Like many young people, Andy Frost, took the traditional route – graduating from high school and going onto college. But along the way, he learned something important about himself – something that was right in front of him – he enjoyed building things with his hands. It’s this passion that eventually led Frost into the drywall construction business, where he has enjoyed success and happiness as a drywall carpenter.
It’s a lesson that he enjoys sharing with other young people who are trying to understand what path to take with their lives. As a person who loves fishing and hunting and spending time with his family, being a drywall carpenter has allowed Frost to create a good life for himself, while doing work that he truly loves.
Frost didn’t anticipate construction would be the career for him.
Frost, took a traditional educational path, graduating from high school and attending Lake Superior College in Duluth.
“At the time I didn’t know anyone in the trades, and I didn’t consider it as a career field,” Frost said. “Looking back, there was definitely some peer and social pressure that made me feel like I had to pick a college, even though I didn’t know what my next step would be or what I wanted to study.”
So Frost graduated from college, and like most young people, he began looking for jobs.
“I felt lost and nothing really appealed to me,” Frost said. “For a while I was cutting grass and just knew I needed to start a career but didn’t want just the average 9-5 work.”
Frost told his friends he was looking for a new opportunity and a fresh start.
“My buddy connected me with his dad who worked in construction for more than 30 years,” Frost said. “Right away he told me about the benefits about working in the carpenter’s union – the good pay, retirement plan, healthcare insurance and how you could make a good life for yourself in the building trades.”
A Long-Term Career From an Apprentice to Foreman
At 22-years-old, Frost secured an apprenticeship with Minnesota State Interior Systems, Local 68, the building trades union that represents carpenters, lathers, and floor coverers in Minnesota. Since graduating as a journeyworker, Frost has worked for Prestige Drywall Inc., first as a carpenter and now as a foreman.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Prestige Drywall Inc. is a subcontractor specializing in interior and exterior wall systems for the commercial industry. The company, a long-time member of the Minnesota Drywall and Plaster Association (MDPA), is committed to providing its customers with the best trained, most knowledgeable, union craftsmen and committed to providing our employees with a safe, team-oriented workplace. The company provides interior and exterior metal stud framing, insulation, gypsum wallboard hanging, gypsum wallboard finishing, sanding, installation of doors and hardware, installation of toilet partitions and accessories, rough carpentry, and finish carpentry.
For Prestige, Frost works on commercial projects, for which he manages a team, organizes materials, addresses job site questions and ensures project deadlines are met.
“I didn’t necessarily say, ‘one day I want to be a foreman’,” Frost said. “I worked hard. I took on more responsibilities and then more jobs came along. I continued getting promoted, and now I am a foreman. The job came naturally to me, and over time, I grew my skills and my network.”
Frost enjoys the community atmosphere at Prestige, and said he feels the contractor really cares for its employees, especially through the pension and “Cadillac” healthcare packages offered to employees.
“Everyone in the office is nice and it’s a solid environment to work in, plus they supply you with the tools you need and provide additional resources for you and your family to support you,” Frost said.
What does it take to succeed at this business? For Frost, who has worked with people of a variety of ages and attitudes, the key is attitude.
“The best people to work with show up on time with a good attitude and work hard to get the job done,” Frost said. “Coming prepared and stepping up to be a good teammate will leave you with a positive work experience. You’ll finish a job and enjoy the camaraderie of being with like-minded people.”
Skills Needed As a Carpenter
Frost recommends students interested in a career as a carpenter be familiar with using a tape measure and a screw gun. Math is highly involved in a carpentry career, but Frost said it’s not about being the best at math but rather being able to practice and memorize equations and put them to use every day.
“Looking back now I think the advice I’d give my younger self is maybe skip college,” Frost said. “You don’t have to go to college to start a career, there are many opportunities to make a living using your hands and your mind.”
Frost recalled how, even though high schools kept encouraging students and parents that college was the only path to success, they were overlooking the skills and talents students had right in front of them.
“In high school, I liked doing hands-on activities. For example, I took shop and carpentry classes. I helped build ice fishing houses,” Frost said. “All the pieces were there already – the skills I was developing, my knowledge of tools, and the enjoyment I experienced in doing carpentry. The apprenticeship process helped encourage this even more.”
Frost said he plans to continue pushing forward in his career path and will someday tell his young children about the benefits of apprenticeship.
“I’ll support them in whatever they do,” Frost said. “But I am going to make sure they know that there are many opportunities for a career beyond the college path.”
When Frost isn’t on the job site, you’ll find him spending time with his family at the cabin or hunting bears and deer throughout Minnesota — a lifestyle he enjoys and can continue to look forward to due to his hard work and successful career in construction.
Connecting Drywall Carpenters to the Best Drywall Contractors in Minnesota
The Minnesota Drywall and Plaster Association (MDPA), based in St. Paul, Minn., represents more than 20 leading, highly respected Minnesota-based drywall and plastering companies that offer drywall carpentry and plastering services for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial projects. Through its website, mndpa.org, the MDPA serves as a bridge in connecting people who are interested in pursuing careers as drywall carpenters and plasterers with its member companies.