LOCATION: Las Vegas, NV
I install glass on commercial buildings as a union glazier. Things like mirrors and showers on the inside and all the window panels you see on the exterior, which we install from bottom to top and left to right, like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything needs to be plum level and square to match the drawing, within tight tolerances of just 1/16 of an inch.
For the glass high-rises you see in big cities, I work closely with the tower crane operator and other crew members to get glass panels to their intended destination. A lot of times operators can't see where you are, so they depend on you to call in precise guidance on speed and height. Each panel can weigh as much as 2,500 pounds.
This is a huge responsibility, because the team's safety and the project's success are in my hands. But that's what makes the job so exhilarating and fun.
I've had the good fortune of being involved with several high-profile projects over the years. A more recent one was the 67-story Fontainebleau building on the Las Vegas Strip, which I started on back in 2010 and didn't work on again until 2021 after a long construction delay. It was the first time in my career that I got to do the crane calling. Another major project was the 59-story Resorts World building, also on the Strip, where I did both the crane calling and worked up in the basket attaching anchors to the exterior. Both massive buildings are visible from almost anywhere in town, and I take great pride in that exterior glasswork every time whenever I'm in Las Vegas.
Back in the middle of my career, after I'd built up 13 years of work experience, my appreciation for what I do was reinvigorated thanks to my then 18-year-old nephew, Chris.
Chris was this big kid with a big heart who was fresh out of high school and not sure what to do next. I asked him to try working with me and he agreed. I took him down to my company and signed him up to get into the union. I even offered to pay his dues, but he wouldn't let me do that. And he just kind of ran with it from there.
Chris worked hard and was willing to learn, so I really took him under my wing. I did my best to impart what I knew as a glazier, a leader and a human being. And he not only became exceptional at what he does for a living, he became a great person who provides for the wife and kids he comes home to at the end of the workday. He did most of this on his own, but I hope I played at least some small part.
We are now both members of the glazier unions local in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Hawaii. We've been through a lot over the last 22 years, and it is so gratifying that he considers me a mentor. I know I consider him one of my closest friends.
We also share a loyalty to Red Wing boots. They're comfortable, they last forever, and they protect us from the sharp objects that are everywhere on the jobsite, including the occasional broken glass panel. Each pair of boots I've owned has the battle scars to show for it.
Looking back on my career, it is clear to me that building a legacy in the trades isn't only about doing good work. It's also about who you influence and the relationships you build along the way. I feel good about what I've achieved over the last 35 years.
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