ASHBURNHAM – Joshua Page is the first to admit he wasn’t a very good student, so much so that he chose to go to trade school because he thought it would be easier than following the more traditional high school route.
“I went to Monty Tech because I hated school and I was never good and I knew I only had to go to school two weeks a month and the other two were in a trade,” he said. recalls Page.
He remembers struggling throughout his apprenticeship years, but enrolling in Montachusett Regional Technical School would prove to be a life-changing decision.
‘I wasn’t very good at school, but the trades really saved me,’ Page said of the educational institution where he was a ‘C and D’ class student in the workshop. of electricity. He graduated in 2002.
Twenty years later, the successful businessman is spreading the word about the benefits of a business education, opting for the non-college route, and how those choices helped him get to where he is today.
He was inspired to draw on his personal experience and write a children’s book, “What Does Your Daddy Do?”, which tells the story of a young boy whose teacher starts a discussion about career week, the prompting him to go home and ask his electrician. dad about what he does.
“Ashton could never have imagined all the really cool things his dad does every day and all the really cool tools he uses,” the book’s description reads.
“This is the first book of its kind and I believe it will really ignite conversations at home and plant the seed in a young mind about other options,” Page said.
He started his own company, JP Electric and Son Inc., out of the basement of his Templeton home in 2011 and the company is now headquartered in Fitchburg.
“My goal was to change the way owners view entrepreneurs,” Page said. “As an industry, we have a bad reputation for not answering ourselves, for not answering the phone, for doing bad work. So, my mission has always been to provide our customers with the best electrical experience possible, from the first phone call to the end of the job. Communication is huge for me and taking care of the customer is our job.
He has been a speaker for the past five years, sharing his own first-hand experience with forgoing college in favor of entering the workforce and putting your business skills to good use.
“After a few years of speaking at career days at area high schools, I felt I wasn’t having an impact big enough and wanted a way to inspire a lot more people,” he said. he declares.
The Templeton native came up with the idea for the book two years ago with the aim of “educating future generations that college isn’t the only option”.
“My thought process was to plant the seed in a younger mind about all the cool things that trades people do and hopefully influence and inspire next generations about trades,” Page said.
His own children – sons Ashton, 13, the book’s main character, and Brody, 8, and his niece Hanna, 17, whom he and his wife Lindsey took on as guardians in 2020, played a role in this. regarding coming up with the concept for the book, and Page said the inspiration behind it came from his wife.
“She owns Little Explorers Daycare in Templeton and when I knew I had to have a bigger impact, I realized I had to influence the younger generations, an age between her daycare and high school,” said Page, adding that he thought kids in grades three through six “would be an ideal audience.”
“She already read the book to her pre-K class, and they loved it, so it’s really made for all ages,” he said. “My thought process was to plant the seed in a younger mind about all the cool things that tradespeople do and hopefully influence and inspire next generations about trades.”
He dedicated “What does your daddy do?” to his “two boys and all future traders in the world” and had a book signing, reading and engagement at the Leominster Barnes & Noble bookstore on August 14.
“The book signing went really well,” Page said. “We sold over 30 books and had a lot of foot traffic. Barnes & Noble will be carrying a few of our books to the shelf and I hope they fall into good hands and inspire and influence at least one child in the trades.
The book, also available on Amazon, is the first in a series he plans to continue.
“My next book will be about a plumber, then a carpenter, a welder, then a cosmetologist,” Page said. “Then as long as it’s successful, the same series but ‘What Does Your Mommy Do?'”
John Drinkwater works with unions across the state as a Workforce Development Specialist for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and said he has made concerted efforts as part of his role to make trades more accessible to girls and women.
The Lowell councilor thinks Page’s book is a great way to encourage young people to enter trades such as plumbing, electrical and other trades, sectors facing staff shortages due of “many workers soon reaching retirement age”.
“I think it’s a great message to spread and a great career path to consider, but it’s not something you get into,” Drinkwater said. “It takes a lot of hard work to get there, so while there are business careers that can support a family, it’s important to know that it takes time not just to gain experience in a trade , but sometimes even to get a foothold in the business. gate. But for those who want it, these doors will open.
Page noted that the average age of an electrician in Massachusetts is 55 and a plumber is 57. He explained how difficult it is to get into Monty Tech these days, as the school’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, leading to competition for a coveted spot.
“I believe a kid like me who wasn’t doing very well in school and didn’t have good grades but needed guidance wouldn’t be accepted into Monty Tech right now and that’s pretty sad,” he said. “The boys and girls who excel in the trades may not fit the mold, but they are so desperately needed in the field right now.”
That’s why it’s important to him to spread the word about trade careers, especially in the face of trade industries that can be quite lucrative in the face of significant labor shortages.
“College is not the only option and I think parents, educators and our school systems need to understand that and stop with the stigma that a job is dirty or uncool,” he said. “Working in a craft is a great way to earn a living, but also the feeling of creating something with your hands and your brain is incredible. I’m very kinesthetic and visual, once I see something or touch it I know how to build it. I think a lot of us in the trades are the same. That’s why traditional teaching doesn’t really work for us because it’s hard to sit in a classroom listening to the teacher’s speech. But when we are able to get our hands on it and visually see things working, we learn much faster.
In addition to JP, the driven businessman owns Ruel Electric, “a company that has been a fixture in Fitchburg and Leominster since 1954”, and Patriot Electric of Concord, which was launched in 1983. Like any good owner of company, Page gives a lot of credit for its success to its dedicated staff.
“I couldn’t do what I do without my phenomenal team of office workers, electricians and future electricians. They are the backbone of the business and I am so proud of what they accomplish every day.
He realizes that Monty Tech has helped him prepare for his burgeoning career and the opportunities it has brought him and is grateful for it.
“Monty Tech gave me the experience, knowledge and confidence to become an electrician,” Page said. “Younger generations need to understand that it’s okay not to go to college and that you don’t need to have a four-year degree to succeed in life. You have to find your passion, take massive action, and never look back.