After 17 years of working retail and wholesale, Carlos Marine couldn’t escape the feeling that he wanted to build things with his hands — projects that he could be proud of.

He knew that he had made a great choice joining the apprenticeship with Insulators Local 12, when he realized that the trade covers so many specializations that you can keep learning new things years into practicing as a journeyman.

“I really like that. So that’s the enticing part of it,” Marine told LaborPress.

It’s Marine’s seriousness about the craft of insulation and his genuine interest in the field that has set him apart. This dedication will be honored at Labor Press’s upcoming ceremony focused on trade apprentices June 13.

Marine didn’t grow up in a union household, so when he was first joining the workforce, he just didn’t know much about what union careers were available to him. It wasn’t until he was considering a career change in his mid-30s that a friend approached him about construction trades. It was then that he started reading about insulators — a job within the realm of construction that includes skills like common forms like mechanical insulation, firestopping, asbestos or lead mitigation or abatement, but can also get really niche like sound attenuation and specialty fabrications for custom mechanical mechanical installations.

What appealed to Marine off the bat in this trade was that it required an all-in attitude from apprentices.

“You gotta be a hundred percent,” Marine said. “I really liked that. It was not gonna be a trial phase. I was all in. And they were on the same page with that.”

The apprenticeship has brought him to a variety of different construction projects across Manhattan, including a pipe insulation job “behind the scenes” of the neoclassical interiors of Grand Central.

“We’ve been to some areas of Grand Central that otherwise I would never be there. I saw the behind the scenes, how they operate,” Marine said.

He sees the job of an insulator as a way of contributing to something greater and making a difference.

“I always wanted to do something and stand back and look at it and say, all right, I built that or I did that,” Marine said. “This is more tangible and that’s what I always wanted to do.”

Asked what advice he has for those considering an apprenticeship program he said to do it if you find that you truly love the craft itself.

But beyond the sense of accomplishment in the hard skills Marine has learned through the apprenticeship, he said that it’s the steady schedule and family time that makes the biggest difference from the career he had before entering into the apprenticeship.

“More time with my family for me is at the top of the list. They’re the reason why I go to work in the morning,” he said.

Juan Carlos Marine


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