Editor’s Note: LaborPress is proud to present the 2022 Outstanding Apprentice of the Year Awards for Long Island and New York City on Thursday, June 16, hosted by Teamsters Local 282 in Lake Success, NY. Today, we continue our ongoing series leading up to this year’s gala event introducing each of those fascinating and inspiring award-winners to the wider labor movement.
New York, NY – At only 22, New York District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) Local 157 Apprentice Eric Reynolds has already purchased his first house – in beautiful Montclair, New Jersey – an impressive feat he credits to his union membership.
“Without the union, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of things that I’ve been able to accomplish in life,” the Brooklyn native says. “With the skills I learned, and obviously, the money I made, and the opportunities to make money, I was able to save up enough and finally purchase this house. Montclair is a beautiful neighborhood.”
Reynolds calls his 110-year-old Montclair home a “real handyman special.”
“It’s a 110- year-old house which has never seen a day of love, so I had my work cut out for me,” he says. “And without the confidence I learned and the confidence in my own self to handle that, it would never have happened.”
Reynolds is the perfect person to restore the fixer-upper – even his interests outside of carpentry revolve around other aspects of construction. “That’s all I’ve been living – plumbing, tile work, flooring, the whole nine,” he says.
Reynolds even restored a rental unit in mother’s Sunset Park property to bring in extra income and help her purchase her own retirement dream home in Delaware.
Reynolds’ path into the Carpenters union was unique: a man who turned out to be a union shop steward from the NYCDCC saw him unloading a truck loaded with steel and was impressed by his hustle.
“He said, ‘Here’s my number. The union line for the Carpenters is starting this day, give me a call. I would like to see you on that [application] line.’ Says Reynolds, “I saw that opportunity, stayed on the line for I think, three days, and the rest is history.”
Reynolds recently won First Place in the NYCDCC Training Center competition in Interior Systems.
“We do mainly everything you see – walls, ceilings. If a building is going up, the concrete carpenters go, they pour the concrete, and then after them it’s usually us, the interior guys that put up the partition walls, the ceilings, and the soffit,” he explains. On his current job, Reynolds says, “Ninety-percent of my work will be framing walls with metal stud and track, sheet rocking, and putting up acoustical ceilings. And then the smaller things, we tend to install metal door frames, fire cabinets, and a lot of mix/match things from there.”
Reynolds says winning top honors in the NYCDCC Training competition was exceedingly tough.
“I was very surprised because, not to brag, but I’m pretty good at what I do. I take pride in it and I work hard,” he says. “But the competition there – I didn’t expect it to be as good. Those guys gave me a run for my money. It was probably one of the hardest days I worked in my life.”
As far as his plans for the future, Reynolds is characteristically determined. He says he wants to further his career and “get a higher position” within the company that current employs him, while continuing to expand his construction knowledge and earnings, so that he can invest in even more real estate.