Greg Hildebrand, Sheet-Metal Worker

May 11, 2009
By Katie Pratt BRONZE, Aurora, Illinois
Katie Pratt BRONZE, Aurora, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Gregory Hildebrand is a 34 year old man currently residing in Illinois. He is a man of many talents, including fixing cars, building various objects, and dealing with electrical appliances. Although he’s excellent at these things, his forte is being a sheet-metal worker. He has been one for sixteen years, going on seventeen.

What inspired you to become a sheet-metal worker?

I like to work with my hands, create things, and stay busy. Also when I was eighteen, my friend John was a sheet-metal worker and I wanted to go into the same business as him, to stay close.

What are some typical tasks you do on the job?

The main thing I do is I form flat sheets of metal into fittings and ductwork for HVAC systems. HVAC stands for “heating ventilating air conditioning” by the way. You can find my type of work if you go into Noodles and Company. If you notice, the ceiling has dark gray tube-like structures, and that’s the ductwork that we do.

What labor unions or memberships do you get enrolled for being a sheet-metal worker?

I am in labor union Local 265, which is well, a sheet-metal union. I am also in the SMACNA organization. Being in both of these, I am guaranteed to get fair wage, above average insurance, and a pension and annuity fund.

What classes do you need to take to be successful at your job?

To become a journeyman, or master like I am now, I had to have a 5 year sheet-metal apprenticeship. That includes a shop/welding class, drafting class, autocad class, extensive math work, including algebra, trigonometry, and geometry, service class, and on-job training. A main key though to achieve all of these is to not be a BLT, a big lazy turd. That’s a joke me and all of my fellow workers have.

How does the economy affect the work assigned to you?

In bad economies, nobody wants to spend money on remodeling or building, for both residential and commercial homes. That’s how it is now.

What is the workshop like?

Well the whole shop is regulated around OSHA standards. We must always wear glasses and gloves; they are required. It’s extremely clean, but you do always find a way to get dirty, so you must wear clothes you don’t care about. It’s extremely hot in the summers, which can be a pain.

If any, what regrets do you have regarding your job?

Only that if I knew what the physical labor was like, I might have considered another job. It ages the body much, much, much faster than a regular 9-5 office job. It’s come to get body aches of all sorts, skin abrasions, scars, and sometimes burns.

Would you recommend becoming a sheet-metal worker, why or why not?

Yes I would 100%! I get great benefits and decent wages. My favorite part though is when you go in a building or restaurant and you see your work. I get a great sense of pride in knowing I’m the one who is making all of these people warm on a frigid winter day.

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