Before I joined Kondex, I had been a carpenter my whole life – nearly a quarter century. I built homes, apartments, and commercial buildings, and for 12 years I had my own carpentry business. However, over time, the job started to wear on me, as did the cold winter months and hot summers.
So I decided I wanted a change, I wanted to try something new. That’s when I went to a temporary hiring service to find something different. What I found next ended up becoming the next stage of my career. What came next was a position at Kondex in 2012 doing facility maintenance. This got my foot in the door, and for nearly a year I continued before becoming a full-time Kondex associate in 2013.
I then worked on a manufacturing production line for 18 months before being promoted to a technical services job doing preventive maintenance. I enjoyed working for Kondex so much, and wanted to continue to grow my career, so I fixed my eyes on becoming a maintenance mechanic.
This sent me back to school to complete my apprenticeship to become a maintenance mechanic. This particular apprenticeship program was outside those being offered at Kondex, leaving me unsure about how Kondex would respond, whether it would work out in the end. I was past the typical age a student would complete the apprenticeship and I wasn’t sure if the company would agree to the investment. It turns out, Kondex enthusiastically supported me, which resulted in me becoming the first Kondex participant in a maintenance mechanic apprenticeship program.
I started a four-year program in my 40’s to become a maintenance mechanic, which included one day of in-class work every other week. I then switched to a maintenance technician apprenticeship to include electrical repair, which added one day in the classroom every week for one year. To complete the program, I have to accrue a total of 10,000 combined hours of classroom and on-the-job training! Now, I’m in my fourth semester (which is my second year), taking classes at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin.
When asked why I wanted to pursue the apprenticeship, I tell folks I wanted a career versus a job and saw this as a huge opportunity. Having strong math skills and an interest in working with my hands and fixing things, this was a good fit. Being detail-oriented also helps. I’ve always been considered a helpful person, and feel a sense of accomplishment in fixing a machine and seeing it’s working right. Company operations depend on equipment working properly, and it’s rewarding to be part of that.
If there’s anything my story can tell others looking to switch careers into equipment manufacturing, or if they’re unsure about needing to invest in obtaining the skills required to make the change, then I think they should see what I did and realize it’s possible.