BACK TO THE FUTURE
Paul Johnson was a student in HTC’s carpentry program in the college’s early days. Actually, back then, it was known as Suburban Hennepin County Area Vocational Technical Centers, which officially opened in 1972.
“What I liked was that it was all brand new,” Johnson says in describing the excitement of that time. “Instructors were just in from the field, so teaching was new to them, too.” Johnson graduated from high school in St. Louis Park in June 1973, and started the carpentry program in July.
Fast-forward 40 years and now Johnson is back at the college during HTC’s major remodeling projects at the campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie. As superintendent for the Brooklyn Park project with St. Paul-based LS Black Constructors, he says his return to the college has made him appreciate what the program offered then – and what’s available to students now.
“It was a great facility and a really positive environment,” says Johnson, who remembers that the program was well structured to include aspects of residential and commercial construction. After graduating in 1974, Johnson worked construction jobs for a couple of years and then entered an apprenticeship program through the local carpenters’ union, which required 7,000 working hours to complete. He followed that with some years gaining experience in residential construction, and then multi-family and commercial projects. In the late 1980s, he got some supervisory experience. For the past 15 years he has been a superintendent with LS Black Constructors.
“It’s a people business,” Johnson says about construction. “It’s all about how you work with people.” For example, he explains, the HTC project involves working on an occupied building, which requires communicating with college staff, his own work crews, and other people in areas under construction.
“I’ve worked on some unique projects,” says Johnson, which is something he enjoys. “Many times, they’re one-of-a-kind buildings.” During the last 15 years, Johnson has worked on projects that included St. Paul College, Three Rivers Park District’s Eastman Nature Center, a veterans’ cemetery expansion, and the Air National Guard Star Base.
For Paul Johnson, heading back to campus four decades after he graduated has given him a chance to reconnect with the college. Now, the great facilities he remembers from his days as a student are getting an update to serve students today and in the future.
Last updated by jhanson : 2015-02-21 13:53:23