18 March 2017
Peter Sauer, a German entrepreneur, moved to the US in 2014 and started his own finish carpentry business in 2016. He has been successful in growing his business, starting out working for someone and now working independen from any company. I interviewed Peter for about 20 minutes and I got some interesting results that I was, and wasn’t expecting.
Pro’s and Con’s
Tough he is his own boss, the job comes with some downsides. The first issue is about holidays. Working for yourself means that the more work you do, the more you get paid. If you don’t do any work, you get nothing. That means Peter has to work all the time to keep earning money. The second issue is about customers. Some people call outside of normal business hours, so Peter has to answer, rather than ignoring possible customers. That can and has started to get annoying, because it is a consistent occurrence.
Although there are a few negatives to the job, the positives are much greater. The best thing is that you make your own hours, and if you work more one week, then you can work less the next. The second positive of the job is the variety of tasks. Peter never gets bored because of the variety in his jobs. He can work on something simple one day, and something completely different the next.
Training for the job
The training for finish carpentry is pretty simple. The first year you go to finish carpentry school. After that, you take two more years of school, and at the same time you have an apprenticeship. There you are at school 40% of the time, and at work 60% of the time.
Previous job considerations
Originally, Peter wanted to be an accountant or work with the German version of UPS. That was changed when he started working in the family workshop started making stuff. Before he was a finish carpenter he worked as a different type of carpenter. He originally was a furniture carpenter in Germany, and he worked out of his family workshop.
Peter tells me that a good carpentry field to start in is Cabinet building, but only with a small company. If you work with a large company, you won’t get the variety of jobs. For new people, getting full education is extremely helpful, and generally mandatory. Practicing a lot is also great so you can get your mistakes out of the way, but you also learn quickly when you make a very expensive and time consuming mistake.
From school, peter has mostly used math. Outside of the standard subjects, he has used CAD and Woodshop. Other than that, he has used everything from trade school.
How has the job changed over the past 10 years?
Carpentry in Germany has advanced so much over the past 10 years. Peter told me that carpentry in the US is like it was in Germany 30 years ago. In Germany, everything is computerized with huge machines. In the future, Peter sees things even more computerized than they are now.
In the end the interview went well, and I learned a lot from peter. I have become more interested in carpentry, and I am honestly considering it as a career now. I am happy that I did this, and I will look into these types of interviews more often.