Our programs prepare you for jobs that employers are trying to fill — both locally and nationally. While many young people are finding it difficult to move forward with their careers, CTE graduates find themselves in demand.

Constructing a Career

Monday, April 01, 2019

Alex Wilcox (left) holding a coping saw with John Coffinger (right). After learning the technique in class, coping is one of Wilcox’s favorite things to do.

Alex Wilcox, a 2008 graduate of South Glens Falls High School, will tell anyone that the Construction Trades program gave him a solid foundation for his future. Recently, he paid the program’s Instructor, John Coffinger, a visit at the Southern Adirondack Education Center to share his successes, talk about industry trends, and give current students a little advice.

Right out of high school, Wilcox was hired by Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs to work as a sweeper, cleaning job sites. “A clean job site is a productive job site," said Wilcox. "It was entry-level, a stepping stone.”  

At 19 years old, he became a supervisor, while also taking courses at SUNY Adirondack in Construction Management and Business Management. After working for Bonacio Construction for 3 ½ years, he started his own business, ACW Family Builders. 

Wilcox shared photos of different jobs his company has worked on, both new construction and renovations, playing the role of general contractor, and also a subcontractor for larger builders. His passion is millwork and a large part of his business now is kitchen installations. 

He has worked on over 360 kitchens and often does work for Saratoga Signature Kitchens. 

He told the class that he places a high value on customer service and his reputation has earned him many referrals.  

While reflecting on his time at CTE, Wilcox said he loved working on the modular house project. “The hands-on aspect was great. That feeling of accomplishment, knowing that someone would live in it, it was special.” He noted, “It was a cool how the teachers related subjects to the construction field, and you need that.” 

Wilcox told the class,  “you can get every little ounce out of what Mr. Coffinger is teaching you if you pay attention.”  He also spoke on the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). "Everything relates back to safety. ‘Wear your PPE all the time!'  I remember Mr. Coffinger drilling that into us."

John Coffinger says it is rewarding to hear such positive feedback from his former student.  Wilcox and Coffinger are working on plans to do more collaboration, so students have even more hands-on and real-world experience. “It is great that Alex wants to give back and influence students,” says Coffinger. 

With many skilled workers retiring,  the construction industry is in need of young talent. Wilcox says that if the work ethic is there, the earning potential is tremendous.