- Part of a series of featured Lambton College graduates or students -
Sarnia, ON, June 26, 2012 - Wiping the sweat from his brow, Daniel St. Germain scans his workmanship.
He’s pensive, reflecting on the job ahead of him. Hired to completely gut and renovate a home for resale, the bulk of the strenuous work lies ahead.
The to-do list is lengthy; kitchen and bathroom floors to redo, the hallway staircase, laundry room and bathroom, windows, trim.
Yet, St. Germain thinks, ‘I’m a lucky guy.’
A couple of years ago St. Germain was a man with an uncertain future.
Laid off from Waterville TG after more than 20 years with the company, the single father says being downsized left him wondering how he’d support a teenage son, with college tuition fees on the horizon.
“It took me some time to digest,” says St. Germain, his voice marked with a thick Quebecois accent.
After all, he was asked to move to the area from the company’s Quebec site to help with the Petrolia start up.
So, the self-described handyman decided to take advantage of the province’s Second Career training program and enrolled in Lambton College’s Renovation Technician program.
“I’ve always done renovation work, but the college provided the polish,” he says.
“The course was excellent.”
St. Germain says that combination of practical and theoretical instruction gave him the confidence to start up his own business — St. Germain Reno.
And there’s no shortage of clients seeking his services.
Steve Minten, Lambton’s Carpentry Coordinator, says he’s not surprised by St. Germain’s decision to go into business for himself.
He was a hard-working student that had a great eye for detail.
“Dan was really good, an exceptional finisher,” Minten says.
The course has been accelerated from two years into three terms, which run from September until August.
It makes for a longer week for the students, bumped up from the traditional 20 hours to 30.
“It is attracting students that are not afraid of work,” Minten says. “They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.”
A lot of the students that have enrolled in the program since its inception two years ago are mature students like St. Germain, he says.
There were 28 students in the first intake and 36 students enrolled this year. Minten expects 44 for this September’s intake.
Over the course of the three semesters students learn a variety of skills using just about every piece of construction equipment and tool imaginable.
Students learn advanced finishes, decks and porches, stamped concrete, alternative framing systems, as well as additional components to renovation construction with an emphasis placed on eco-friendly building practices.
Projects utilize Lambton’s 6,500 square-foot shop at the college’s Skilled Trades Training Centre and the 1,800-square-foot teaching house that is reconstructed annually by students.
The students also participate in community-based learning projects, such as working with non-profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Minten says it is a well-rounded course that complements the Carpentry Apprenticeship Program at the college.
“All the graduates from last year’s class that I’ve talked to are working,” Minten says.
St. Germain says he loves his new career, but there was some trepidation heading back to school, the 56-year-old concedes.
“I’m no spring chicken anymore.”
But, he’s happy with his choices and would recommend the college program to anyone interested in a construction career.
“I believe in what I’m doing and I have to thank my instructors.”
For more information about the Renovation Technician program at Lambton College, visit www.lambtoncollege.ca/RENT.