Sheet Metal Shop Foreman
M. Nelson Barnes & Sons, Inc
Q: How did you get started in the industry?
I was always the kid that worked around the house with my father and grandfather whenever anything was being remodeled or fixed. When I was in high school I decided to work in one of the construction trades and my high school guidance counselor gave me Information about ABC Baltimore. A few months later, I was working as a sheet metal apprentice. I have now been working in the trade for 47 years.
I started out as a sheet metal instructor in 1996 and continued until 2004 when I left to be able to spend more time with my grandson. By 2015 my grandson was grown and I returned to being an instructor. So my total time as an instructor is 13 years.
Q: Why do you volunteer as an instructor for ABC Greater Baltimore?
I enjoy giving my time and knowledge to apprentices. I feel I owe it my instructors and the craftsmen who taught me over the years. I also enjoy spending time with apprentices who are eager to learn. A few years ago, an apprentice in my class informed me that I had also been an instructor to his father.
The most rewarding part of training the next generation is when I am teaching something, and I am able to see that the apprentice can now solve problems on their own. Craftsmen are constantly solving problems.
Q: What’s your best advice for students and those who want to succeed in the construction industry?
My best advice for apprentices who want to succeed is to start your day with a smile and to strive for excellence every day. Also, it’s important to know what you don’t know.
The smile will give you a good attitude to conquer all the bad things you may encounter that day. The first thing you do should be perfect. Then do everything else the same way. If you know what you don’t know, you can admit it to yourself and then find someone who has that knowledge and learn from them. Be a craftsman because it is the right thing to do. The rewards for being a craftsman will come later.