2014 Building & Property Trades Technician Graduate
Maintenance Technician at the Landings Real Estate Group
Even while in high school, I helped out on construction projects.
After high school, I worked in commercial construction. I’d ask the electrical or plumbing foremen if they needed an extra hand so that I could learn from them.
I had to leave the company I was working for when they went Union.
For six years after that, I worked as a Crew Leader building stairs, doing finish work and framing. Then for a brief period, I did finish carpentry and cabinet making for another company, until their workload slowed down.
For three years, I worked at Home Depot.
Instead of doing hard physical labor, I talked to customers, made orders and stocked shelves. It was easy work, and honed my customer service skills—but it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term.
Finally I worked as a Wood Truss Assembler and Crew Leader, building frameworks for roofs.
I even ran a department. There was nothing I couldn’t do there. Although the shop supervisor valued that I ‘knew my stuff’, after three years I was still only making a minimum wage.
I had lots of construction skills and experience—but I needed proof that I knew what I was doing.
The proof would be a Certificate from a career and technical school. I also wanted to gain more knowledge and experience to work as a Maintenance Technician.
Someone I had worked with told me about MTTI.
He was an MTTI Auto Tech graduate. Knowing my background, he told me that the Building Trades program covered plumbing, electrical, carpentry and HVAC—he said, ‘It is all you.’
I visited MTTI just as a class was about to start.
I filled out the application, had my interview with the Instructor, Pat, and started school.
Pat is a great Instructor—and a great man.
He’s also a great confidence builder. Many repairs require you think outside the box; Pat challenged me to increase my critical thinking skills. Out of all the people I have worked with, he remains a mentor to me.
The whole program was fun.
Pat picked crew leaders—who then picked their crew for different phases of building the house module. I was the crew leader for electrical, drywall and painting; I enjoyed working with a great crew of mostly younger, less experienced students.
I learned a lot from the other students in my class.
I’d look at something someone was working on and ask, “How did you do that?”
As I was getting ready to intern, I applied online to the Landings Real Estate Group.
One day, I left school, and drove to the Landings, with my application and resume in hand. The Supervisor hadn’t yet looked at my online application.
Several weeks went by; I returned to the Landings.
The Supervisor told me. “I need someone with electrical background.” I explained that my father was an electrician and had passed some of his knowledge and skills to me.
He responded, ‘I need someone who is good with plumbing.’
I told him my grandfather had been a Master Plumber, who had done the refits on all of the mansions in Newport during the 50’s. My grandfather taught my father, who then taught me.
The Supervisor said, ‘We’re doing a lot of drywall right now.’
I replied that I had hung miles of drywall. And of course I had refined all of these skills during my training at MTTI.
Not convinced, the Supervisor said, ‘I need someone reliable during the winter’.
I pointed to my truck with the big tires, and told him, “I’ll be here in the wintertime.” He asked, “But can you plow?” I told him, “Yes, I can.”
I hadn’t convinced him; he still wouldn’t hire me.
I went home, and saw that the Landings was advertising the same position on craigslist. I applied again—and also applied to other companies.
A Temp agency in Cranston saw my resume online and contacted me.
They asked me to come in for an interview. They had a position that looked like a good fit for me.
After the interview, the person I had met with handed me a piece of paper.
On the paper was an address. He asked, ‘When can you start?’
I looked at the paper; it was the position at the Landings where they wouldn’t hire me.
I said, ‘This is awesome’. I told him about my interview with the Supervisor.
A couple of days after I began working as a Temp, the Supervisor came by.
I asked him if he remembered me; he said he remembered my name. I laughed and said, ‘Right—the guy you didn’t want to hire.’
The Supervisor shook my hand, and said, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’
I showed him what I was working on—a full renovation of an apartment–kitchen countertop, cabinets, appliances, plumbing, and a bathroom—new toilet, vanity and linoleum, medicine cabinets and vanity lights.
Two weeks later, the Supervisor called me into his office.
The Landings bought out my temporary contract and hired me permanently.
I chose to be a Maintenance Tech because I didn’t want to do the same thing every day.
I haven’t done that yet! There is never a dull moment.
Instead of dreading going to work, I look forward to the people there and what I am doing.
I love the Landings—the people I work with treat me like family. Some of the residents have lived there since the eighties; they appreciate my customer relations skills.
When I complete a remodeling job, I look around and say with pride, ‘I did this’.
I feel a sense of accomplishment –especially when a resident who knew how the apartment looked before the renovation says, ‘Wow’.
While I was in school, my son saw me doing homework.
He knew that there had to be a good reason for me to do homework—I told him it was because the program’s fun! I showed my son how to wire a light the same way Pat showed me—and how to do some plumbing, the same way Pat taught me.
This past summer, while recovering from an injury, my son worked under my supervision.
With my guidance, he maintained the pool at the Landings. Every morning he’d get the pool up and running and then go to work with the other maintenance guys.
While working with me, my son got the ‘bug’.
He enrolled in the Building & Property Trades program at MTTI. He started classes this September.
The pay and benefits as a Maintenance Tech are great; I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck.
I am able to more than just pay my bills. On the third anniversary of my job at the Landings, I bought a new GMC truck.
I recently visited my former instructor, Pat.
Pat asked me, ‘Can you believe that you went from minimum wage to making the salary you get now!’ I do believe it because, in addition to loving what I do and where I work—I am making a very comfortable living.