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The Framers Come First in Construction Projects

As a framing foreman for Davis Bros. Construction, Mike Forrest supervises anywhere from 10 to 70 workers, depending on the size of the project.

“My job is to provide the manpower and push to get the work done,” Forrest said. .

He decided on a construction career because his father was a carpenter and he thought it looked like an easy way to make a living. “But it didn’t take long for me to find out that this is actually a lot of hard work,” said Forrest, 36.

“The framers are responsible for the structural integrity of the building. All of the other trades come in behind us, so our work has to be exact or it throws everyone else off.

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“Right now we’re working on 44 homes in California Cortina, a new home development in Dana Point. So we have to pay attention and stay consistent with the model, since that’s the kind of house the consumer agreed to buy.”

“When I was in high school, I did not think much about subjects like algebra and geometry since I never thought I would use them. But in construction, math skills come into play in almost everything.”

Another skill that Forrest finds helpful is knowing how to motivate his crews, “which in my case is a little easier because I’m fortunate to have a good group of workers.

“But sometimes you have to pacify people and be responsible for all of the expectations that management has to keep the project on track.”

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OCCUPATION: Construction foreman

* What’s involved: Construction foremen supervise groups of workers building homes or other structures. In most cases, they oversee a single aspect of the work, such as framing, roofing or drywall installation. They are responsible for staffing and the quality of work performed by their crews.

* Qualifications: Many construction foremen learn their trade through union-sponsored apprentice programs. Most have at least a high school diploma and some have taken college courses, but the bulk of their construction training takes place on the job.

* Outlook: By 1998, the number of construction foremen is projected to increase by 8.9%, to 2,580.

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* Salary range: $30,000 to $45,000 per year

* Pros: Construction foremen enjoy working outdoors and report satisfaction from seeing a building project through from start to finish.

* Cons: Construction work usually starts very early in the morning, requiring workers to rise as early as 4 a.m. if they have to commute a long way to the work site. Bad weather can also delay progress for long periods.

* Advancement: Construction foremen may advance to project superintendent or to other administrative positions such as vice president of operations.

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* Quote: “The guys on my crew are among the best in Southern California. Framing is a huge teamwork, effort and they work really hard.”

--Mike Forrest Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times


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