“My name is Tom Johnson.
“I’m from New England, Connecticut. I am 24 years old. I was actually eating breakfast with my mom and dad when they mentioned I should go to the Georgia School of Construction, member of the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools, NAHETS, (www.nahets.com). They said they would pay for it and I took them up on it. The drive down from Connecticut was 1,000 miles, and it took me 18 hours. I found out about the Georgia School of Construction through the website. The difference was the website. It was very professional-it looked like something I want to be part of.
“I really didn’t know what to expect-I was a little nervous. They were talking about job placement; they were really stressing safety. One of the things they said it would take was a good attitude. You have to be at the school at 7 AM, you do 4 hours of book work then you break for lunch, then you get out to the site around noon and spend the rest of the day on the equipment. It’s just like playing in the dirt.
“We showed up at the site and they gave us our hard hat and safety glasses. They could not stress enough the safety. We went and familiarized ourselves with the equipment there and we walked around the equipment telling us about the pinch points, about the grease nipples, stuff like that.
“Our first week we went over safety, our second week we really got on the equipment and really learned how to operate it and basic stuff, our third week it was more of skilled operator stuff. Level I was about skidsteer(bobcat), backhoe, tractor, dumptruck, watertruck, front loader, safety, familiarizing yourself with the equipment, and skill training on 7 pieces of equipment.
“The school stressed that their biggest thing was job placement so I put my confidence in them. The school would make a lot of contacts for me, they would write me up a resume. They went on the computer for me the used their own contacts.
“I stayed at the suburban extended-stay hotel, it’s a decent place. There’s a lot of people in and out so there’s always something going on.
“The staff is great. Jay, he is like one of the guys. I feel like my ability is much greater than from when I started. I feel very comfortable on the equipment that I learned to operate.
“I feel I know enough to start my own business.”