News & Features » Miscellany

Tracey Pickard

Word & Image

comment
I'm a carpenter. I work for myself. I have a construction company, Team Construction, here in Church Hill. We do full renovations — houses.

After I graduated from VCU in '95 — my degree's in acting — I started with David Colley with Restoration Builders of Virginia. I was a carpenter's helper at first. I started at minimum wage.

After five years of doing work for other people, I decided to go ahead and try to do it myself. But I didn't find any guys to work for me. It just so happens that in the field I'm in, it's a male-dominated field. I mean, I would love to have guys to work for me. But I started out with all these guys, and I don't think they would have been too eager to work for a woman who had worked for them.

So I had to go out and find other people to work, other women who enjoy doing physical work and wanted to try out nontraditional jobs. Last year, I had three women working for me who had never worn a tool belt before.

They lacked the skills, but they all had the passion and the interest to learn carpentry. I showed them what they needed to know — how to use a tape measure and safety with all the tools. We talked about how if you mess it up it doesn't matter — you can fix it. Because it's just wood.

They were artists, they were already visual. So I took them and said, "You see this? I want you to mimic that." And that's what they did. They caught on really quickly. I'd give 'em quizzes and I'd grade them, just for fun. I'd write 'em on the wall — Framing 101, Nicole: A. It was definitely hard-core every day. We hung together for six months doing the project. And they did a great job. The houses sold.

The worst thing that happened? I got shot with a nail gun through my thumb. We were doing floor patches. It's a real tedious job and it had to be perfect, and it was about the fourth time it had been done. It was the end of a day, a Thursday. The nail went into the board and hit another nail and went through my thumb. I got X-rayed. It didn't hit a bone. It wasn't too bad, really. You just soak your thumb and get a tetanus shot.

I go to bed every night waiting to wake up in the morning. The best part of the job? Every day's a Saturday for me, because I get to go to Lowe's and spend other people's money. Which makes every night a Friday

Add a comment