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.
Keep Craft Alive Profile: Steve Malon
Name: Steve Malon, Owner Malon Insulation Services Inc.
How You Got Started
We started from scratch. Back in the 1970s, there weren’t a lot of independent insulation companies. They just didn’t exist. We started with a pickup truck, trailer and an insulation blowing machine, and we just worked from there. When there are only two or three men in the company, you have to do it all. We’ve grown since. In 1990 my dad retired and I took over the business.
The College Question
I went to college for a bit for electrical engineering. Once I started school, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sit behind a desk. I switched to a trade school. These days, everyone is going to college to become computer programmers — well, that creates a glut on the market. Then they can’t find work. I had college grads working for me because they couldn’t find anything in their field. They’re overqualified in terms of education, but they can be dumber than a rock when it comes to insulation.
Advice for New Workers
Education. Thermodynamics is not a simple thing. It is not throwing batts in the wall and putting some stuff in the attic. You can’t throw batts in the walls and expect them to work correctly. You have to check everything before you blow your first fiber of material. It’s prep work and knowing what to look for so that you’re ready for whatever happens. Or else it’s just a sea of insulation. Insulation technicians do a lot better if they understand the science behind what they’re doing.
I’d love to say our employment situation will improve, but that’s not going to happen. There will always be a call for the trades, for people to build homes. You’re not going to get computers to build homes. It may become more and more based on prefab components, but the trades will still need people.
Key to Success
I was smart enough years ago to set up my staff so that they can run things every day and I don’t have to be here. That was one of my best decisions — being able to let go. That gives me the freedom to do what I need to do as an owner.
Favorite Part of the Job
I get the most satisfaction training. When technicians understand what I’m trying to teach them, when that clicks, it’s great! It doesn’t matter what your teaching. When I can share my knowledge with someone and I start to see that light go on, that’s where a lot of satisfaction is. I’ve been a trainer for many, many years. I got involved with that in the 1990s, teaching people how to do the blow and blanket system. I go around the country training well over a hundred companies on how to do insulation. That’s my favorite part of the job.
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.