Six Questions for a Man with a Passion for Teaching & Training
by Jeanne Brei
ECN is planning a series of Q & As with the men and women who work on the show floor and behind the scenes. For our first one, we headed to the new training center for Teamsters 631 and spoke with Michael Martinez, who has spent 14 years working in I&D, beginning as a direct hire for such exhibit houses as Alex Displays, Steelhead, Czarnowski, Willwork, MC2 and TSS before going through the apprentice program himself in 2011 and joining the union in 2013. In January this year, Teamsters 631 asked him to join the faculty at their new training facility and he has discovered a new passion for teaching the “tricks of the trade.”
ECN: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Martinez: I’m originally from San Diego but in my junior year of high school we moved up to Salt Lake City. I started boxing at age 11 and in 2004 I went to the Olympic trials. I would have never gotten into the exhibit building industry except that people I knew in the boxing industry recommended it. I have three kids: 13-year-old Reko who skateboards and plays guitar; 11-year-old Drako, a football linebacker; and my 7-year-old artist, Adalina.
ECN: What do you like best about your job?
Martinez: In January I started full-time training and creating classes for I&D, Advanced I&D and Exhibit Building. I really like training the guys from the center to be the start of a better apprentice and have better knowledge after leaving here–to teach the best tricks of the trade and elevate the level of the guys coming up—a more educated teamster. I like helping to create well-rounded journeymen, not some guy who says, “I only kick carpet or load a truck.” We do 12 hours in a classroom and the rest is 40 hours of hands-on. It takes 2,000 hours (about two years) to become a journeyman – and about 144 hours class time as an apprentice. Las Vegas has about 3,500 journeymen now and there’s lots more work coming, so we’re always training.
ECN: Did you have a mentor?
Martinez: I have worked with a ton of really great guys – especially carpenters, but if I have to pick just one, I’ll go with Scotty—Scott Hamilton from Czarnowski.
ECN: Do you have something you wish you could tell exhibit managers to make your job easier?
Martinez: Sure, more details! The more info you give to the lead man the better the job. Your guys are only as good as the info you give them. We need a crate count, electric layout, internet layout, booth plan/booth layout, carpet and pad info, etc., etc.
ECN: Do you have a favorite tradeshow? Or a favorite tradeshow city? Or a favorite tradeshow memory to share?
Martinez: Hmmm, that’s hard. I love the New Orleans’ shows for the food. Las Vegas has the best—no one can beat our labor service—close second is Chicago. I like Gaylord, D.C….
ECN: What advice do you have for someone just entering the industry?
Martinez: My best advice is to ask questions—don’t just assume what you’re doing—always ask. Don’t dummy down but listen to the guy in charge and be aware of your surroundings. Learn to watch, listen and learn. Don’t be so gung ho that you mess up. Also, remember that everything is always fixable. The definition of a good carpenter is that he can always find a way to fix it.
The Southern Nevada Teamsters 631 Training Center is located at 4490 Nexus Way Building 2 Suite #102, North Las Vegas, NV 89115. Telephone: (702) 651-0344. For more info, visit www.631train.com.
This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 45. For more pictures and original layout, visit http://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust2018_web?e=16962537/62860459