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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone,

Here is a bit about me and my start. What I am looking for is insight, advice, or suggestions. If I am going about this all wrong, I am open to CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

I am 35 and starting this as my new professional career. I have been in sales my entire adult life. I have always loved carpentry & woodworking. After having my own retail store for 4 years I had to move on in my career path to support my family.

I have been doing "side work" on & off for about 2 years now. I started out in September this year working full time in Carpentry for a builder who needed help. Being the way the economy is, he hired me on as long as I would carry my own insurance & work from 1099 status. I was fine with that, understanding how things are going. The only other guy on the crew, a journeyman carpenter who has worked for most of the major builders in our area was working the same way.

Anyway we got all of his work completed, and had to find work elsewhere. I have now worked for 3 different GCs in 4 months. I could be called back to any of then tomorrow.

What I am wondering is, am I going about this the right way given the economy and local pace of construction (I am in East Central WI)? Several of the "ads" I have replied to have told me I don't have the right experience/background, as most of my professional experience is in Sales. I am a self taught carpenter, I have worked on several projects for family/friends. I am and have been for years reading carpentry books, mags, and followed the trade as an outsider.

Any insight, advice, and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 

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You need to honestly evaluate yourself as to your carpentry skill level.

What can you do on a professional level?

Make a portfolio of the jobs you have completed.

Two years, self taught & it does not sound like you have done any production work, seems more like you are a semi skilled laborer than anything that involves a carpenter's title.
 

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I would get on with a large GC as an employee. One that typically does large multi-family and commercial. These type of outfits typically do things more ethically and play by the rules. S
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Griz,

I have been doing a lot of rough framing for the GCs I have worked for. I like your suggestion of making a portfolio. I will look into that. I know that I have LONG way to go to become a carpenter, just wondering what else I could be doing to get there.


thesidingpro,

Thanks for the advice, but I am having trouble as they all seem to want someone with "actual" or verifiable experience...
 

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You're in a tricky spot starting out at your age in my opinion. Self-taught is a far cry from working under a few "master carpenters".

If your financial situation can handle it I'd look into pursuing a more employee type position working for a small custom home builder or similar with a very experienced lead willing to teach you.

I know that I have LONG way to go to become a carpenter, just wondering what else I could be doing to get there.
You want to be a good carpenter before subbing
 

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What I am wondering is, am I going about this the right way given the economy and local pace of construction (I am in East Central WI)? Several of the "ads" I have replied to have told me I don't have the right experience/background, as most of my professional experience is in Sales. I am a self taught carpenter, I have worked on several projects for family/friends. I am and have been for years reading carpentry books, mags, and followed the trade as an outsider.

Any insight, advice, and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
East central WI east of Winnebago and west of the city that goes to sleep at 9pm - Sheboygan. That area is challenged on many levels.

You want to be a carpenter get a job full time framing for at least a year. Sell yourself on desire and passion, get references from your builders been working for, the carpenter you worked with. At 35 and been in sales/business owner the real question, to me is "can you handle the physical aspects" of the job. LOL Seen Farm Boys with limited experience excel at framing/carpentry but never saw a business-salesman, with your experience level, be worth a crap. Have hired a few over the years. Sorry to be blunt but that's exactly what your up against and only you can effect the outcome to those questions.

Might consider expanding to: a crew/business that does production homes in SE WI, companies on the far north or west side. Hartford, West Bend, Richfield...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all of the insight and comments.

I have learned a lot in the few months I have "been on the job".

The did learn a lot from the from the lead carpenter (a master carpenter) with the first GC. I have been fortunate that he is has asked me to work on a handful of side jobs with him. He has been an inspiration and wealth of knowledge.

Texas, it sounds like you know the area well. Yes my resume does look like a paper pushers. But I know myself, my work ethic, and I think I can hack it. Maybe not, but I'm a country boy and have had to learn along the way my whole life. Thanks for the honesty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all of the comments & info. As professionals, and I know some of you run your own business. Any advice for an outsider with a semi skilled background, enthusiasm, my own tools, reliable transportation, and my own insurance... Advice on landing a gig with a builder/GC when most all of them at least say they are looking for someone with experience?

