Why I Work in Construction: Karl Ringsdorf

Karl Ringsdorf
Electrical Service Manager
Calvert Mechanical Solutions, Towson, Maryland

Karl Ringsdorf is one of several nominees for ABC’s National Instructor of the Year for 2020. He teaches ABC Greater Baltimore’s electrical construction course.

“He has really gone above and beyond for us. He truly has a passion for giving back to his trade and understand how important it is, for the sustainability of the electrical trade, to teach the next generation,” says Chris Hadfield, director of education for ABC Greater Baltimore.

How did you get started in construction trades? 

I was working a dead-end job at an Armored Car Company, when a longtime friend that I grew up with, Wayne Gerbes introduced me to the trades. He had been working in the electrical trade for about three years and was promoted to a mechanic/technician. He asked if I would be interested in becoming his helper. I never once thought I’d work in the electrical construction industry, so I told him I’d have to think about it for a few days.

Six months after accepting the position I told Wayne I couldn’t continue doing this. It was boring, lacked any challenge, and didn’t bring me any satisfaction. Wayne asked me to give it another six months. He said he’d train me. If I felt the same way after training, then he’d understand.

Over the next six months, Wayne threw everything at me. I finally felt challenged and engaged. I fell into the field, but I was lucky to have someone believe in me and help me grow in an industry I have grown to love.

What do you like most about your job? 

That answer has changed many times over the years. In the beginning, I never wanted to work in an office, I never wanted to have the same view from the same window. At Calvert Mechanical Solutions, I now oversee the electrical department. We specialize in electrical maintenance.

I wear a great many hats in a day, ranging from the site visit to completion of the project and all aspects in between. There’s never a dull moment and it keeps me busy.  I am still able to interact with the employees in the field and to mentor them. I still strive to learn new things and to pass my knowledge and experience to our field employees. Teaching at ABC also gives me the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to future generation of electricians.

How has a career in construction impacted your life? 

It has provided me and my family with a comfortable life. I have a little saying, “If you chase the almighty dollar looking to be happy, you will never be happy.” I’ve never had to chase the money. My career in construction has been fulfilling both financially and rewarding to me on many other levels.

What advice do you have for others hoping to get into the construction trades?

Find a trade you love and learn every aspect of it. Continue to learn and apply yourself.  Our industry is ever evolving, so it’s crucial to always make strides to keep up with those changes.  The more you know, the more you are worth to an employer and the more self-worth you own. Be honest, keep your integrity and your morals.