year award, it has allowed me to travel to multiple ABC facilities to speak with current apprentices as well as young professionals in the industry. In my current role, I am tasked with working across the country on multiple projects as well as involvement with multiple offices within Gaylor Electric.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I chose an apprenticeship because I had tried college three different times. When I was in high school I was basically told that if I didn’t go to college I wouldn’t amount to anything. After I dropped out of college, I went to work for a landscape company that I had worked for in high school. Later, I received an offer to work for a brick paving company in Indianapolis. After working there for six months, I fell sick and did not have any insurance. I couldn’t afford the doctor's bills that started to add up for a simple case of pneumonia. At that point, I realized I needed to find a career not just a job. My dad recommended that I look into Gaylor because of their reputation. I applied and six months later I was hired. At that point, Gaylor enrolled me in the ABC apprenticeship and I haven’t looked back.
What impact has the ABC apprenticeship had on your life?
The ABC apprenticeship impacted me significantly. It gave me the foundation and the necessary knowledge to be able to become a great electrician. Also during that time, there was some leadership training available and it allowed me to maximize my leadership. Being part of the merit shop was a very important decision for me. I believe that if you stand out you should be rewarded appropriately. Honestly, the apprenticeship gave me the push I needed to be a better employee as well as just a better human. It gave me the skill sets as well as the confidence that I did belong somewhere. I struggled to feel like I belonged doing odd jobs. It really took a company like Gaylor and having place like ABC to provide the skills was a big deal for myself.
Have you gained career advancement or higher pay or more paid time off?
I absolutely have gained career advancement all the way around from promotions to a higher salary working for a company like Gaylor that understands the value of their people. I have held every field position that Gaylor Electric has to offer from Helper, Apprentice, Journeyperson, Crew Leader, Lead Person, General Superintendent, and Senior General Superintendent. I have been with Gaylor for 17 years all of that has had ABC involvement. That also gave me the opportunity to have 4 weeks of PTO while including merit increases every single year.
What advice would you give someone who is considering joining an apprenticeship program?
Just try it out. If you find a company that is willing to support you and you get involved with a place like ABC. The support from the education as well as the support within fighting for the merit shop will make you understand the importance of making you feel valued and cared about.
Explore VU’s website at www.vinu.edu for more information about apprenticeship programs or contact the VU Admissions Office.
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