Instead of departing after our Outdoor Living series, Ben Middlemiss, president of London Design Build, and Jason Cameron, contractor and DIY TV host, stuck around for a conversation that explores their own career paths and why they enjoy the Trades profession. Join Mike Dunn, president of Dunn Lumber, for this personal conversation with two builders. 

Getting into the building industry

Both Jason and Ben grew up in the trades. Jason’s dad was a roofer and electrician, and he would take Jason out with him on roofing jobs. Jason found he loved working with his hands. The feeling of creating something gave him such satisfaction that he stayed in the industry. He became a framer, then worked in concrete, and finally started his own contracting business. Now he also brings his love of building to the entertainment world, through home improvement TV. 

Ben’s dad was a builder and his mom was a landscape designer. He remembers being dragged around garden centers in his early childhood. As he grew up, he followed his dad around to the houses he built, and he became fascinated watching things get built. He found he had an unquenchable desire to learn how to build things. Though he followed his parents’ push to go to college, he found he couldn’t stay away. Within a couple of months of getting his degree, he left his job in London and started his own landscaping and construction company.    

The trade industry today

Ben and Jason are both strong advocates for jobs in the building trades. They want to bring back greater awareness of these jobs. They want these jobs to be seen as respected career options, and for people working in the trades to be able to bring their own sense of passion to the work. They want people to be proud of working with their hands and creating things.

Introducing kids to the industry

Despite the labor shortage in the industry, many kids growing up today don’t know that these jobs are options for them. In schools, classes where kids could be introduced to these trades, such as woodworking or shop class, are often no longer offered due to budget cuts. Kids may not even know they’re good with their hands. 

The placement rates for vocational schools are very high, compared to four-year colleges and universities, and the jobs pay well. But on top of those benefits, Jason and Ben believe the thrill of the skills gained, the physical aspect of the work, including working outdoors in the fresh air, all make for a very rewarding job. As Ben said, “It’s a massively respectful career choice if you’re good at it, and you’re passionate about it.”