Walls & Ceilingsvisited USG's research facility in August to attend the company's partnership program with Skills USA

For its second year as an operating service to regional teachers throughout the United States, USG Corp. and SkillsUSA have collaborated on the program “Train-The-Trainer.” Flying in building instructors for high school students from as far Texas and Alaska, more than 20 persons were taught correct methods of application for USG products. The programs, which lasted the span of four days, were an introduction to the Sheetrock, Durock and Fiberock brand lines. The program divided its time between classroom sessions and hands-on training.

Curator of the event, Rick Reese, manager of sales training/program development with USG, began the program with an overview of the company, its product line, mission and markets.

“USG partnered with SkillsUSA, and provided the Train-the-Trainer program for the teachers, to address the skilled labor shortage in the drywall construction industry,” says Reese. “We provided the participants with the most current information regarding products and application techniques that they can in turn teach to their students.”

Dean Updegrove, expert on USG’s drywall and accessory systems, introduced the science and brands of drywall methods. With an emphasis on gypsum, he explained in detail where the mineral is mined, the process of creating it into wall board, its configurations and dimensions, and the different kinds of panels, such as regular Sheetrock brands, Firecode Core and specialty panels.

From there, the class was paired in twos, armed with fasteners and ready to hang board on model wall systems. Instructed by USG employee and contractor Jeff Johnston, the class hung board horizontally with assistance from USG’s technical staff. Following drywall hanging, the class returned to begin the first coat of mudding to meet the Gypsum Association’s Level 5 finish; a method practiced and endorsed by USG’s team.

Before the application of joint compound, Mark Howenstine gave a presentation of the company’s many brands of mud. The differences, distinctions and instructions for drying- and setting-type mud, brands of corner bead and trim, and the various methods of texture achieved through the use of these products.

“In Product Management, we spend a lot of time working with research developing new products, and it is always exciting to talk about the products we bring to market, and their value to end users,” says Howenstine.

Mentioned only in footnote reference among the pages of Walls & Ceilings, USG spent much of the program educating the class about its line of floor underlayments. Durock, a substrate for both walls and floor underlayment, was briefed by Jim Ullett, who distinguished the brand from the company’s newest line of floor system with the Fiberock underlayment. Back out in the workstations, class members were taught methods of laying the systems and ways of scoring the board. Unlike drywall, the floor systems are easier to cut and fasten.

Recognizing an interest held from the class, Reese made exception and swayed from the program’s syllabus to discuss the art of plaster and what USG offers with this market. Because numerous class members were from the eastern part of the U.S. the demand for plasterwork still exists, with even new construction a facet to this plight.

Beyond the technical jargon and actual work that took place, what makes this program of interest is to hear the collective voice of teachers from around the States. During the meal times, many would express their desires, joys and anxieties about educating the next generation of builders. Many of the class were only acquainted with hanging board as their scope of work encompasses all areas of building. With education programs existing like this, it should be an encouragement to the wall and ceiling industry to have a properly trained outfit preparing the next generation with correct and proper training methods.

“On the surface, the task of teaching a seasoned group of educators and professional craftsmen was somewhat intimidating to me,” says Reese. “But it was not long into the program before I realized that we have a lot to offer them and the teachers were all willing students themselves.

“I take a great deal of personal pride in our accomplishments with the Train-the Trainer program and I am gratified by overwhelmingly positive responses from the participating teachers.” W&C


SkillsUSA is a national organization serving high school and college students—and their instructors preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations. The organization’s national skills competition, held in Kansas City this past June, featured more than 4,000 state-champion students vying for national awards in their chosen occupations.

For more information visit www.skillsusa.org/skills.html.