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Featherbone honors master craftsmen
1102masterGreg Simpson
Greg Simpson

Master craftsmen

Greg Simpson

Trade: Sitework

Years in trade: 25

The best part of his job: “I love the people I get to meet and the employees that make up our team.”

Robert Batey

Trade: Concrete

Years in trade: 52

The best part of his job: “I like all of it. There’s only one thing I did that I didn’t like.”

Jon Laughman

Trade: Mason

Years in trade: 31

The best part of his job: “I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of it and the instant gratification from it.”

Harry Pattillo

Trade: Carpenter

Years in trade: More than 40

The best part of his job: “I have been afforded the opportunity to meet and work with very nice people, and together we have put their dreams into reality.”

Scott Head

Trade: Finish Tradesman

Years in trade: 32

The best part of his job: “I enjoy all aspects of the process of laying tile. I enjoy the creative parts, the physical part of putting the vision together and especially I enjoy the instant gratification of seeing my work after it is completed.”

John Brady

Trade: Iron/Metal Worker

Years in trade: 47

The best part of his job: “It’s a great feeling to be able to finish something and be proud of it.”

John Payne

Trade: Plumber

Years in trade: Started his own business 11 years ago

The best part of his job: “I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and being outside, and this is one job  I can do that in.”

Ralph Crowe
Trade: HVAC
Years in trade: 50
The best part of his job: “It’s something different every day, and there’s always a new challenge.”

Mike Whitehead
Trade: Electrician
Years in trade: Almost 30
The best part of his job: “I think solving problems, gaining trust and creating new relationships keeps me interested and on my toes.”

Richard Padgham
Trade: Residential Builder
Years in trade: 27
The best part of his job: “I enjoy the creativity of it and bringing my clients’ dreams to reality.”

Many leaders help build their community, but on Thursday, 10 men who actually build it with their hands were honored in the Featherbone Communiversity’s first Master Craftsmen Awards.

The tradesmen were recognized for exceptional skills in plumbing, masonry, carpentry, sitework, concrete, residential building, electricity, HVAC, iron and metal work and ceramic tile craftsmanship.

“From its inception, the Master Craftsman Award has had two major objectives,” said Brian Daniel, co-chairman of the Master Craftsmen Committee. “First, we want to honor this group of 10 incredible men who are masters of the trade they represent and who rarely receive the recognition they deserve for their roles building the places where we all live, work and play here in Northeast Georgia.

“We also hope to showcase the recipients and their accomplishments in a way that invites a new generation of young people to consider the construction trades as a career choice.”

Sen. Butch Miller moderated a panel discussion at Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, where honorees had a chance to talk about their love for their work and why the next generation should consider such a career.

And although the tradesmen had made a name for themselves in their craft, many of them began their trades by meager means.

“I started out by shoveling sand in a box,” Jon Laughman said of his start in masonry.

Mike Whitehead, the only electrician honored, told the audience that the way to the top is through hard work and dedication to the trade.

“You can’t be afraid of hard work” as an electrician, Whitehead said.

Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, encouraged students in the audience to give trade and construction jobs more than just a fleeting thought. Because those in the trades make approximately 27 percent more than the average Georgia worker’s salary, Pridemore said there’s a lot of promise for those willing to get their hands dirty in “a great line of work.”

Featherbone Communiversity hosts four annual Masters Series programs each year, including Masters in Teaching, Masters in the Art of Nursing, Masters of Innovation and Master Craftsmen.

“Each program seeks to honor the masters in these fields, learn from them, their story, how they do what they do and why they have dedicated their lives to their professions,” said Gus Whalen, founder of Featherbone Communiversity. “In relating their experiences, they encourage young people to consider becoming masters in these careers and others.”

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