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Ken Kudela

Ken Kudela Masonry Trades Graduate is Director of The International Union of Bricklayers

Ken Kudela, Masonry Trades, Class of: 1980
Like artists admiring their handiwork, Ken Kudela takes pride in the many Lorain County buildings that have risen from his masonry craftsmanship.

"It's very satisfying, driving around the county and seeing all the buildings I've worked on, knowing that I had a hand in their completion," said Kudela, the Director of the Ohio Administrative District Council-the administrative arm of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

You might say that Kudela was following in his father's footsteps by enrolling in the JVS Masonry program...with a slight twist.

"My father was a union carpenter, so I already knew a lot about construction," affirmed Kudela, whose council oversees 7,000 union members in both Ohio and Kentucky.

"When I told my dad that I wanted to attend the Lorain County JVS, he challenged me to choose a trade that he couldn't teach me," Kudela continued. "Bricklaying intrigued me, and after visiting the school and talking with some of the teachers and students, I knew that masonry was for me."

Kudela credits his JVS instructors for their caring, no-nonsense, straight-forward approach to teaching. "They helped me build a strong foundation for my career and instilled the essential principals and groundwork necessary to succeed in the working world."

"The teachers really cared about their students and stressed proper technique and safety," stated Kudela, who graduated at the top of his class. "But I also learned 'soft skills' like getting to work on time and taking pride in executing every task with precision and accuracy."

Kudela's hands-on, career-technical training included building a split-level house on State Route 20, just west of the school in Oberlin, which still stands today.

"The masonry trades program put me right in the thick of things, like learning to read blueprints," said Kudela, who served as the project's foreman. "We did all the masonry work, including a fireplace and flowerboxes."

After graduating in 1980, Kudela served two years of an apprenticeship with a local company, and then moved to New Orleans, Louisiana when work became difficult to find in Ohio.

"My JVS training kept me working during the slow construction periods," confirmed Kudela, who installed above-ground and built-in swimming pools for almost six years.

After returning to Ohio, Kudela became active in the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers Local 34. He first served as president and then became a field representative when Local 34 merged with Cleveland
Local 5.

He also was the secretary/treasurer for the Ohio Administrative District Council for two years before becoming its director in February of 2009.

Kudela, of Vermilion, feels it's important for community members to be involved with their local schools and is a current Firelands School Board member and a past Lorain County JVS Board of Education member.

"Serving on the JVS Board of Education was my way of giving back to the place where it all started for me," stated a grateful Kudela. "The JVS provides a quality education and career-technical training for all types of students. JVS students learn skills that will keep them working-even in a difficult economy -- and develop the confidence they need to be successful in life."
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