Making the Grade
James Lux could easily be the “poster boy” for the value of technical training.
“James Lux will go down in the history of my class as the best, most motivated and determined student I have ever taught,” says Gary Siler, Lux’s masonry instructor at Harford Tech. “James gave me an excitement about teaching that has never left me. He was the type of student that you could show one time how to do something, then he practiced it and quickly mastered it.”
Lux has an equal respect for his teacher. “I learned 99 percent of what I needed to know for my first five years on-the-job from my masonry instructor at Harford Tech,” he says. “He has his graduates well prepared. If it weren’t for my technical training, I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Lux advanced to a regional contest at the end of his junior year. As a high school senior in 1995, Lux was the first of Siler’s students to advance to the national competition, at that time held in conjunction with the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, where he placed fifth.
By the time he was competing in the regional contest during his senior year, Lux received three job offers from judges adjudicating the contest. He sought his instructor’s advice and signed-on with Whitehall Masonry, where he spent five years laying block and brick.
Working early, staying late, Lux was discovered on the job by Florida Rock Companies. FRC hired as a general contractor.
“I feel really lucky,” says Lux. “Most general contractors come from the carpentry trade. As carpenters, they work with more different trades than most. I was lucky, too, that FRC was willing to train me for that position.”
After another five years working for FRC, he was hired as a superintendent for Manekin Construction Co., a general contractor out of Columbia, Md.
The VP of construction at Manekin, Dan Sharpe, thinks highly of Lux. “James is a great employee,” he says. “He’s a knowledgeable and a hard worker. He gets along great with our subs and provides good customer service. We can always count on him.”
Lux says the future of construction is getting more technical. “When I started, it was still a lot of hammerin’, sawin’, runnin’ wire and slingin’ mud,” he says. “It’s much more than that now.”
Lux seems a long way from his masonry roots, but that is not so. “I lay block and brick whenever I can,” he says. “It must be in my blood.”
Lux currently serves as a craft committee member at his alma mater, Harford Technical School in Bel Air, Md.
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