Construction Ready Gave Ron Tate a Lucrative New Career
When Ron Tate came to CEFGA’s Construction Ready program in August 2017, he had two college degrees and years of experience in social work.
Today he has not only a drastically different career – in heavy civil construction and grading with Tennessee-based Wright Brothers Construction – he has something he never experienced in previous jobs: financial security.
“For the first time in my life, I drive up to my mailbox when I get home from work, and I don’t care what I open that door to,” Ron says. “There’s nothing in that mailbox that scares me – and that’s after 40 years of being scared to open my mailbox – because I know, whatever’s in that mailbox, I can handle it. That’s security.”
A native of Starkville, Mississippi, Ron has lived in Georgia for 17 years. His resume also includes work as a history teacher, 10 years in the Army and, most recently, a job as a security guard. In 2015, he stopped working to deal with a family tragedy – his son, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty back in Mississippi.
When he was ready to return to work again, he decided it was time for another career change. “I said, ‘I can’t do this in-your-face, highly volatile-type of [security] work anymore,’” Ron recalls. “I was walking through the library one day and I saw this flier about [Construction Ready]. I had already been looking for new things to get into. I had seen that Kennesaw State had a $7,000 construction management program. Well, I didn’t just have $7,000 laying around. Then I saw this flier for a free program with eight credentials.”
At age 55, Ron was the oldest member in his Construction Ready at Build Cobb class. He graduated in August 2017 and received a job offer from Wright Brothers. He initially turned it down, afraid the company would not retain him after the project he would be hired for ended.
“But they called back and said, ‘You’ll get 18 dollars an hour and you’ll follow the engineer around [to other jobs].’ I said, ‘OK!’ I got all kinds of degrees and I never made 18 an hour.”
Since then, Ron has completed a federal on-the-job training program to become a Journeyman Construction Field Office Assistant. In that role, he helps with everything from payroll and scheduling to sourcing and tracking materials. He’s moved to Calhoun, where Wright Brothers is building a highway bypass. Other projects in northwest Georgia are planned after that.
Ron also participated in CEFGA’s newest training program, Construction Ready PLUS. Funded by a grant from the Home Depot Foundation, the curriculum is taught on Saturdays and gives students advanced construction training, the opportunity to earn additional credentials, and guidance in more nuanced skills such as leadership and decision making.
“I didn’t know anything about construction,” Ron says. “In a year, I have learned so much. I feel good. I go to work every day smiling.”
And when his work day ends, there’s not another job to go to. Ron says he often worked multiple jobs in the past, because “I thought I needed [to do that] to make enough money. Construction Ready taught me that if you do the right thing and you got the right training and you got the right credentials, you don’t need but one job.”
VIDEO: Ron talks about his love of working for Wright Brothers Construction, and the financial security it has given him. Follow us on our YouTube channel to hear about more successful construction careers in Georgia.