11 In their own words
My Career Path
1. How did you get started in this job?
I was hired as a maintenance mechanic helper with a window manufacturing company. It took years and years of night school courses to eventually become a millwright. That was in the late 70s.
2. If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
It would have been easier to have gone to school full-time. You may not use the education right away, but at least you've got it under your belt.
3. What would you say to someone starting out in this career today?
Know how to handle the business side of the work. Take business administration courses. This industry has excellent opportunities because not many people still work with their hands. It's still relatively low tech, although there is a tendency toward needing to know more about computer controls.
4. Where do you see yourself going with this job in the future?
I'd like to retire in five years, and I'll sell the business. It's been really fun.
5. What are some of the main forces of change in the industry right now? How will those affect you?
In our specific region, there are fewer big companies. People are moving to light manufacturing companies that produce very specific, small products. This is a good set-up for a millwright.
A typical workday
I head out on an emergency call that came in last night. A 50 employee company is down and everyone is panicking. I diagnose the problem. It turns out to be a ruptured hose on a two-component sealant pump. I have my van full of tools and a palm pilot for sourcing. Everything is up and running by lunchtime.
I have a meeting with the owner of a company to discuss plans for custom building a piece of tooling. We revise and refine the details for an aluminum access panel. A millwright is a bit of an electrician, plumber, machinist and mechanic, all rolled into one.
It's time to return calls and draw up some quotes. Since I own the business, I also deal with bills. Sourcing is a big part of the job. I am the expert when it comes to troubleshooting and I have to find dealers, components and figure out to solve the problem.