My day generally starts with my one year old daughter shouting or my five year old son smacking me on the head with a toy. From there I go into the office and attend to emails, source and order materials before looking at design and problem solving whilst it’s still fresh in mind, having usually thought it up in the middle of the night. This is shortly followed by a number of phone calls from clients, members of staff or subcontractors. At this point I leave the office to attend meetings, look at new and existing jobs from the point of view of pricing and quality control etc. and I occasionally get hands on when needed which is the part I love most. Then there’s the invoicing and general paperwork… the part I like least!
What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
Creative skills with an eye for detail and precision, people skills and organisational skills.
Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
I had actually left school wanting to go into motor vehicle engineering and even completed a course at Highlands College, however trying to secure an apprenticeship in a local garage proved difficult. During this time, I was working for a construction firm as a labourer/driver and was beginning to take an interest in carpentry. My boss, Rodney Waller, soon supported this by offering me an apprenticeship and enrolling me on a day release course at Highlands College. This made for an easy transition and in hindsight, I’m glad it turned out this way because I now feel far better suited to this career.
What do you love most about working in your career area?
The things I most love about my job are finding alternative, creative solutions for people’s needs in a cost- effective manner. Coming up with ideas that others haven’t and making people’s lives easier and more pleasurable within the environment they live and/or work in. I also like the satisfaction value I get from it all to include seeing my staff progress in their skill set and general quality of life.
Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
Although gradual, the transition from being a carpenter to running my own business wasn’t easy and at times, still isn’t! There’s only so much you can learn in school or on a carpentry apprenticeship, most of which won’t prepare you for managing time, money, people and their expectations, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses, all of which can only really be learnt as you go.
What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
The initial training I undertook was an advanced NVQ in carpentry at Highlands College. Since then it’s been health and safety related, or training specific to the use of new materials, tools and equipment. Whilst further courses such as a HNC Diploma in Construction were available, my business was growing at such a rate that I didn’t have the time to take them. To this day this hasn’t been an issue and I believe that sometimes there’s no better way of learning something than to learn through experience.
Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
Learning a trade and in particular carpentry, should be seriously considered when looking at a career path. Although not for everyone, it can offer a fantastic way of life, full of variety and opportunity. Whether that be from carrying out different tasks from one minute to the next, in different places and even in different countries. Given that a carpenter is often on a job from start to finish, this provides the learning required to become a contractor. It’s also a secure career because there will always be the need for carpenters.