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HYDRONICS Making an art of work BY JOHN BARBA CONTRIBUTING WRITER I 72


love documentaries. Sit me down in front of The History Channel and I won’t bother you


for hours. Make it a documentary about the “family business” and you get true inspiration. A young fellow named Richard


Yeagley has produced an amazing film called “The Tradesmen, Making an Art of Work.” It’s a 53-minute glimpse into the hopes, dreams, struggles, pride and humanity of


plumbers, carpenters, stonemasons and painters. Managers at Cranston, RI-based Taco, Inc. were so


impressed with soon-to-be-classic film by Yeagley that they shared the film with others at Johnson & Wales University on the evening of October 5. Taco invited a capacity gathering of 160 tradespeople


and professionals to view the film. An all-star panel of experts featured Yeagley, contractor and Phc News columnist Dan Foley, Dan Holohan and Taco owner and president John White, Jr. Some observations:


know in the field. “I started as a helper after graduating from Virginia Tech


with an engineering degree. I thought I knew it all, but found very, very quickly I didn’t know anything.” The film did a wonderful job of emphasizing the skill


and intelligence required to do our jobs and in recognizing the importance of the work. But some guests felt the film missed one important mark. “I wish it had shown the upside of the business,” said


Maine contractor Jim Godbout. “You can make a great living in the trades. I wish that had been shown more.” John Perry of Advanced Comfort Systems in Rhode


Island said the fact that only three guests were under 30 was a bit of a shock. “That was a real eye-opener,” said John. ”Pretty soon


there’s going to be no one to do the work, but the work is still going to be there and will need to be done.” And if you were there and looking around, you would


have seen the entire audience nodding their heads knowingly when Baltimore plumber Chris Jensen, one of the tradesmen featured in the film, put a voice on what many have long felt. “Many of the lawyer types and people like that,” says Jensen, “they kinda' look down on us. But I just have to laugh because they have no idea who I am.” Another attendee commented: “I


Taco hosted a viewing for Richard Yeagley’s documentary, “The Tradesman, Making an Art of Work.” Pictured from left to right: John Barba, contractor training manager, Taco; John White, Jr., Taco owner & president; and Dan Foley, president and owner of Foley Mechanical Inc.


After seeing the film, there were several comments


about the value of promoting the trades to young people. A couple of trade school instructors said they’ve actually been discouraged from recruiting by high school guidance counselors. “Everyone’s telling these kids they have to go to college


when they may do better getting into the trades,” said one guest. “My guess is guidance counselors and school administrators are paid more and get better jobs if they have a track record of sending lots of kids to college. Sending kids into the trades doesn’t pretty-up their resumes.” Dan Foley said while his college education has served him well, it didn’t prepare him for what he needed to


share the opinion that younger people need to be exposed to this; after all – they’ll play the critical role in shaping the future of our country. I’ll even take it a step further to say that, over the past several decades, the higher ed community has misled America. What value do they add when, after a $60,000 or $80,000 or $150,000 degree, their grads are looking for work, getting minimum wage to pay student loans . . . or especially when the loans go into default?” Add the erosion of manufacturing


in this country and you have the makings of a perfect storm for our highly skilled but badly beaten, blue


collar core. Americans — especially our younger people — need to acquire an entirely new appreciation for the trades. Our high school guidance counselors need to be on board with this. As a single group, they’re as involved in the overall problem as any. “The screening was more than I could have hoped for,”


said Yeagley. “The conversations I had with individuals after the event and during my tour of Taco the next day were thought provoking and candid,” he said. “There seemed to be such a diversity of life experience and opinion from the audience members. As a filmmaker, it really makes you feel like you accomplished something


e Turn to BARBA on p 74


phc december 2011 www.phcnews.com


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