Roofing Specialist Charles Leach: With Construction Ready Training, ‘People Take You More Seriously’

Before Charles Leach enrolled in Construction Ready, he had some experience in the industry. He had worked with an uncle on remodeling homes, and he spent three years with a roofing company. Completing the program gave him two things he could not gain on his own – a set of important credentials and a network of relationships – and accelerated his career by leaps and bounds.

“There were years that went by when I had no training at all,” says Charles, an August 2016 graduate of Construction Ready at Georgia Hill. “That was the greatest selling point for me. I didn’t know the actual steps, the safety protocol, and basically how to go about business. I knew that at least by going through the program and getting the credentials, that would take me in a better direction.

“Another thing,” he continues, “is Construction Ready gave me a network – people I can have connections with so that if I need information, they can help. In this business, the more people you know that do your type work, the better it’s going to be.”

A native of Atlanta’s Mechanicsville community, Charles has consistently leveraged those credentials and connections to find work around the Southeast and the Midwest.

After being hired initially by Cleveland Electric, he returned to roofing with Division 7 Contracting, which sent him to jobs in Iowa and Illinois for two years. He returned to Atlanta in 2018, then landed a roofing job on a Louisiana oil refinery. He’s now in his hometown again, working for Atlanta-based Innovative Roofing while also building his own business on the side.

“Construction Ready helped me tremendously,” Charles says. “It opened my mind to this whole new journey that I’m on. I probably wouldn’t be in the position I’m currently in right now. I’ve been a foreman for over a year. It seems like when you put that OSHA 10 on there, and all these other certifications, people take you more seriously. They don’t look at you like you’re just another person coming for a job; they understand that you took time to get trained.”

While Charles was traveling and working hard over that three-year period, CEFGA was putting a followup program to Construction Ready in place. Construction Ready PLUS was launched in 2018 and provided the logical next step in Charles’ career path.

As he recalls, “One day I was like, ‘I got my OSHA 10 and I need my 30. Why don’t I just contact the people that helped me get my 10 and see if they can help me?’ It was so crazy. I contacted Alexis [Muir, CEFGA’s Construction Ready Career Coach], and she said, ‘Charles, there’s already a program in place, and I will make sure you get in it.’”

Charles graduated from Construction Ready PLUS in fall of 2019, coming away with that coveted OSHA 30 credential, plus six more.

“Another course that was really helpful was Crew Leadership, where we learned how to handle different situations when it comes to being a foreman or a supervisor, he says. “I’m actually still reading that book.”

Charles credits the expertise and encouragement of his instructors – Johnny Hughes in Construction Ready and Kelly Almond in Construction Ready PLUS – as a big factor in his success. Hughes, he says, helped him realize he could be a successful business owner himself one day.

“I really connected with him,” Charles recalls. “He showed me that I could turn the little business that I was doing into something major. He helped me go in the right direction when I basically didn’t know anything.”

Charles now has a business license and, just as important, a vision for that business. “I’m trying to learn more about solar roofing,” he says. “I’m thinking about what is going to be the future of roofing, what will maximize profits, and solar seems to be the next big thing.”

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