Trainer Spotlight - Mark Stacey (Carpentry)
Posted Tuesday 16th May 2017
From high-rises in Brisbane to highways through the New Guinea mountains and high-end houses on the coast of New South Wales, carpentry trainer Mark Stacey is as experienced as they come. Mark was born in Canberra, moving to Brisbane when he was 11. He attended Toowong Primary and Toowong State High School, taking an interest in metalwork and woodwork. The son of a stay-at-home mum and a civil engineer, he was exposed to construction from an early age.
“Dad built a few of the high-rises in Brisbane. When I was young, he’d arrange for me to be on-site at a high-rise, usually pushing a broom or moving around scaffold. That’s how I used to fill my holidays,” Mark said.
Whether he was on-site, helping to build a garage or working on a retaining wall at the family home, Mark was kept active by his dad. After finishing school, he completed a year of university as a surveyor before moving up to Papua New Guinea for six months. He spent his time surveying a highway over the mountains in central New Guinea, which he looks back on now as a wild experience.
“It was a bit of a culture shock. The locals would just bolt along with twenty people in the back of a ute. Sometimes they’d fly off the edge of the mountain. It was a different world.”
Upon his return from Papua New Guinea, Mark decided he would not go back to university, choosing to pursue work as a labourer instead. He began working for a plumber before moving into construction with several different builders throughout northern New South Wales. Mark stayed with one builder in particular for a few years, eventually completing his carpentry qualification and gaining his carpentry license.
“With Dave’s backup as the builder I went through that process, got assessed, and got my carpentry license. It was the long road to doing it though, I would’ve been better off doing a three or four-year apprenticeship. It took me decades to get to that point,” he said.
After working as a carpenter, Mark went on to become a builder. During this time, he took on apprentices, helping them to become qualified carpenters themselves. Because of this, Mark understands the pressures that come with being responsible for the success of a renovation or new build.
“I know what it’s like to lose an apprentice for periods of time, which is why I think the system we have here at Blue Dog works so well. It’s a lot more flexible. Those were TAFE days, so they’d go off and disappear. One of them I got from Queensland down to New South Wales, so all the courses didn’t match up. He had to catch up on first year while he was doing second year, so I’d lose him for two days a week,” Mark said.
“It does put a big dint in your schedule, so the concept of having your apprentice on site when needed is really good. That’s what you want them there for.”
Mark moved to Queensland in 2009 and continued taking on jobs as a builder. He joined Blue Dog Training as a carpentry trainer at the end of 2016, after realising it was time to give the body a break.
“I enjoyed the work as a chippy and builder, and still do. I’ve been on the tools on the weekends finishing up a job for a client. The only thing I’m not enjoying is all the aches and pains.”
Some of the projects Mark most enjoyed involved renovating old Queenslanders, which is what he decided to do when creating his own dream home.
“On the other scale of things, the year before last I did two modern, high-end houses. And that was good too, because that’s current work, that’s what’s happening now. If I had to build my own home again that’s probably the direction I’d go.” he said.
“When I went out on site the other day to see an apprentice, the cost-price of the build was $1.1 million. Two of the others I walked in to were three stories and had lifts in them, the works. It’s great to be able to keep up with what’s going on in the industry.”
Having spent decades in the construction industry, Mark has seen the differences in quality that exist between carpenters. He said he enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to developing good-quality, professional tradespeople.
“Back in my time a lot of tradies were almost looked down on. But now it’s about being presentable, being able to interact well with clients, and I think that’s a good move. We’re out there charging big money, we should be professional about it.”
If he’s not helping to train apprentices or getting back on the tools for another stint, Mark spends most of his time with family. He has three kids. His wife, Deb, also has three. Between them they’re up to five grandkids. While he didn’t have time to follow the footy before coming to Blue Dog, he’s now in the thick of the tipping comp. Mark’s sitting in the middle of the pack for now, but if you’ve ever met a builder, you’d know they’re competitive by nature. Look for Mark to ramp up as the season heads into its second half.
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