This being "Workforce Week," it's a good time to share with you a feature on a current apprentice, Andy Lensink, with De Troye Electric Service, Inc., Oostburg, and a gold medal winner at the 2017 National Craft Competition.
 
Andy, 33, had a good childhood, raise in the small town of Oostburg. His mom did secretary work and his dad worked at the post office. He liked playing sports and building model cars and then messing around with real cars. He always liked mechanical stuff, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

He didn’t enter construction out of high school, but he did take some industrial arts classes in high school. However, these classes were limited. There wasn’t a big push on tech-ed, as the high school was pushing four-year universities for everyone.”

“The school was always pushing that way. You know, if you want to get a good paying job you should get into a four-year school,” he said. “Luckily, my parents didn’t push me into that route at all. There were fine with me going to a tech college or whatever I wanted to do. So that was nice.”

“When I was done with high school, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I did go to college for one year and I found out that I wasn’t goanna go down that route.” But he learned about the tech while he was at college and pursued automotive restoration.  

After attending the technical school, he landed a job with an auto restoration firm, but that ended up shutting down. Next, he was hired by a shop that built custom frames and suspensions for vehicles. By 24, he was married and had a couple of kids. Life continued to get hectic for the couple.

“My wife was working as a teacher. We knew we couldn’t make it off my salary alone, doing what I was doing. So, I started looking into what fields were more reliable, better paying, better benefits; and wound up with De Troye. They’re a great company. There’s good variety in what I do. We do big refrigeration systems like at grocery stores all the way down to ice machines and HVAC systems. You’re not just doing the same thing every day. It’s fun.”

“It’s a very in-demand field right now. There’s a lot of things going for it that I really like about it," said Lensink, pictured with his family (right).

For one, it’s work that can’t be outsourced. Andy said people don’t need to have hot rods and fancy cars, but people need to have air conditioning, heating and refrigeration.

“That’s never goanna go away. It’s nice knowing that there will always be some kind of a job there for you,” Andy said.

Now his wife can now stay home with three children, ages six, four and two, because they can live off his income alone.

“That’s a huge thing,” Andy said.

And he can still do his auto hobby on the side.

“It’s the best of both worlds. I can do that in my garage and still have a good job every day.”

Andy would recommend apprenticeship to anyone who is interested.

“With apprenticeship you can learn while you’re on the job and and you’re not coming out of it with massive student debt, so it’s a great way to go,” Andy said. “If you find a company that’s goanna let you work for a little bit and then offer you an apprenticeship, I would definitely take it because you’re goanna get to learn on the job, you’re not goanna be stacking up student debt like a lot of people do and you’re making money from day one,” he said. “And in all the skilled labor fields, they need people, so I don’t see a downside to doing it. It’s a great opportunity.”