Enzo Perfetto, the 2012 president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland and manager of Enzoco Homes, is reaching out to enlighten students about careers in the homebuilding industry.
Enzo Perfetto, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland and manager of Enzo Homes (far left); Mike Foor, a camp instructor (back left); electrician Rudy Novak (back right); Chris Stricklett, camp and construction trades instructor for Cuyahoga Valley Career center (far right), and the campers.
“When I became president, one of my two main agendas was to further the education of kids who want to get into the homebuilding industry or the trades. But what we’ve realized is that most colleges don’t really have a lot of opportunities for kids who want to learn heating, cooling, electrical, and things like that,” said Perfetto. “One thing led to another and I heard about Cuyahoga Valley Career Center’s programs in home building and the trades.” The class visits Perfetto visited Cuyahoga Valley Career Center early this year and had the opportunity to go to many of the school’s classes. “I started with electrical and went to the framing, heating, and drafting classes. I got to speak to each of the classes and had the opportunity to let the kids know that there’s a huge future in the construction industry,” he said. “I was just talking to my electrician and he said that there is a huge demand for good, qualified trades that know their field. The majority of students today are going into professional fields like accounting. I wanted to stress to these kids that having a successful future doesn’t always mean that you have to have a college degree. There are plenty of kids out there that that’s not their thing. I’m the perfect example of that. “I want to stress that the building industry and the trades are as professional as it gets. What I want to do is raise the level of awareness that, semantics aside, this field is just as demanding and important as college degreed fields. In fact, it may be even more important because there is such a dwindling pool of actual talent that can do these jobs. This is where you have to put your work boots on, get out in the field, and produce something. It’s vital because you can’t outsource or automate home construction. And we need homes in our nation.” Perfetto also let the kids know that housing is on the rebound and things are picking up. “I told them to stay the course because they will be in big demand in the very near future,” he said. After each of the classes, Perfetto had the opportunity to talk to each of the instructors. They said, “It would be really great if our summer campers could visit a home under construction and see, firsthand, what goes on at the job sites?” Perfetto jumped on the opportunity and invited two classes out to a home that he is building in Chesterland. The summer camp The summer camp brings together seventh, eighth and ninth graders for 30 hours over a one-week time period. The students have the opportunity to build an Adirondack chair and a nice footrest to get them interested in construction and using hand and power tools. “By bringing them out to the home, the students had the opportunity to see that the trades still do exist,” said Mike Foor, an industrial tech teacher at Independence High School and a teacher of the summer camp program. “It’s really nice because it’s a great opportunity to get females interested in the trades, as well. There really is a high need for women in the industry, and it’s a great opportunity for a rewarding career,” said Chris Stricklett, construction trades instructor at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. Stricklett boasted about the summer camp. “I love teaching these kids. It’s a really great time. The kids are really proud and the parents are extremely proud when they see the finished chair and footrest. These kids do all of the work themselves. They cut and fashion all of the parts. We don’t have a stack of pieces that they just assemble. They make, cut and sand every part with the machines.” “It’s so nice, too, because so many industrial tech programs with traditional woodshops have been totally eliminated from schools. This is the first exposure that these kids get using a saw and working with their hands,” Foor said. According to Stricklett, the summer camp has continually fed students into his program at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. “It definitely generates the students’ interest in construction.” The on-site home construction visit Thirty-six students had the opportunity to visit Perfetto’s home site. He provided the students with a quick 101 of the homebuilding industry and how a vacant lot ends up with a home on it. He explained where customers come from by sharing a story about his current buyers for the home in Chesterland. “I told the campers that 30 days ago, this piece of land was a vacant lot. We had a customer who lived across the street that toured our model home. We started negotiating and I presented a design that I created myself. We went back and forth on design, priced it out, they agreed on a price, and they signed a contract. In this instance, the homeowner bought the lot, which is the norm 50 percent of the time, and they obtained financing. We then pulled the permits, cleared the lot, and started construction. I explained how the whole chain of events happens in terms of construction. The students had the opportunity to then tour the home.” The home is a 2,000 square-foot colonial with a first-floor master. It’s a custom-designed home that was adapted from one of Enzoco Homes’ previously built floor plans. During the visit, Perfetto also explained the direction of the industry, how much opportunity is out there, and more. According to Perfetto, the instructors really wanted to put a face to what these kids were learning at the camp. “My electrician says that every time he hires, his first preference goes to schools like Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. These are young adults who are trained professionally and who are disciplined. These campers are a true testament to that. They are devoting their summer to going to classes, visiting job sites, and learning the correct way to take on building. The kids that come out of these career-based schools are the cream of the crop,” he stated. Future plans Perfetto hopes to offer this opportunity to other career centers and students over the coming year. “I gave the students who visited handouts and all of my contact information. If they ever want to come back out to a site or want to ask me a question, I want to be their quasi-mentor for down the road to keep them encouraged about this industry. “This has really become my pet project. I want to, in my own little way, advance and help out as much as I can. I’m encouraging my trades that if they are ever looking for candidates or apprentices go to the Career Centers. This is near and dear to my heart. It’s the opportunity that I was given at a young age through my father to get into the industry. I just want to give back,” he said.