Joshua Willis Stuck with His Childhood Ambition; Now He’s Excelling as an Electrical Supervisor
Photos and Story By Allen Allnoch
Many young boys dream of growing up to become professional athletes. Joshua Willis always wanted to be an electrician.
He’s not sure why, but he says, “I wanted to do electrical work ever since I was 4 years old. I used to like to play with wires. I would tear apart remote control cars, pull the wires out, strip them with the gap in my teeth, then try to rewire them in reverse. I had no family history in electrical or construction. The closest thing anyone in my family did to construction was driving a truck at a granite quarry.”
Now 26, Joshua is living his dream as a supervisor for Smyrna-based Allison-Smith Company. He recently represented the company at the 2017 CEFGA CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championships – a fitting role since he’s a former SkillsUSA competitor himself.
After graduating from Elberton High School, Joshua moved to Decatur to live with an older brother and attend Dekalb Technical College. He transferred to Atlanta Technical College a year later and qualified for the SkillsUSA State Championships in 2011. He didn’t win, but one of his judges, Allison-Smith’s Matt Moore, was impressed with his work.
“He gave me a business card and I’ve been working with Allison-Smith ever since,” Joshua says. “I always wanted to do electrical work, but I didn’t know where it would take me. This trade has treated me very well.”
Indeed it has. Joshua was able to purchase a house at age 22, become a journeyman electrician at 24 and become a supervisor at 25. He manages crews of five or more on mostly commercial sites.
“I’ve been part of SkillsUSA for the past seven or eight years, and we had other people here before that,” says Allison-Smith Project Manager and Vice President Michael Mikko. “We always have someone here judging to see what the kids can do and try to recruit from the kids here, and Joshua was one that we picked up. We knew he was a good candidate, and he’s been a good success story for us.
“Just being able to get to this level and compete shows a lot,” Mikko adds. “You don’t have to win to succeed in a career. If you can just get to this level, it puts you in front of a lot of people, and who knows what opportunity you’ll come across.”
Mikko appreciates Joshua’s enthusiasm for the work. “Joshua is very passionate about what he does,” he says. “He’s very thankful for how he got here, and he’s embraced the job and excelled in it. He’s always looking for the next level. Fresh out of being turned out as a journeyman, he was wanting to run work, and he’s doing that for us now. He’s been a great person to have work with us and grow with us, and we hope he’s here for a lot longer.”
Joshua says he certainly plans to stick around. After all, he’s working his dream job, something not many twenty-somethings can say.
“Everything I wanted to do in electrical, I’ve done it,” he says. “Of course, there’s a lot more to do. But it’s just been a great ride. I thank God that I was able to not only achieve my goals, but also to be an example to others. That’s really the best part about it.”