Trade Requires Problem Solving, Teamwork for Successful Insulation

Apprenticeship Minnesota highlighted one of our Local 34 Apprentices in a recent promotion to encourage Apprenticeships as an ideal pathway to a successful career for Minnesota youth. 

Former graphic designer and restaurant manager enjoys variety of jobs and physical activity of insulation trade

When Laura Goff of Circle Pines graduated from Inver Grove Heights schools in 1998, she did what was advised at
the time.

Insulators Union - Local 34 - Apprentice Laura Goff“If you want to be successful in life, you have to go to college,” she recalled being told. “For a woman, going into a trade wasn’t something they told us about.”

Goff liked art and considered teaching, but she opted for a graphic design degree at St. Cloud State University. She quickly realized she didn’t want to sit all day quietly working in an isolated cubicle with a computer. She drifted into managing restaurants which let her interact with people as she made new hires, trained workers, talked with customers and helped improve each business.

Thanks to a tip from a family friend, she signed up and found a new career as an apprentice through Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34. She started with a pre-apprenticeship position that gave her a feel for insulation work and for contractors to see if she was a good fit for wrapping insulation around HVAC systems, pipelines and other mechanical systems. Insulation
protects the components from energy-sapping cold or hot weather and keeps systems from overheating, wasting fuel and wearing out. 

Skills she acquired in the past two decades came in handy: visual skills in art to figure out how to wrap a valve or other tricky mechanics, a strong work ethic, food safety skills (handy in processing plants) and team building. Cooperation makes every construction job go better as insulators often need to coordinate work with sheet metal workers and pipefitters – especially in tight quarters.

Insulators Union - Local 34 - Laura Goff“You definitely get used to doing things in small spaces and up high,” she said. “At first it’s a little daunting.” Goff’s seen a little of everything with her four-year apprenticeship offering a wide variety of experiences. Local 34 has helped her rotate among contractors both large and small who work at refineries and industrial sites, factories and commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, churches and universities.

She’s not favoring a particular setting yet, but she’s enjoying the change of scenery, different crews and new problem-solving required by each site with unique needs and configurations.

Jobs have taken her into University of Minnesota buildings, historic churches, the Hewing Hotel and the new Vikings training facility where she’d find herself logging 14,000 steps a day.

“It’s fun to go back to places and see what they look like after you’ve been working on them,” she said. “It’s nice to be in construction and see how things are done. It’s helped me being a homeowner for sure.”

Besides getting good exercise and getting a mental workout with problem solving on the job, she feels good about how her trade helps places conserve energy and reduce their carbon footprint. 

“I like to work at something I can stand behind and be proud of,” she said. “I’m proud to tell people I’m an insulator.”

You can watch the video from Apprenticeship Minnesota here. 

Are you from the Minneapolis area and looking to join Local 34's Apprenticeship Program? Set started on a rewarding career today! 

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