January 18, 2021 | Bill Esler
By Rich Christianson
Richard Memory receives a bonus from Michael Corrigan (left), General Manager of Jefferson Millwork for earning the WCA’s Gold credential.
STERLING, VA – Richard Memory of Jefferson Millwork & Design has become the first professional woodworker awarded a Gold credential by the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA).
Memory grew his skills, advancing his career at Jefferson Millwork through a training program structured around the Woodwork Career Alliance’s skill standards. WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of skill standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 300 woodworking machine operations.
WCA has issued more than 3,000 credentials – a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 140 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members and a growing number of woodworking companies have joined the WCA as MANufacturing™ members.
Memory’s journey to secure the WCA Gold credential took three years, starting in 2017 when Jefferson Millwork signed up as a WCA MANufacturing member. The company implemented the Woodwork Career Alliance Passport credentialing system as the backbone for training apprentice woodworkers. Memory was one of the company’s first hires to participate in the program.
To achieve the WCA’s Gold credential, Memory had to meet the following criteria:
In addition to the Gold credential award recognition, Memory received a bonus check and a pay raise tied to Jefferson Millwork’s training program.In fall 2019, Memory was the first woodworking pro to earn the WCA’s Red credential.
Memory completed this occasional table of oak and walnut, as part of his WCA Gold Credential Project.
Memory successfully designed and created an occasional table made with oak and walnut veneered MDF and solid oak and walnut. The tabletop was constructed using 3/4-inch solid walnut arranged in a herring-bone pattern.
“I asked him to make something that he would be proud to have in his home,” said Chuck Buck, shop foreman of Jefferson Millwork and an accredited skill evaluator of the WCA. Memory painstakingly made a herringbone top out of scrap materials from the shop.
“He did a tremendous job,” said Buck. “I’m especially proud of the problem-solving skills he displayed, not only showing an understanding of what works but of what works best.”
Buck himself is in this eighth year with Jefferson Millwork. Buck said the WCA’s credentialing system provides a solid foundation for the 20-man shop’s training program.
“It forces a higher level of training that goes beyond teaching employees on-a-need-to-know basis that is typical of what I’ve seen in my career,” Buck said. “Too often an employee only gets trained to do something when you find that he doesn’t know how to do it.” Buck attributes that to a “day-to-day mindset” of getting the product out. “Time isn’t devoted to teaching what’s necessary for that employee to fully develop his skill sets and make decisions on his own. Our training program makes us make time for that interaction,” Buck said.
Greg Heuer, secretary of the WCA, presented Memory his Gold credential certificate, pin and patch during a ceremony held on Jefferson Millwork’s shop floor attended by company managers and fellow employees.
“Until 2007, woodworkers like everyone here had no nationally recognized path to demonstrate their progress and achievements,” Heuer said.
Memory, who had no previous woodworking experience before joining Jefferson Millwork, said he is humbled by his latest achievement.
“I never expected to be the first one to earn the Gold credential,” Memory said. “It’s very exciting. The WCA’s credentialing program helped me master tools and develop confidence to take on creative projects that I never thought I would be able to do before both here at work and at home.”
Having successfully fulfilled the requirements for WCA’s Green, Blue, Red and Gold credentials, Memory has his sights set on Diamond, the top of the WCA five-tiered credentialing program.
About the Woodwork Career Alliance: The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of Skill Standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 300 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued more than 3,000 credentials, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 140 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members and a growing number of woodworking companies have joined the WCA as MANufacturing™ members. woodworkcareer.org.
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