What I am looking for is advice on turning the conversation from "we were really looking for someone with more carpentry experience" in my favor without sounding arrogant or like just another hack with a hammer.
 

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What I am looking for is advice on turning the conversation from "we were really looking for someone with more carpentry experience" in my favor without sounding arrogant or like just another hack with a hammer.
"Here's my portfolio and long list of references"... Would be the best response in my opinion, let them make their decision from that.
 

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As crazy as that sounds I have a buddy who did that at a huge flooring store here. Just showed up dressed for the part and started selling floors to people who walked in. He sold a huge hardwood floor job and had to go into the office to get paper work. The owner was so shocked he didn't know what to do. Not sure how the rest played out but he runs that branch now a few years later..
 

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I started in sales for two different fortune 500 companies. When the last one left town, I decided I was going into the business.
It worked in the 80's. Left when a large company stiffed me for 300k.
Went to work for a buddy that was production framing. Worked for him for 16 years, every time I was going to quit and open up a business again he increased my pay.

Long story short, I had a bad car wreck and can no longer work as a framer. During my life I have owned many houses and decided to open handyman business.


The moral is if you want it bad enough, go for it. I would not continue as a 1099employee as that is avtually illegal according to the IRS.

Good luck!
 

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cowboysdad said:
Hello Everyone, Here is a bit about me and my start. What I am looking for is insight, advice, or suggestions. If I am going about this all wrong, I am open to CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. I am 35 and starting this as my new professional career. I have been in sales my entire adult life. I have always loved carpentry & woodworking. After having my own retail store for 4 years I had to move on in my career path to support my family. I have been doing "side work" on & off for about 2 years now. I started out in September this year working full time in Carpentry for a builder who needed help. Being the way the economy is, he hired me on as long as I would carry my own insurance & work from 1099 status. I was fine with that, understanding how things are going. The only other guy on the crew, a journeyman carpenter who has worked for most of the major builders in our area was working the same way. Anyway we got all of his work completed, and had to find work elsewhere. I have now worked for 3 different GCs in 4 months. I could be called back to any of then tomorrow. What I am wondering is, am I going about this the right way given the economy and local pace of construction (I am in East Central WI)? Several of the "ads" I have replied to have told me I don't have the right experience/background, as most of my professional experience is in Sales. I am a self taught carpenter, I have worked on several projects for family/friends. I am and have been for years reading carpentry books, mags, and followed the trade as an outsider. Any insight, advice, and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Are you in a position to get your GC license? If that is obtainable, you should go for it. You aren't getting any younger. I don't know what the requirements are in your state, but look into it. Once that's accomplished, start taking on small jobs that you feel comfortable with and work them. If you are diligent, honest and hardworking, your business will grow. There's not an old timer out there that doesn't learn new things. Whatever you can't take on yourself, pass it on to a GC that can, with a fee, and consider it a sale. You've got all your abilities covered. Good Luck.
 

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Texas, it sounds like you know the area well. Yes my resume does look like a paper pushers. But I know myself, my work ethic, and I think I can hack it. Maybe not, but I'm a country boy and have had to learn along the way my whole life. Thanks for the honesty.
NO, that's not correct, you KNOW YOU CAN.
"no try only do" Yoda


Here's the skinny, imho.... Be willing to start low or even work a day for free to prove yourself. If you can express your passion about carpentry, show you can learn, you WILL work hard .... those two offers will close a deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for all the advice everyone. Started on Thursday with a production framing crew, temp to hire if I can make it.

Things are picking up, but the temps are not. Started the last 2 days with temps below zero warming to about 10 above. Not the best weather I've worked in... BUT I have my foot in the door and I am not going to take out!
 
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