I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of people in the building trades. It’s a shame that modern society puts so much emphasis on higher education and pays so little attention to the need for skilled labor. I don’t mean to suggest education isn’t a good thing. I’ve got a degree, and it helped me get this job. But there are different types of education for different types of people, and there are many ways a person can be “smart.”

For example, even with record unemployment in today’s job market, there is a serious skills gap. Skilled positions are left unfilled because there aren’t enough people trained to perform them. The relatively few skilled workers who fill them are enjoying a successful career. Meanwhile, college graduates are suffering record unemployment, and many of the graduates lucky enough to find work are forced to take jobs outside their field of study. Additionally, countless graduates are neck-deep in debt with student loans. So, if the goal is gainful employment and a secure career, then skilled workers appear pretty smart in today’s job market.

I came across a couple more examples at this year’s Remodeling Show in Chicago, Illinois. I met the makers of the SideJob Instant Cargo Rack. Invented by a construction contractor, it’s a clever way to haul building materials such as lumber and sheet goods using your work vehicle, without taking up valuable interior space. Just place the SideJob Rack over your ladder rack posts, hook the cam strap to a secure location under your vehicle and tighten. You’re then ready to haul materials on the side of your van or truck. The SideJob won Best New Product at the convention.



Another bright idea came from the young deck-building contractors who invented the Chadirondack (half chaise, half adirondack) from Deccessories. After fielding calls regularly from clients whose furniture blew off their dock during thunderstorms, they arrived at the Chadirondack solution. More comfortable than stretching out a towel on the deck surface, the Chadirondack allows for an adjustable seating surface that collapses beneath deck level when not in use. With a quick tug on a strap, the knee joint locks into place, requiring you only to lift the back support to complete the setup. After you’ve spent the afternoon relaxing in the seat, the Chadirondack easily closes and stows nearly invisible from the deck surface, allowing people to walk on top of it.


In both cases of these new inventions, a skilled worker saw a problem and envisioned its solution. These guys then designed their products through prototypes and testing, oversaw the manufacturing and ultimately brought them to market nationwide. It takes a lot of smarts to accomplish something like that.


— M. Weber

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