It seems more and more these days that headlines and news stories sensationalize the questionable actions and comments of some of today’s youth. Broad brush strokes painted by some in the media might lead the casual observer to think there is little promise among the youth in our society and in our places of work. However, the red and cream coloured brush strokes which have helped restore and renovate the Red Antiquities Building tell a very different story and one worth celebrating.
Andrew MacDonald started with the Red Antiquities Building project in January of 2012. One of the youngest workers on the R.A.B. crew, Andrew’s work ethic and positive attitude is a shining example of what promising qualities can be found in our leaders of tomorrow.
Born in Barrie, Ontario, Andrew moved to London when he was 3 years old, enjoys music and playing basketball with friends but is very clear and concise in saying “right now my focus really is on my work. I’m learning so much and I love doing this job!” To some, Andrew’s sentiments may seem a little cliché, but spend a few moments simply observing Andrew on the job at the Red Antiquities Building and it doesn’t take long to realize that he fills his boots with honest hard-work and integrity. Site Foreman, Phil Caudle, is quick to point out, “He’s a great young worker! Some people you have to take time with and show them multiple times how to do something but not with young Andrew. He picks it up right away and does a fantastic job every time! He’s a natural!”
While Andrew will tell you he loves being “hands on” and agrees that being a “quick learner” is one of his greatest assets, Andrew also displays his affection for being a team-player by crediting co-workers like Phil Caudle for taking the time to describe the reasoning behind each technique and process that Andrew has been shown. “Guys like Phil and Jim have taught me so much when it comes to using various tools and how to do things right the first time. They tell me the reason why you do something and not just how to do it. I love learning the ‘why’ behind everything I do and that makes this job perfect for me!”
Andrew found his way to the Red Antiquities Building project by way of a co-op placement through the Pathways Skill Development Construction Technologies Training program – a nine week program allowing participants to increase their skills with a variety of tools and processes required to secure entry-level employment in the construction industry. Andrew’s demonstrated ability to quickly learn and implement new skills effectively led to Andrew being hired onto the R.A.B. project after his co-op was completed. “I did blocking for the drywall and helped the electrician pulling cable and doing simple connections. I’ve learned a lot of the little tricks of the trade that makes everything easier.” The tone in Andrew’s voice and the vibrance in his youthful expression is refreshing when he states, “It’s crazy the things I’ve been able to see and learn in such a short time!”
Already, Andrew brings experience in working with Sheet Metal, Roofing, Framing, Brick-laying and many tasks involved in home renovations but when asked what aspect of the Red Antiquities Building stands out the most in his mind Andrew answers with “The restoration of the windows have been unreal!” In fact, the restoration of the 138 year old windows of the R.A.B. have garnered a lot of attention and praise from the community surrounding the project and Andrew counts himself as extremely fortunate to play a part in the restoration having been entrusted with the painting and detailing of the wood framing. “Seeing the end product really is my motivation . . . how it looks, the look on the faces of people who see it and the great comments that they make. That’s what makes it worthwhile! That’s why I love to do the job – the end result!”
Watching Andrew interact with all members of the R.A.B. crew one can easily determine that Andrew has the ability to work with every crew member whether they be five years older or thirty years older. “We all get along. We’re like a big family and it makes the day go by so fast.” As for his family away from the job site, Andrew relates, “My family thinks it’s a great project for me to be involved with and they hope to someday see the finished product in person. I’m looking forward to seeing that full finished product, too! There’s been so much effort by everyone and I’m proud of what I’ve put into it . . . it feels so good to be a part of it all!”
With the finished product peaking over the horizon, Andrew looks to the future with much anticipation and hopes to continue to play an important role in both new construction and restoration/renovations. For the crew and all those involved in saving this historically significant wood building, Andrew has not only become part of the family but a very real and concrete example that the foundation of our tomorrow has great promise. Talented, hardworking and intelligent young individuals like Andrew MacDonald deserve to be celebrated and we are glad to do our part in letting London know they exist!
Bravo, Andrew! Bravo!