Rick Boyle has been helping out at job sites since he was 11 years old. He remembers carrying mortar for brick layers and cleaning up after framers. Those tasks created a life-long affinity for the trades. Rick is the owner and founder of Creative Contracting, Inc. in Mason.
After beginning his career as a carpenter, his great reputation led him to start his own business in an organic manner. His initial business model encompassed residential new construction, framing and roofing and now Creative Contracting offers remodeling, room additions, general contracting and construction management services.
Rick is proud of the resiliency of Creative Contracting, which was established in 1993. As they celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, one employee remains from the company’s first year in business and multiple second-generation employees call Creative Contracting home.
The trades have experienced a labor shortage in recent years. Rick describes how the shortage has come about, “One, maybe even close to two generations have just forgone the trades and gone to college for other types of careers. They say that the average tradesman these days is approaching 50. If you get into some of the specific trades your average plumbers are closer to 60 and that's not something you just learn overnight. It takes years to become a master plumber or a certified electrician.”
A shift in the perception of the trades as more than just a fallback option is needed, and according to Rick has already begun.
Several like-minded local business owners formed Conduit to discuss ways to stimulate growth in the trades workforce. The Certified Apprentice Program (CAP) was born from these conversations. Most high schools have cut programs that offer students exposure to the trades.
CAP offers high school students an introduction to the trades through a week-long course. Two hour modules each day are spent on fundamentals of framing, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, drywall and painting.
The program is about showing kids with an interest that they have options after graduation. The benefits are many as the students learn basic skills which can be used over a lifetime. Teachers and volunteers gain from the experience as well. Rick says of his experience with the program, “It’s like watching that light bulb go off. Seeing that ‘aha’ moment and hearing the laughter and seeing the fun the kids have when they're doing the projects.”
Participating allows Rick to share his passion for the industry by teaching introductory courses and speaking at high schools on behalf of CAP. The members of Conduit have also had some success approaching high schools about adding curriculum covering careers in the trades and meet regularly to discuss ways to get the word out about the benefits of these professions.
“CAP creates a bridge between master craftsmen who invest their talents into building and fixing things and high school students who want to explore what that might look like for them,” says CAP cofounder, Jerry Beerman.
The CAP program seeks to instill a strong work ethic, a sense of pride and good habits while laying the foundation for a career with a future. Rick believes there are a number of paths to financial success and stability. He says, “Find something you enjoy doing, ignore the naysayers, show up early, pay attention and work hard. Chances are success will find you.”
Rick is proof of this. He wears his love for the industry on his sleeve. His enthusiasm for the CAP program and his desire to share his passion for his work with students is apparent.
Regarding pursuing a career in the trades, Rick shares, “What we do can really be fun.” He also urges people to remember that there are jobs beyond physical labor. Rick explains, “There are so many different pieces to what we do. Even within our small company, we've got designers, interior decorators, sales and project managers so there are a lot of different facets to a remodeling company that go beyond just physically doing it.”
CAP has the potential to change perceptions and lives. After a recent speech to Career Quest students, one attendee remarked, “I feel like I learned more in that hour than I've learned at school all year.”
To choose a trade profession, Rick advises, “My guidance would be to find something that makes you happy, find out how to make money doing it and find someone to pay you to do that job.”
“It’s like watching that light bulb go off. Seeing that ‘aha’ moment and hearing the laughter and seeing the fun the kids have when they're doing the projects.”
“CAP creates a bridge between master craftsmen who invest their talents into building and fixing things and high school students who want to explore what that might look like for them.”