September ’21 Elevator Constructor

Brothers and Sisters:

Over the last several months, my YouTube feed has been suggesting job-oriented videos. The themes range from how to identify a toxic work environment, bad bosses, five signs you should quit your job right now, negotiating a salary… Hmmm.

Is the cosmos trying to tell me something?

After clicking on several of these videos a common theme seemed to emerge that is appropriate for the trades — career planning.

Career planning is not something limited to the corporate world, it has a direct application to what we in the field do everyday. We all started in this trade as probationaries with a skill set brought from our previous work experience. As we progressed in the trade, we identified areas where our skills directly applied and we could be an asset to our job and also identified areas we needed assistance.

For me, I was stronger in mechanical systems where I could see the interactions of parts and the result of their work. I also knew enough about electricity to know that I did not know enough. I knew this was an area I would need to concentrate on if I was going to be successful in this business.

I tackled Basic Electricity and finally understood exactly what was going on in AC and DC motors, came to grips with inductance and capacitance, tried to stay awake through transformers and reveled in circuit tracing. I developed skills I applied to my daily work experience. Work was easier and fun.

Along the way I had opportunities to interact with guys from other companies and saw through their stories how different offices worked, or didn’t. I also saw several of my peers take the plunge into management or jobs with different aspects of field support. For someone focusing on the day-to-day tasks at hand, it was very expansive. I knew enough about myself to know that being a superintendent was not for me but, there might be other jobs I could do that would make a difference.

In November of 2006 I was going to my truck to get my phone prior to a union meeting when Mike Moennich asked if I would be interested in running for the correspondent to the Journal. Mike knew from our time working together I had a background in journalism. I agreed and was elected at the December meeting. That put my feet on the path I am today.

As a newly elected officer, it did not take long for me to realize that union meetings are a conversation and in order to understand what was going on it took many months to see how the conversation progressed. I did my best to keep the Journal readers up to date on happenings and eventually found my voice within the Local.

In 2010 the sixth issue of Lift Magazine showed up in my mailbox. I read through the issue and the back issues I had saved and thought it was interesting. They contained a lot of good information and background on a variety of subject written by people who spent at least part of their careers working in the field. On one of the pages was a box asking those interested in writing for Lift to email NEIEP and I did. A few months later I received an email and it opened up a new opportunity to apply my editorial skills to a project where I could make a positive impact on the trade. That lead to becoming an instructor and meeting some of the best people from around the country. All of them dedicated to making the trade a little bit better.

It’s strange how life puts you where you are supposed to be. I never thought that initial short conversation in the parking lot would lead me to where I am today. I don’t know where the rest of my time in the trade will take me but I just have two things to say: thank you Mike Moennich and enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.

Until next month,
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.

Don
DKnapik@windstream.net