Recently I was fortunate to be invited by USG to attend a three-day training class to learn none other than the skill of hanging drywall.
The program, modeled after one USG conducts for distributors and suppliers, brought in vocational instructors from around the country involved in an organization called SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA serves trade instructors and students in a variety of venues, with the goal of elevating the profile and respectability of trade vocations.
"The idea behind this program is to create opportunities for teachers to continue their education and to provide them with the skills and curriculum they need to make an impact on the quality of America's next generation of builders and carpenters," said Rick Reese, USG's manager of training and education, and opening speaker at the event.
It's not that the teachers in this class didn't know what they were doing. But as evidenced by USG's Product Marketing Manager Dean Updegrove's lengthy and worthwhile explanation of the company's different products and their applications, drywall and everything that goes with it change all the time.
"By the time you think you know it, somebody throws something new at you," said Mark Cates, a teacher from Oklahoma City.
The class also sends the instructors into the field armed with the knowledge direct from the source.
"Students always know a better way," said Paul Leslie, of Sandusky, Ohio. "I stress the importance of doing it right the first time."
Rob Gross, specialty product representative, demonstrated to us just what that right way was, and then we split into teams to try it ourselves. The object of the exercise was to hang the drywall in an expert fashion. But my teammates, Jack, John, John and Jeff, got to practice something even more applicable to their jobs: instructing the novice.
Yes, I got, "Hey, Sarah, you're slowing us down!" and "You're making a mess!" Not to mention, "More mud!" and "Not so much mud!" A couple of times I thought I was going to get pinned between two studs and buried under a sheet of drywall. These guys didn't mess around.
My teammates also showed great patience, good humor and a desire to share what they knew. The experience was so enjoyable, I wish I could have stayed all three days to mud and sand our new wall, but after a day I was headed back to the office.
The only thing that had me a little disappointed was that I made more of a mess on the wall than I made on myself. I was looking forward to getting a little more dust in my hair and mud on my cheek.
I did drop a big glob of mud on my boot, and, despite chides from my teammates to clean it off, I left it there. It was my badge of honor, and what drywaller, new or experienced, doesn't need one of those now and then?
On a different note, it is with much sadness and a great deal of pride that I announce Nick Moretti is leaving the staff of Walls & Ceilings. In the last two years we've spent running this ship together, Nick has held been an excellent navigator, talented mechanic and treasured first mate. Nick moves on to be editor of another BNP magazine, Pollution Engineering, and John Wyatt moves into Nick's former spot as managing editor. Best of luck, Nicky!