Construction As a Second Career
A onetime barber turns to construction work
Shariel Sanchez was a barber for roughly the first 15 years of his working life. “I think if I never would have let my barber license expire, I would’ve kept doing it, but it just got old sometimes,” he recalls.
So 20 years ago, he made the switch to construction, first starting out as a laborer. That transition was a smooth one, aided by the fact that Sanchez’s father had been in construction as well, giving him some familiarity with the business.
Nearly three years ago, Sanchez joined Chamberlin after his brother, who already worked for the firm, told him to come on over.
During his time with Chamberlin and through working with various colleagues over the years, Sanchez has picked up a variety of skills. He now works as a waterproofer and caulker, doing “pretty much everything Chamberlin offers,” he says.
The company has been good to him, Sanchez says, and while he hasn’t thought about going anywhere else, “I know they’ve got a lot of other opportunities, so I will weigh my options with them before I do anything else.”
While construction is certainly a difficult field to be in, he says, with negatives being the heat and consistently dirty clothes, Sanchez notes that it can sometimes be fun. Perhaps the best part of his job comes at the end, “when you’re working and you see the finished product and what you have created—it means something,” he says.
Of all the jobs he has been a part of thus far, Sanchez recalls a paver project in Tyler, Texas, as one of his most interesting but it is also where Sanchez was injured on the job. While other workers were raising scaffolds, a jammed board dislodged a piece of rebar, which fell from six to eight stories up, striking Sanchez in his neck and shoulder.
“I was on workmen’s comp for a while,” he says. “I still get a little pain, but it’s bearable. It comes and goes. They gave me steroid shots to try to heal the muscle I tore in my shoulder.”
Still, he says his body is holding up. “I guess when you get to a certain age, it doesn’t heal as it did when you were younger, but I’m still able to do the things that I do. You go through it, and everything’s okay,” he says.
Despite that experience, Sanchez says he definitely feels safe on the job. And while Sanchez hopes to retire one day, he feels his current wage makes that prospect a difficult one.
“I have a family—I have a home that I have to take care of—so I have to make ends meet,” he says. “I don’t see why you shouldn’t get the pay you deserve.”
Away from the jobsite, Sanchez says he enjoys time with his family, his grandchildren especially.
“We’re trying to buy a home and we’re at a place where we want to try and buy, but sometimes you have to crawl before you walk, so we’re seeing how things go,” he says. “I’m trying to build a future for my grandkids.”
Looking ahead, Sanchez says he aspires to perhaps be a foreman or superintendent at some point in his career. “If there’s the opportunity where I can develop and go further at Chamberlin, I wouldn’t mind,” he says. “They’ve got great people that you can work for.”
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