13 influencers bringing construction to the masses
Plumbers, electricians, woodworkers and all-around tinkerers. Their skills and charisma have built a following.
Influencers are on the front lines of culture, advocating for construction by being its face.
For the uninitiated, they showcase what the industry is actually like and highlight what makes it great. For the initiated they offer solidarity by sharing their own struggles and help them improve with their wisdom.
Some of the faces on this list you will know, but many of them are so niche that they may have slipped past your radar or they have just begun to take off. If you want high quality construction content and commentary, these are some of the people to follow.
McMillian is a complete and total kicker of ass. Not only is she the founder and primary spokesperson of KickAss Careers, she is a motivational speaker, journeyman ironworker, apprentice boilermaker, outreach specialist and author. Is there anything she can’t do? McMillian spends roughly 30 weeks a year providing keynote presentations and workshops to more than 50,000 students, parents, educators and employers each year across North America. There isn’t enough space to list all the things she does, but it’s important to note she has a cat named Spud Wrench.
The Essential Craftsman
The Essential Craftsman is like that uncle you never had who always knows the smartest way to solve a problem, has hands like thick leather gloves and always seems to finish work early despite never rushing. Scott will teach you how to properly sharpen your chainsaw, the trick to wrapping extension cords and why nails are better than screws when it comes to resisting shear. This is a man that has the confidence of decades in the industry.
Tymosko, aka “Lady Voltz”, is a social media whiz. How many electrical apprentices do you know with a TikTok account? The Hamilton, Ont. tradeswoman is constantly producing content showing the daily life of an electrical apprentice, giving her thoughts on tools and encouraging other women in the industry. She is an ambassador for various brands and offers her services as a motivational speaker.
Likely the most famous person on this list – and for good reason. Special effects guru Adam Savage became famous for his long run as a host for “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel. But long after the show ended, he’s been a staple of the maker community, teaching aspiring builders how to use a lathe, the benefits of jigs for a table saw and why his hammer is so extensive. What drew me in to his channel wasn’t his Star Wars props or cosplay builds. It was years-long journey to hone his machining accuracy to within a few thousandths of an inch. His entire channel is a love letter to tools and the possibilities they present. Heck, he loves tools so much he even makes his own.
When it comes to intersection of technology and construction, it’s hard to find someone more passionate than Benham. His company JB Knowledge created SmartBid, SmartCompliance, SmartReality and SmartInsight software and mobile apps for construction and risk management. He also launched The Con Tech Crew podcast, wrote a book about how to grow your business and is a sought after speaker.
This man loves to get dirty. Witt, a self-described “Chief Dirt Nerd”, is completely cuckoo for huge machines and what they can do. In 2018 he quit his job to photograph construction and mining projects across the U.S.
“While I didn’t grow up in the dirt world, I’ve been drawn to it like a bear to honey since my sixth birthday party at our local Caterpillar dealership,” he said.
His company BuildWitt has morphed into people-centric media, services, and software dedicated to making the earth moving sector a better place.
“By that, I mean inspiring the next generation, modernizing how blue-collar companies invest in their people, and educating society on what it takes to meet their basic needs,” wrote Witt.
Sherry has not only followed her father, Mike Holmes, into the trades. She also is a TV star and social media personality in her own right, advocating the trades and helping viewers out with common contracting problems. She also mentors young women through Conestoga College’s Jill of All Trades and acts as an ambassador for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Women Build event, a program that calls on women to help build stronger, safer communities.
Matt does indeed bang wood. His YouTube channel, which boasts 286,000 subscribers, offers insight into his job sites, tricks for other contractors and highlights how technology performs in the field. One of his recent videos walks aspiring contractors through how start finding, bidding and winning work. His most popular video, with 3 million views, simply teaches the most common framing methods.
Since 2015 Bowcott has been running her all-female company, Westcom Plumbing and Gas Ltd., on Vancouver Island. She’s a journeyman plumber, class B gasfitter, and certified steep-slope roofer. On Instagram, where she is known as @the_ladyplumber, she opines on tankless water heaters, shows how to adjust a gas range and gushes over her favourite tools. Bowcott is already an icon for the industry. In 2019 she was named Construction Person of the Year by the Canadian Construction Association and is a founding member B.C. Tradeswomen Association. The business owner even finds time to visit Girl Guides’ events to inspire the next generation of tradespeople.
While everyone knows Rowe from his hit TV show “Dirty Jobs” where he highlighted the everyday working people who keep society moving, but following it’s nine season run, he’s become a fierce advocate for trades careers. He started the mikeroweWORKS Foundation which champions blue collar jobs and calls for government to rebuild America’s infrastructure. He is often using his platform to elevate blue collar leaders so they can share their wisdom.
This is one of my guilty pleasures – watching master woodworkers craft massive tables I could never hope to afford. Much of the drama centres around the skill it takes to transform these rare hunks of live edge slabs into the client’s piece. The slabs often costs thousands so the stakes are high. You also get to learn the difference between softwoods and hardwoods, the best tools for prepping a piece and how to prevent common woodworking injuries.
If you like your construction content with a Texas drawl and filtered through a handlebar mustache, Roger Wakefield is your man. Known as “The Expert Plumber”, Wakefield shares plumbing tips and tricks, DIY plumbing, how to become a plumber videos and more to help you grow as a plumber or save some money if you’re a homeowner. He has more than 40 years experience and he wants to help get people into the trades and help them build successful careers.
Forget “The Lord of the Rings”. One of the greatest epics of all time is Furze’s months-long slog to dig a series of secret tunnels beneath his home. The amount of engineering, problem solving and determination to pull off just that project alone is astounding. Furze school at 16 to start his journey to become a plumber – a career he worked at until 2011. That’s when his content making career took off. His goal is simple: inspire the audience to get up and make something.