Join the ABC Keystone Chapter in celebrating apprenticeship and the many career paths and opportunities available in the construction industry! During the week of November 8-14, 2020, we will be highlighting our former apprentices and their career journeys from apprenticeship to leadership. Check back daily for updates and visit our social media channels for daily postings!
Meet Nick Miller!
James Craft & Son. Inc.
Trade: Sheet Metal
Celebrating 26 Years in the Construction Industry!
ABC Keystone Sheet Metal Graduate
After graduation in 1997, I worked for a small general contractor in the Bel Aire, Maryland area for about two years. I found something closer to home in 2000, working as a carpenter framing homes in the York area. From there, I worked up from a laborer to a lead carpenter and foreman in six years.
My next promotion was to a superintendent/project manager for four years. When the economy and the housing market crashed in 2008-2009, I got laid off. At the end of 2009, I could not find any job opportunities. I had a local general contractor tell me I was over qualified for an entry level carpenter and wouldn’t be compensated for my worth in that position, but I was underqualified for a management position. This was because I didn’t have any degrees, certifications, or certificates. At that time, the construction job market was flooded with men and women who had work experience only.
After that conversation, I decided to change my approach and came across a newspaper classified advertisement that stated James Craft and Son, Inc. was looking for apprentices for plumbing and sheet metal. I knew something about plumbing but hardly anything about sheet metal, especially not commercial and industrial work. I was 31 years old with three children under the age of 10, and I didn’t want to do a 180 degree turn in my career path.
I rolled the dice, and it paid off big time. James Craft & Son, Inc. informed me I was hired, and two months later, I began as a sheet metal apprentice. My goal was to get that Labor and Industry Journeyperson’s card with the certificate that I could always present to potential employers.
Those four years flew by faster than I thought they would. In 2015, I was a fourth-year apprentice graduating and going to the ABC National Craft Competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were I placed third. Looking back, I accepted the sheet metal apprenticeship partly because back in 1998, a friend’s dad gave me an opportunity to go to another company to do sheet metal work. But, I said “I’m a carpenter, why would I do that?!” I believe on that day, in 1998, God opened a door to me that I didn’t enter. I was young and unsure of the future. God reopened that door twelve years later, and I walked through to find I’d made one of the best decisions of my life.
I would tell future apprentices that just because you have your mind set on what you want to be, don’t forget to be open to expanding your knowledge. Anyone can build something, but, become a Journeyman Mechanic and a Craftsman, and you will be able to build anything. The aspect I enjoy the most about my career is driving past projects, with family and friends, and saying I was part of building that.
Meet Jim Miller!
The Farfield Company
Celebrating 52 Years in the Construction Industry!
ABC Keystone Electrical Graduate
I have always enjoyed working with tools, and I had a curiosity about electricity as well as most things mechanical. I suppose the first real interest in wiring was as a kid, wanting to know how 3-way switches worked. Following graduation at Donegal High School in 1967, and then a year of working in a foundry and on a road construction crew, I became employed by Schilling Electric in Manheim. While there, I completed the ABC Electrical Apprenticeship. Then in 1973, I came on board with my current employer, The Farfield Company (Jaden Electric Division at that time). I also took some electrical theory classes, CADD drawing, and management courses at HACC local PSU campuses.
In the early years at Farfield, it was considered a rite of passage to be an instructor for the ABC Apprenticeship Program. That experience was as much a benefit to me as it was to the students. I’d believe I served as an instructor for about a dozen years. I’ve helped with different activities at ABC, and I’ve served on the Apprenticeship committee.
After a year at Farfield, I became a Foreman for an area of a school project in Shillington, PA. Then in 1975, I was moved from that project to become the Superintendent on the new Cocalico High School. From there, I went on to run the electrical contracts on the Lancaster County Courthouse, a couple hospitals, and office buildings.
