I still remember going to college in the 1990s and whiling away my time on general education classes, not really sure what kind of career I wanted to aim for. More exciting to me than the classroom were the multiple jobs I had on the side. I filled my non-classroom hours doing work for a landscaping company, and more importantly, for a machine tool builder.
The latter job ended up being the beginning of my journey in the skilled trades. The work involved building automated assembly lines for the automotive industry, and I found the work challenging, engaging, and fulfilling. I began thinking that a job in the machine trades or some adjacent pathway might not be a bad fit for me.
Before long, my classroom time was reflecting the work I was doing outside of school. I was taking apprenticeship classes and other courses that I thought could move me a step further in the trades. Somehow, I caught the eye of the Midland-based Hovey Electric. Hovey offered me a job in 2001, I took it, and the rest was history. I stayed there until 2014 when Windemuller bought the business, and I’ve been a part of the Windemuller team ever since.
One of the things that kept me at Hovey Electric all those years was the small, tight-knit feel of the business. Hovey was a family-owned company, and it really felt like it. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we were able to function as a terrific team as a result. Moving over to Windemuller was nerve-racking because I didn’t know what it would be like to work as part of a much larger business after so long with that small team mentality.
I needn’t have worried. While there was a learning curve to navigating the protocols and ways of doing things at Windemuller, it was clear very quickly that this company valued the same familial culture that Hovey had. The only real difference is that, now, I just get to be close with a lot more coworkers! Not only do I feel a kinship with my colleagues at the Midland office where I work, but I also have strong bonds with the rest of our team as well – from the Grand Rapids office all the way up to Traverse City.
Perhaps my favorite benefit of being part of a bigger company, though, is that it provides me an opportunity to think about how I can help the next generation advance. I’m privileged to be involved with the Greater Michigan Construction Academy – the school I attended for my apprenticeship. I am passionate about opening doors and sharing my experiences for the next person in line, and I’ve found those opportunities at Windemuller, too. Who’s the next journeyman, the next crew lead, the next foreman? Who wants to take my job someday? I’m well into the second half of my career, so it’s exciting to see the people who are still in their first half and are looking at moving on up. I want to help them in any way I can, just like people helped me. Windemuller is a great place to do that.