MH Spotlight: The young, skilled tradesperson: Tim Olson

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Tim Olson works for Blaylock Plumbing in Richfield, MN. Blaylock Plumbing Company has been in business since 1938 and to this day the business is run by second and third generations under the proud traditions of integrity and reliability.  If you ask the family-run business owner’s about the company they will quickly attribute any success they’ve had over the years to the hard work and high skill level of their employees.  Tim Olson is an apprentice in the Minneapolis Plumbers Local 15 JATC program and a member of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Welders & HVAC Service Techs.

As you have read in past articles, Mechanical Hub has started to highlight the young skilled tradespeople coming up in the trades. They are our future. I recently spoke with Tim about the plumbing trade, and his involvement in it. The timing of our conversations was amidst his participation in a local PHCC Chapter Apprenticeship Skills Contest.  The following is Tim Olson in his own words.

MH: How did you get started in the trades?

Olson: I had a neighbor that ran a plumbing company out of his home when I was growing up. I started working for him one summer when I was fifteen and, I’ve been plumbing ever since.

MH: What were some of the biggest influencing factors to get you involved with the trade?

Olson: I can’t really say that it was a conscious decision. I wanted a job that payed well, couldn’t be outsourced, didn’t involve a desk, and had a bit of variety. Farming didn’t seem to have much of a future in it back then, so I stuck with plumbing.

MH: What do you enjoy about the job? Dislikes?

Olson: I like variety. Plumbing has given me the opportunity to do all sorts of things over the years. I have done everything from service and remodeling, to excavating, running a cctv truck, commercial construction, septic pumping, I even spent a summer running a vactor truck.

MH: What is a typical work day like?

Olson: I start at the shop every morning around 6:30am. I load the truck for the first job and talk with the boss for any instructions or information I might need for the day. A lot of times I am sent to help coworkers because one of my own jobs isn’t ready. Scheduling and communication can offer quite the variety every day. Sometimes my day might end with one last job like a water heater install or service call but I’m usually home in time for dinner.

MH: How did you get involved with PHCC and/or the Apprenticeship Program?

Olson: I was a drain cleaner for one of the bigger plumbing companies at the time, and they needed another service plumber, so they sent me down to the local JATC and I enrolled in Local 15’s apprenticeship program.

MH: Do you have a favorite tool you rely on?

Olson: I probably get the most use out of my Milwaukee M18 Hackzall.

MH: Got any hobbies? What do you look forward to after the job is done?

Olson: I like to restore antique tractors. I try to hit the local ski slopes to snowboard when I can and I love to kayak in the summer.

MH: Do you have a favorite band? What kind of music do you listen to?

Olson: I mostly listen to MPR. I like the news and intelligent discussions rather than the noise and distraction.

MH: Would you recommend other young people to join a trade as a career? Why?

Olson: Yes, People will always need plumbers… pipefitters, um, not so much.

Tim Olson with other apprentices and Program Coordinators after the PHCC Apprenticeship Contest. Photos: Jack Hetwer, Plumbers Local 15, JATC Coordinator.

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