10. February 2012 · Comments Off on Meet The Crew: Phil Caudle – Site Foreman · Categories: Meet The Crew

Phil Caudle has been involved with the construction of the Red Antiquities Building since August of 2011.  As foreman, he takes on a great deal of responsibility at the site on a daily basis.  He smoothes the cracks, puts out the fires and makes sure at the end of the day, everybody walks away smiling.  As the site Manager’s right hand man, Phil is also partly responsible for training and mentoring the men who join the project looking to enhance their level of experience and skill.  “Everybody has a story,” he says with the gruff vocal cadence of a man who means business. “Everybody has a different reason for wanting to be here.”  Phil is all too happy to describe the young men who come to him for guidance as they polish their new found construction skills. “I’m happy to pass on my knowledge,” he says. “There’s nothing better than to take a young guy who isn’t too sure of himself and see the look of pride in himself at the end of the day.”

That look of pride is all too familiar to Phil, a proud Londoner for close to 30 years.  “When I was a boy, living in Elmira, I took woodshop in grade 8,” he says.  “Everybody did.  No big deal.”  He leans forward, his voice falls a bit as he describes the beginning of what would become a lifelong passion.  “I decided to build my dad a triangular shaped foot stool for Father’s Day,” he says.  He smiles as the memory comes flooding back.  “I drew the plans and laid it out, I even had the girls in Home Ec teach me how to sew so I could put a nice little cushion on top.”  Phil describes the look on his father’s face when he presented him with that footstool and it’s easy to see where this love of woodworking, of accomplishing something with his own hands began.  “You know, he still has it somewhere,” he says.  “Even after all these years.”

Phil took that love of working with his hands and as a young man, paved his way across our nation.  From cutting out switchbacks up the mountains of B.C. to fixing boats on the rocky shores of the East Coast, he’s always taken enormous pride in his accomplishments.  “I take a great interest in everything that I do,” he remarks.  “I love to learn and then I love to pass it on.”  That’s exactly what he’s doing each day at the Red Antiquities Building project.  “If these guys want to learn, I’ll teach them,” he says.  “I can be strict, sure, but it’s because I want them to give me one hundred percent.”  He describes the tremendous opportunity this particular project has given him: “I’ve worked on heritage projects before,” he says. “Blackfriars bridge, heritage homes on Dufferin street, I love the fact that you can take an old building and bring it back to the way it was in the beginning. It’s a labour of love.  It really is.”

Yet, make no mistake, according to Phil this building is a very different project with a steep learning curve.  “It’s not a new construction nor is it a renovation or a restoration.  It’s a combination of everything, really,” he says.  “These guys working with me are getting the best training there is. Hands down.”

Walking past the job site, it’s easy to tell which one is Phil.  With the yellow hard hat, steel toed boots, rough exterior, he’d be easily cast as Construction Man #2 in any TV movie of the week.  But, underneath the hat, he’s a devoted family man, married for over 20 years. He glows with pride when describing his two almost grown kids who are busy carving out lives of their own right here in the Forest City.  “I’m also an avid reader,” he says. “I’ll read just about anything.” He’s also a proud Legion member and definitely knows his way around the kitchen.  “I do all my own canning,” he says “Pickles, relishes, jams, you name it!”  Again, Phil brings us back to that passion for creating something with his own hands.  This is no doubt what makes him happiest.  “Anything you build, anything you make, it’s the same feeling,” he says as he searches his mind to find the right words. “It doesn’t matter what you’re making.  If you were to sit down and knit a sweater,  that feeling you get, that you’ve made it yourself.  That’s what I’m talking about.”  He smiles and leans back in his chair, imagining the accomplishments that still lay ahead of him.  “A piece of the Red Antiquities Building will stay with me.  Always” he says.

We hope so.

Kara James

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