Celebrating 50k Instagram Followers – Meet a Member
Our Instagram page just hit 50,000 followers… AWESOME!
To celebrate, we wanted to meet the man behind Little Wing Construction. While we haven’t been able to confirm rumours that he’s a distant relative of Eminem, we can tell you that ‘The Wing’ is our resident trash-talker, dropping by now and then to deliver a jaw-droppingly bizarre and impressive monologue that leave us in pieces. While we’d already worked out he wasn’t quite right, we found out he’s actually a ripper bloke, he loves his trade and it’s guys like this that make carpentry the Greatest Trade Of All!
Everyone assumed Greg would follow his dad into the trade. He spent weekends on job sites from age 2, and with a chippy brother as well, it clearly runs in the veins. But he took the long way round, studying industrial design at Uni, working in that field for a year, and labouring for pretty much every other trade before returning to his dad trying his hand at carpentry.
“I started labouring for dad again at 24 to get some cash together but for some reason this time it was amazing. I got a new, fresh appreciation for these guys I’d known all my life – they were so talented, they could do anything. Down to earth, no office politics, just real people”.
So he started up in his apprenticeship, doing high-end new builds and renovations around the Melbourne bayside, “and it was just the best.”
After working alongside his dad and some other builders, trying his hand at supervising and commercial along the way, Greg decided to spread his (little) wings and head out on his own. He’s carved out a niche centred on a diverse in-house skill set and still loves to work with his dad when possible.
GREG, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE CARPENTRY TRADE?
“It takes your entire existence to build: your whole body, your whole mind, you have to be diplomat, a people-person, a social worker, a negotiator, a problem solver, a business person and still have a enough left in the tank to be a good husband and father – that’s what’s exciting: the challenge”.
What frustrates him is undervalued the carpenter is. With low rates compared to other trades, the expectation from the general public is that chippies are half as smart, half as skilled, we’re half as respected… and it’s just not right.
“That’s the thing with chippies, it’s more than money. No one in their right mind chasing money would get into it, you’ve gotta love it, and I think with chippies it’s their destiny. But it kills me, how much you have to know and be able to do, the inherent responsibility and accountability compared to people in better-regarded jobs or trades.”
Ultimately, the carpenter brings all the other trades together and makes a job possible. And whatever end of the market you’re in, from volume builds to architectural, high-spec homes, the quality of the build is only ever going to be as good as the quality of chippies on site.
“It’s not about saying we want the same rate as someone else – as chippies, we need to appreciate we can get so much more work out of a job than other trades. And the standard for the money should be as high as possible, everyone should do the same. You work your butt off. What it costs you to get your skills, get your tools set up, build your product knowledge, the mistakes you make, the lessons you learn… it’s a hard trade, it’s brutal. I think every good carpenter is worth his weight in gold, but we’re not getting the respect we should.”
WHAT DOES OUR TRADE NEED?
Greg believes that what we need is young guys coming in to the trade with that mindset, who are proud to be in the trade and who value their own skill set but foremost – learn how to perform properly to justify the extra money they are worth. These guys have to have a decent grasp of their figures, which they can get through access to the right support (through CA). From this we’ll naturally see a fair increase in rates – over time, and in line with the more professional trade and higher skill levels that emerge.
“Young guys out on their own subbing for $30-35 an hour, it’s ridiculous. For their own sakes chippies shouldn’t be working for that, or should leave the industry if that’s all they can get. It’s so sad – they don’t know how much their business is costing them, how much they’re actually making after expenses or what impact they’re having on the trade at large – it’s like a horrible hamster wheel for these guys.”
And they often don’t find out until it’s too late.
Not one to blow his own trumpet, Greg just feels fortunate to have been able to find a niche, build a largely referral based business and be able to provide for a family doing the work he loves. But there aren’t enough niches for everyone – we need to have the bar set at a level where we can enjoy what we do AND earn what we deserve on a broader scale: the very future of the trade depends on it. We need carpenters to be able to afford to stick around in the trade – otherwise who trains the next generation of carpenters? Who are the builders of the future?
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GET ON BOARD WITH CA?
“Honestly, it wasn’t noble at all.. I signed up because I liked the Instagram page and was having a good time on there with a few other blokes. But the more I understand about what you’re doing, the real work you are doing behind the scenes, the more I see it’s a really good cause and I want to support it. If CA is about getting us chippies the respect we deserve, then I’m down with that. I think if it’s gonna help us, we should all back it.”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHER CHIPPIES CONSIDERING JOINING UP?
“You owe it to yourself. It’s not good enough. People think they can have your skillset for a figure they’ve got in their head and that’s not the way it should be. You can accomplish it yourself within your business and if you get that respect you can get the money, but as for respect for the industry itself, that needs to change. Chippies are slugging it out making a living, we’re warriors in the trenches, we don’t have the time or power to deal with this stuff on our own”.
The way we see it, no one carpenter can push for better regulation, raise the rates, educate the public, or get the carpentry trade more respect – the best an individual can push for is to keep doing what you’re doing and improve your own situation within existing market constraints. But as a group we actually can have some clout: CA is a way for all chippies to back their trade, back themselves and back their chippy brothers and sisters too, so we can all look towards a better future. And that’s worth it.
Lastly, from us here at CA, we want to say a thank you to everyone for getting behind us so far. We’re looking forward to bigger and better things for all chippies with your ongoing support. To those who aren’t on board yet, guys, get around us! Click here today and join your fellow proud chippies around the country in supporting a stronger trade in the future.