Richard Campbell: 43 Years in the Construction Industry and He’s Proud of Every Moment

Richard-Campbell-blogpostWood Construction Coordinator Richard Campbell is a testament to the opportunities available in the construction industry. As a highly skilled craft professional, Richard has been in the industry for more than 40 years and passes on his extensive knowledge to the next generation of welders. He currently teaches classes at an offsite training facility started by Wood and local training provider Crane Industry Services, LLC. The trainees are taught by the NCCER-Certified instructors and, upon completion, they receive NCCER credentials. Richard provides insight into changes in the industry over the years and the importance of making connections with the next generation of craft professionals. Tell us about your experience in the industry. I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and found a job with a DuPont pipe fabrication shop run by Daniel Construction, which later became Fluor Daniel. They hired me to sand blast pipe in the paint yard. After one day of blasting pipe, they quickly saw that was not a job for me. I totally destroyed the wood on the trailer holding the pipe. The foreman I worked for asked if I would be interested in welding; I said "yes'' and my career took off – so to speak. I learned and earned certifications in 27 different welding procedures. At that time, I had more certifications than anyone else who worked for Daniel. I developed several welding procedure specifications (WPS) for Daniel and, at times when DuPont had special jobs, I was sent to make specific welds they would not let others do. When I changed companies, they quickly realized I had a unique talent to weld, especially exotic metals such as Inconel, Monel, copper and titanium. The company used me to train welders on site. After 43 years, I have seen a lot, done a lot, and am proud of every moment. What are a few of the biggest changes you've seen? One of the biggest changes I've seen over the years has been in safety. In the 70's, if you had a small injury, an employee would usually not report it. Today, it is stressed to report any and all injuries, as well as near misses. Safety has significantly improved with the personal protective equipment (PPE) we wear and the mandatory use of a safety harness. Companies care more about the health and well-being of the employees. What would you recommend we do to reach out to the younger generations?  Our youth need to see that there are great opportunities in the construction field to provide a good, respectful living for them and their families. The younger generations are so wrapped up in technology today that it looks like an easy way to make a living. As a result, the construction industry does not appeal to them. They don't always realize that the money is higher starting in construction trades verses programming. PullQuote-0208-bIt starts at the high school level; they need to know that opportunities await them in construction. There's an advantage to learning a craft and having a career. If we don't have people replacing us, who's going to build the next power board? The younger generations need to realize that the cars we drive, the power we receive to our homes, the paper plates we use – everything we have was built by someone using skills that they learned. Our youth is our future. As an instructor, once you have students in class, how do you capture their attention? I start by telling them a little about myself and then I find out something about them. I try to keep them engaged in all of the topics. I want learning to be fun and not a chore. I tell them about past experiences and show how excited I am about being able to teach them a trade. I teach welding using a variety of techniques and media. I show videos of actual welding and explain what they are doing and why they are doing different things while they weld. I discuss certain methods of welding and explain verbally how it is performed so when they watch a video showing a root pass being put in, they will see what I was talking about. Showing real-life, relevant examples help builds the excitement for the craft that they are learning. I let them know there is a bright future for them in construction once they learn a craft. I want them to be as excited about learning as I am about teaching. I can teach anybody to weld, but I can't make everybody a welder. If somebody new to the industry walked up to you and asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be? PullQuote-0208-aI would tell them to examine the different crafts available, learn about the work involved in each and decide which one most interests them. Don't just pick something to learn. It has to be something you want to learn or you won't be happy. By picking the right craft, you enjoy what you do and it is very satisfying. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished. I just have a high school education, and I'm thankful for the opportunities I've had. Take pride in what you've built. Wood (formerly Amec Foster Wheeler) is a global leader in the delivery of project, engineering, construction, and technical services to energy and industrial markets. We think locally when it comes to workforce development and training and encourage our employees to build relationships with local workforce development councils, industry trade groups, community organizations, and local training providers. For more information, please visit the company's website at

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.