In 1991, we landed a large mechanical contract for the State Correctional facility in Mahanoy, PA. By that time, I’d been involved in some of our HVAC projects, and I was chosen as the superintendent. Following that, I became a Project Manager, and for the next 10 or so years, I spent more time involved with HVAC projects than I did electrical. For several years, starting around 2000, I enjoyed doing work that didn’t exactly fit into our normal playlist. That included projects such as electrical and HVAC for a cath lab, general construction for an endoscopy suite for hospitals, piping and construction for pharmaceutical firms, fabricating tooling for an investment casting foundry, and doing an evaluation of the integrity of a few miles of underground steam lines.
In 2008, the position of Facilities Manager opened, and I was happy to accept it. This involves managing the fab and tool shops and maintenance for our company. I also purchase and rent equipment used on our projects. After traveling as much as two hours each way to various jobsites over the years, it’s nice to work within ½ hour of home.
I would tell anyone looking at an apprenticeship program, that there will always be a need for people who can work with their hand, and there will always be many opportunities for advancement for anyone willing to work for it. Be flexible – venturing into unfamiliar territory can be very rewarding.
Working in the trades provides the opportunity to keep learning, learning that is not only about those things directly related to the chosen field. With the life experiences gained by working in the construction industry, I am also more able to contribute while serving on our local sewer authority and with the trustees at our church.
Meet Craig Hartz!
Field Operations Manager, Warfel Construction Company
Celebrating 19 Years in the Construction Industry!
ABC Keystone Carpentry Graduate – 2005
I worked with my dad around the house when I was growing up. I saw how well my uncle did for himself in the carpentry trade, so I knew that was the route for me. I started with Warfel Construction Company in August of 2001 as a Laborer. In 2002, I joined the Apprenticeship program for Carpentry, and I completed that program in 2005 as a Journeyman Carpenter.
For many years, I did Warfel’s project lay-out before I became a Foreman in 2010. I worked under multiple Superintendents during my time as a Foreman, and I also ran smaller projects on my own. In 2015, I became a Superintendent and completed a variety of different projects in many geographical areas. In 2018, I was promoted into my current position as Field Operations Manager. In this role I take care of the day-to-day field operations, hiring, resource planning, etc.
There will always be a need for people to build buildings and to be onsite to make sure that work is being done correctly. I feel people should take a good look at the Apprenticeship program for the work that you have the opportunity to do and also the type of pay you can earn. It will cost you a lot less to go through the Apprenticeship than it will cost to go to college, and you will take classes specific to your trade. With Apprenticeship, both you and your employer benefit from the program because of the knowledge and the skills you will gain.
It is very rewarding to see the end product of any job. It is one of the best feelings to know that all the hard work, time, different types of material, schedules and the team were combined to accomplish one common end goal!
Meet Greg Bishop!
General Superintendent, Arthur Funk and Sons Inc., Construction Services
Trade: Carpenter/General Contractor
Celebrating 35 Years in the Construction Industry!
ABC Keystone Carpentry Graduate – 1989
I have always enjoyed working with my hands and being outside. I started as an apprentice/laborer and have moved through most all positions in construction. Now, I am an advocate for all our job foremen, and I mentor and train the employees. I work with the co-op and apprentice employees and recruit new employees. I am also on the advisory board at Lebanon CTC.
If you love variety and a career that is never the same two days in a row, consider entering the construction industry. It is ever-changing. The types of projects, the materials you work with, and the people you meet change every day. Each construction job is unique—from the needs of those who will work and live inside to those who will visit or shop at the location. Construction has taught me so much about prioritizing tasks and using my time wisely.
My favorite aspect about my career has been all the different projects I’ve worked on. We build medical and senior living facilities and churches. Churches are my favorite projects. Each church is unique. Best of all, we invite the congregations to become involved with the projects. and I get to meet so many people and work with many personalities!
Special thank you to our Apprenticeship Trust Staff, our Apprenticeship & Training Trustees, and our Apprenticeship & Craft Training Committee, including Chair, Bill Lastinger, Benchmark Construction Company, Inc.
View Bill Lastinger’s full member spotlight here and discover his apprenticeship to leadership story.