You never know what the day might bring. Sometimes, the best-laid plans fall to ruin, while other times you just might take a step into the surreal. Oct. 9, 2019, according to my Magic 8 Ball, all signs pointed to some pretty exciting fare for a writer covering the construction industry’s biggest tech conference of the year, Procore’s Groundbreak.
I was anticipating an inspirational keynote from Team Rubicon’s, Jake Wood (and he delivered!), followed by an enlightening stroll through the Phoenix Convention Center, punctuated with a few choice break-out sessions.
For Anthony Fasano, Southern Region Training Coordinator at the Carpenters Training Institute (CTI)—and a real salt-of-the-earth guy—the second day of Groundbreak would turn out to be more fulfilling than he ever imagined possible.
“I never thought how different my day was going to be when I walked out of breakfast,” Anthony reminisced hours later. “I ran into Tooey [Courtemanche], and he asked to hear my story.”
What a story Anthony had to tell.
An “aha” Moment
Like myself, Anthony’s first order of business on that eventful day was to watch Jake Wood’s keynote presentation. He had read about Team Rubicon on Procore.org’s website but didn’t know much about them other than that they are a veteran-led disaster relief company.
“The keynote was very powerful,” said Anthony. “I had no idea Wood was a marine, and his humility about his accomplishments in the Corps deeply impressed me. I was a Marine myself and know just how hard it is to graduate the sniper school,” he added.
Anthony was so inspired by Wood’s presentation he felt compelled to offer his skills to Team Rubicon. After personally signing on with Team Rubicon’s cadre of “gray shirts” (volunteers), Anthony had an epiphany. With a nationwide network of union contacts and apprentices borne out of his CTI affiliation, he could potentially coordinate a significant amount of skilled labor in support of Team Rubicon’s disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Anthony immediately got on the horn to make the connection between the local Houston Union Apprenticeship Training Center and Team Rubicon.
“The hope is to bring apprentices out to the job site to work side-by-side with Team Rubicon on any houses that need framing, drywall, or other carpentry skills,” Anthony said with barely contained excitement. “Additionally, we want to bring our instructors to teach other volunteers those skills.”
Anthony’s motivation to join Team Rubicon was three-fold: an innate desire to do good, and esprit de corps with Team Rubicon, and a personal mission to uplift the construction industry. “There’s a perception of what it is to be a union carpenter, and it’s not always great. Anything I can do to bridge that gap is worth the effort,” said Anthony.
What did I tell you? Anthony is the salt-of-the-earth. How he found himself in a position to make such an incredible impact is a story 30 years in the making.
The Weitz of His Eyes
As a boy, Anthony looked up to his grandfather, who was the head paymaster for Weitz Construction Company, a Des Moines-based commercial general contractor founded in 1855. His grandfather always pushed him to join the company, but Anthony was a stubborn young man and wanted to blaze his own trail, which he did when he turned 18. It wasn’t until years later, after his grandfather passed away, that Anthony finally followed his lead and signed on as a carpenter at Weitz Construction.
“On my second or third job with Weitz, the superintendent explained what role my grandfather had played in the success of the company,” Anthony said, tears pooling in his eyes. “He was the only payroll master at Weitz for 42 years and had a huge impact on the company’s culture. In fact, after retirement, he still had to go back and reconcile the books every year because he was the only one who had ever done it.”
Carpentry in the Digital Classroom
After years honing his skills in the field—and joining the Carpenters Local 106 in Des Moines, Iowa—in 2017 Anthony found his way into teaching at the Carpenters Training Institute (CTI), where he’s been an instructor for nearly three years. Coincidentally, his first introduction to Procore happened the same year, when W.A. Klinger, a construction company based out of Sioux City, Iowa, contacted CTI requesting an instructor to lead a training class in Procore.
Anthony, who was teaching carpentry apprentices, was intrigued.
“I’d never heard of it [Procore] so we reached out to Procore.org, who set us up with an account,” recalled Anthony. “At the time, we were teaching paper prints. However, apprentices were using iPads in the field, so we created a print reading curriculum—a single course—to teach digital drawings.”
From that first class came another, and then another, until Anthony eventually developed curriculum for a total of eight classes. All taught directly from the Procore platform, today those courses have spread across 9 CTI training centers in partnership with the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.
“Every week we as many as 300 students using the App in some form of training,” explained Anthony. “We have 2,400 apprenticeship students currently using the App for their training and have exposed the name Procore to over 25,000 apprentices and journey-persons over our six-state training region.”
And with Procore’s platform available out on the shop floors, apprentices spend more time getting hands-on building instruction.
Procore literally revolutionized our training.
“We have a digital classroom where instructors don’t ever leave the Procore platform—sign-in, presentations, workflow activities, scavenger hunts—everything is done within Procore,” Anthony explained. “It’s very different than how most end-users utilize the app. Procore literally revolutionized our training.”
Evolution = Revolution
According to Anthony, as the construction industry has evolved, his more recent apprentices have tended to eat, live and breath technology. In his opinion, this new technological know-how enhances the quality of training and increases engagement, which in turn produces a new generation of construction workers that are better equipped for the modern job site.
We have a saying at CTI – Procore gave us the keys to the kingdom.
“There’s no doubt that the quality of training turns out better carpenters—no doubt,” Anthony affirmed. “We have a saying at CTI – Procore gave us the keys to the kingdom.”
When asked if he had any sage advice for aspiring carpenters, Anthony responded in earnest. “Don’t ever stop learning,” he advised. “Be open to suggestions, to forward thinkers, to new ideas—that’s what our industry needs.”
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