Finding What Excites You Takes Work (and Not all of it Nice)


As part of our efforts to help Keep Craft Alive, we are talking to skilled-workers across the U.S. and Canada about how they got started in the field.

Profiling jobs that don't require a college degree

Keep Craft Alive Profile: James Engle

Name: James Engle

Company: J. Engle & Sons Builders

Industry: Carpentry and Wood Craft

About James

I’m a 28 year-old Kennebunkport, Maine local. I have been around the building and carpentry trades my whole life. My passions are carpentry and wood craft, bass fishing, surfing/skateboarding, and rebuilding old Harley’s.

How You Got Started

Growing up in Kennebunkport, Maine, I was exposed to the building trades at a very young age. My dad was a builder and a craftsman. Some of my earliest memories are being on job sites and in his shop. He was new to town and he seemed to hang out mostly with old timers after work in their garages. With them we made wooden baskets for the vegetables we grew, and tables for the mini farm we raised.

Fast forward a couple decades… my dad’s been gone for 5 years now, when he left us I was determined to live out his legacy. It’s been a rough road but every single bump and curve has taught me lessons I’ll never forget. Many great years behind us and many more to come.

On Finding Your Way

Looking at what it means to be a skilled craftsman

I have worked some nasty jobs in the past, and for some nasty people (one good example: steam cleaning heavy equipment that packs garbage into the ground at a WM landfill – first 2 years out of high school). When my dad passed, determined to uphold his legacy, I quit my job and totally changed the way I lived my life. Got insured; scrounged up what little tools and equipment I had, and became a subcontractor.

Building a Knowledge Base

At this point, each day I was seeing progress with my life, my skills were increasing and my knowledge expanding. I worked for a few different crews over the next few years, production framing, fine finish work, roofing, siding, etc, etc.

What’s Next in Your Career

Looking at what it means to be a skilled craftsman

One year ago, I made the decision to leave the crew I was on and go out on my own. This last year has been one of the craziest. Between the weather, and the difficulty level of the jobs I’ve performed, I’ve had my hands full. One thing for sure is, if it wasn’t for all the challenges I’ve faced in the past, there’s no way I’d have developed the skills and mentality that I carry with me today.

The Best Part of Your Job

The most exciting part now is that just within the last 6 months I’ve totally come to realize what exactly I want to be doing and have found the niche I am going to pursue!

Thank you, James!

Are you employed in the trades? Help us combat the image problem and share your story. We know there are a lot of talented people in the trades and we think it’s about time everyone else did too.

Want to read more profiles? Here you go.

For more information on how we support those in the trades and what you can do to help, check out our Keep Craft Alive initiatives.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome profile! I can definitely relate to wanting to head out on your own while making your craft your own. We recently started a pool cleaning company in naples florida and are doing something very similar. Each trade is their own art and sometimes you need to fly the nest to realize your full potential. Wishing you the best!

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