Tue | Dec 12, 2017

'With a trade I will never go hungry'

Published:Thursday | October 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMShanna-Kaye Monteith
Doors made by Johnson on display at his shop in Yallahs

Copeland Johnson, more popularly known as 'Carl' or 'Babylon' has made at least one piece of furniture in every house in the community of Yallahs in St. Thomas.

Giving an account of how he got started in the trade, Johnson, who was a security guard at one time, recalled stopping by a friend's workshop in the evenings after he had finished working.

Approximately three weeks later, the then 20-odd-year-old was able to make everything, from a nightstand to a whatnot.

"I was trained in welding, so I already had a good understanding of measurements. All I needed to learn was how to cut and assembly the joints," he recounted.

Johnson told Rural Xpress that though his interest in the trade was initially based on curiosity and a desire to 'kill some extra time', his new knowledge soon became his sole source of survival.

"My life changed suddenly and there arose a need for me to take care of my family, and I realised that woodwork was the faster and probably more profitable method of earning at the time," Johnson related. He bought two pieces of tool that he thought were necessarya plane and a saw.

 

Steady progression

 

"After buying them and starting to work, ambition opened my eyes and made me realise that I needed other tools to do the work well, so each time I sold a piece, I bought the required machinery," he said.

"I also borrowed a microloan and bought a joiner and a circular saw; and, from then, I moved on to build myself into what I am now."

Johnson's first piece of work was a dresser that he made for a relative and, although it was done for free, he revealed that it opened the door to many other opportunities. He later moved on from making furniture and focused on building doors and various fixtures, including cupboards.

Referring to his prominence as a maker of doors, the 54-year-old explained that the types he build require much time and skill, and that other tradesmen tended to stay away from making them.

Johnson, who can still be found at any given day of the week working at his shop in Pondside, says the best encouragement he can give to young people is to learn a trade.

"Whether you are educated or not, it is important to have a trade, because anyone who does can never go hungry. There will always be a need for you and the service you offer," the skilled woodworker pointed out.

"We have too many lazy young men on the road giving trouble. If they should just take six months and pay some attention or spend some time at a trade shop, then their lives will change.

They wouldn't have to envy anybody, because they would be able to provide for themselves and their families," Johnson declared.