Jack of his trade

FOR a 22-year-old, this kid doesn’t sit around or rest on his success. And Jack Wilson’s success is serious stuff: The New Norfolk native has just been named Apprentice of the Year at the Tasmanian Training Awards. He goes to Adelaide in a few weeks to represent Tasmania at the national awards.

“Jack was spotted in Year 10 by his teachers,” says Kelvin Derksen-Luelf of Crusader Homes, where Jack’s undertaken his apprenticeship over the past three years. “They said he was creative, skilled with his hands. They were right: his craftsmanship, attention to detail, is evident in his work. We set him up with an apprenticeship and a basic set of tools, and he’s done everything else himself, really put the work in.”

The piece of work that demonstrated Jack’s talents to the judges of the Tasmanian Training Awards is a series of stylish shelving units for the Gourmet Social Club, the retail end of another local company, New Norfolk Distillery. “Being a retail store, it’s an indoor environment,” Jack said about planning the units. “We decided to use medium density fibreboard because it lends itself to a fine, smooth finish. It was a good decision, and it’s especially gratifying to see my work there on display, and at the same time, displaying the work of someone else.” Jack is referring to the selection of foods and drinks, almost all locally produced, now stacked in the brightly coloured units he built for the tasting bar, specialty food and beverage store on High Street in New Norfolk.

“It was a good process, three weeks’ work from design to completion,” says Jack. The project was undertaken at the Crusader workshop in New Norfolk.

Crusader Homes is a family-owned New Norfolk company that builds about 25 homes a year in the Derwent Valley and Brighton. Crusader is actively involved in workforce education, including support for defence force cadets, considered by employers as highly desirable training. Crusader takes its in-house education seriously. The company has been a finalist or winner of Small Employer of the Year multiple times since 2016 and took the national title at the Australian Training Awards in 2019. It has also featured prominently at the Telstra Business Awards. “We really want to make a difference to youth employment, and that determination is working: we’ve had a high success rate,” says Kelvin.

Jack started out with a six-piece Makita cordless tool set, and that’s evolved to triple the size. Like most tradies, Jack knows and likes tools: he’s just bought himself a mitre saw, a versatile tool that does straight and fancy cuts for joinery work.

And before representing New Norfolk – and Tasmania – at the Australian Training Awards in November, Jack’s going for his RSA (responsible serving of alcohol) ticket as well. He just might be thinking about a useful sideline to what promises to be a successful building career.