Foreperson Training Instructor

Matt Nicolaysen

Matt’s journey in the trade began as a means to fund his college education. After spending three months as a Technician Trainee, he was approached by his company with the opportunity to become an apprentice. Despite initially envisioning an office-based career, Matt discovered he had a passion for building things. Contrary to prevalent negative stereotypes associated with trades, Matt shares how his perception underwent a positive transformation. “I worked under an eclectic group of intelligent, fiercely hard working, ethical journey workers who made one person’s vision into a reality for another person’s use.” These mentors, with their practical skills, transformed visions into tangible realities with a combination of foresight, mechanical aptitude, thoughtfulness, diplomacy, and determination. Matt found satisfaction in witnessing something tangible exist at the end of the day that was merely an idea in the morning.

Joining Local 206 in 1989, Matt started in the Sheet Metal JATC San Diego apprenticeship program. Completing the five-year training program, he earned his journey card in 1994.

Looking back, Matt considers himself doubly blessed. He was fortunate to be an apprentice for a large company that exposed him to various aspects of the sheet metal trade, from ground-up construction of high-rises to the mechanical phase of tenant improvement. Additionally, being a union apprentice provided formal training that complemented his field experiences. The valuable hands-on training and formal education helped Matt develop his abilities into skills. He found the instructors at the union apprenticeship to be professional sheet metal workers who inspired students to become true professionals in the trade.

Over the years, he held various titles, from Apprentice to Superintendent, contributing to companies like Critchfield Mechanical Inc., Harris and Hart, A.O. Reed, TESTCO, University Mechanical, Jackson and Blanc.

In 2005, Matt began teaching at the Sheet Metal JATC San Diego, relishing the opportunity to contribute to the program’s tradition of producing skilled, professional sheet metal workers. Teaching became a source of joy for Matt, especially witnessing the moment when understanding finally clicks for his students.

Reflecting on his career, Matt highlights the 1994 Intel Expansion in New Mexico as the most memorable project due to its sheer size. The sight of five buses shuttling workers from the parking lot to the site, coupled with the largest crane pick and air handler assembly, left an indelible mark on him.

Outside of work, Matt finds enjoyment in camping, travel, house remodeling, and whatever else his wife deems fun for him.

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