I can talk about plaster all day. Unfortunately, I’m not as comfortable talking about me, but here goes.
I graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1969 with a degree in history. To put myself through school, I investigated people for credit reporting agencies, sold stationery, built oak wine casks for Almaden, worked for the LA Times in classified advertising, washed pots in the UCSB dining commons, was a resident dorm assistant at San Miguel Hall babysitting 400 male students, and dug holes for a landscaping contractor. That was a fun job. I was the only white guy on a crew of Hispanic employees. I traded peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for home-made tamales at lunch.
After graduation, I learned there weren’t a lot of opportunities for history majors, so I followed in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. I was a professional hodcarrier and member of Local 185 Hodcarrier/Laborers before I learned how to plaster and went on to became a member of Plasterer’s Local 295 Plasterers, the same union as my father and grandfather.
My first union job was cleaning up after a plaster pump for a foreman named Gerry Glenn. I did my plasterers apprenticeship with Roger Henley Plastering and was a foreman for the company most of my plastering career. Eventually, I organized for the Union and the California Lathing and Plasters Contractors Association, a Plastering Contractor Group.
All that prepared me for my dream job, Executive Director for the Sacramento Valley Bureau for Lath & Plaster. During my tenure with the Bureau, I reviewed plaster installations, diagnosed plaster failures and educated architects and general contractors on the best way of installing plaster components. I defined for standards bodies logical interpretations of building code language, and I was a resource to general contractors regarding their plaster concerns. I helped create a labor management trust to fund hod carrier training and wrote the curriculum for the first hod carrier training school in Northern California. I spent decades as a Trustee on the Northern California Plasterer’s Apprenticeship Committee
With retirement looming, I helped negotiate the merger of the Sacramento Valley, The San Francisco, Oakland/East Bay and the South Bay Plaster Bureaus into the Wall and Ceiling Bureau of Northern California, for whom I still consult.
Upon the completion of that merger in 2013, I opened Bell Construction Consulting which allows me to do everything I did as a bureau guy but at my own pace. I am still a member of the C-11 Committee charged with writing Standards Language for the American Society of Testing Materials and do defense litigation support for attorneys as an expert witness.
Semi-retirement is perfect for me. I still get to participate in the industry I love, my golf game is better than ever and there is plenty of time left over to cook for my new wife and our extended family.