Our mission at I Build America – Ohio is to develop the next generation of the construction workforce. Young men and women across the country are constantly exploring their futures, and we want construction to be part of the conversation. We are doing our part to share the power that a career in construction can have on a young person’s life by sharing the stories of men and women who have chosen construction. We are proud to share the story of Jeff Lawson, a recent graduate of Southern Hills Career Technical Center and new employee at Melvin Stone Company. Lawson might have only just left high school this past spring, but he’s already begun his career in construction.
While other kids his age have begun racking up a mountain of debt as they work toward a traditional college degree, Lawson is already earning great money while doing a job he loves.
“They say that if you don’t go to college, you won’t make good money or have a good job,” said Lawson of the general consensus on career planning. “But it’s the total reverse.”
In fact, he is making more money than most people his age. By completing his welding training at Southern Hills Career Technical Center while still in high school, he has the upper hand for long-term success.
When asked why he selected welding out of all of the career options available, he shared that he was inspired by his father, who is a supervisor of a machine company. Lawson was excited about an engaging career opportunity and motivated by the excellent pay that comes with it.
His education at Southern Hills Career Technical Center began his junior year with the basics. But by senior year he and his classmates were working on big projects, creating hay trailers, a 60×100 barn, and more. This real-world work was what drove Lawson to be better. He was always eager to join the workforce. And while his parents at first saw only a traditional college path for their son, they soon realized the benefit of attending a trade school and learning while working. Since first making the decision to attend Southern Hills Career Technical Center for welding, he has catapulted his career. His work ethic was evident to educators and school leaders from the start
Southern Hills CTC Superintendent Kevin Kratzer said Lawson proved to be very mature and hard working in their welding program. In fact, he was “highly self-motivated to take on projects and help to lead the younger and/or less experienced students.”
While in his senior year of high school, Lawson attended a job fair hosted by Jurgensen. After meeting with representatives from the company, he interviewed for a co-op position with Melvin Stone Company at a very unexpected yet incredibly relevant interview location: a stone quarry.
Melvin Stone Company is a Jurgensen Company, which has an impressive reputation for high-quality work in all types of construction projects across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
Melvin Stone Company, established in 1919, got its start supplying material to the CCC Highway, one of the first major roads to connect Cincinnati to Cleveland. Today, the company gives the opportunity for young people to start a career path unlike any other.
“It’s a family type operation, so turnover is generally rare,” said Sam Lansing, Superintendent at Melvin Stone Company.
Lansing saw Lawson’s potential just by how he carried himself.
“He was [a little] old school,” he shared. “I liked what I saw.”
And a few months after the interview, Lawson found himself immersed in the trade, operating heavy equipment, doing some welding work, and more.
Initially, Lawson was brought in for welding, a relatively minor task for Melvin Stone Company, but for Lawson, it proved to be a meaningful opportunity. It was in that role that he saw a powerful breakthrough for both his technical skills and his professional development. Almost immediately after starting night operations, the team at Melvin Stone Company saw the sense of responsibility Lawson had found. Shortly after, Lansing put Lawson on a loader, and he immediately took pride in every step of the work.
“He’s curious. He’s hungry,” Lansing said. “He wants to know more.”