by Gloria Biersdorff
In a brief break of sunshine on a stormy September afternoon, Brandon Plotner descends the ladder from the roof of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Corvallis, Ore. and steps to the wall lying flat on the concrete pad of the church’s future multipurpose room. He had helped construct the wall that morning in a torrential downpour, alongside his supervisor Tom Green, who works for Morris P. Kielty General Contractor, Inc.
“I learned a lot very quickly,” says Plotner, who displays the competence and aplomb of an experienced carpenter, in spite of having just passed the 1,000-hour mark as an apprentice (NWCOC). “I don’t think I could’ve gotten on with a better company. Everyone’s been very helpful. There’s so much I need to learn. I try to memorize everything.” Green praises Plotner’s focus and drive. “Brandon is very energetic, willing, wanting to learn, definitely goal-oriented.”
Plotner, 27, dropped out of Douglas High School in Winston, Ore. the beginning of his junior year. He had been working in lumber mills for nearly eight years when Reyna, his brother-in-law, told him about the program. “When I heard about [this program] I thought, that’s what I’ve been waiting for. Working at the mill, all you see is plywood. Here, you get done, and you’ve got that sense of pride. I get to see the end result.”
M.P.K. Project Superintendent Jon Mattheisen supervised Plotner during the Eugene train depot historic renovation project, completed in early September. “Brandon is a very hard worker. He’s smart, catches on, never complains. He’s great. Nobody hands you a paycheck in this world. But if you’re willing to put in the time, like Brandon and Alex, it’s a good paycheck.” Plotner, the father of two, lists high wages, benefits, education, experience and work satisfaction among the reasons why he chose this program. “I plan to make this a career. This is my opportunity. I want to run with it.”