When trying to pursue a career in the trades, it’s often times all about who you know. And for drywall, a trade virtually never offered in a classroom setting, the craft may appear out of reach…until now. “There are so many different ways to drywall and it can even change based on what region of the country you are located,” says Lydia Crowder, also known under her professional moniker, Dry Wall Shorty. Having grown up with her father who is an accomplished drywaller, Lydia has a lifetime of exposure to the trade. With decades of experience, she is passionate about elevating her profession and finding ways to continue mastering her skills. So when M.T. Copeland, a platform providing online courses for trades, reached out to her to teach a drywall course, Lydia generously and enthusiastically responded to the call. We caught up with Lydia to learn more about this phenomenal video series and what people can expect to get out of her comprehensive crash course on drywall.
Q: YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING PROFESSIONALLY AS A DRYWALLER FOR 18 YEARS BUT YOUR EXPOSURE TO THE TRADE BEGAN MUCH EARLIER ON JOB SITES WITH YOUR FATHER. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES AND HOW IT INFLUENCED YOU TO BECOME THE SUCCESS YOU ARE TODAY?
DWS- My dad would take me with him to small jobs on the weekends. I remember getting to hang out with him, learn something fun, and play around with the drywall mud. They were always fun days full of new and different experiences. It was such a great environment when I was an adult it made sense to continue down the same career path. I think those early fun experiences led me to have a fun experience at work and enjoy the company of those around me and the fun of creating something every day.
BADASS FACT! While working for her father, Lydia brought her husband into the drywall business shortly after they started dating. Now, they run their own business and together they finish over 500,000+ sq ft of board a year! photo credit: @drywallshorty
Q: HOW DID YOU LEARN TO DRYWALL? WERE THERE CLASSES AVAILABLE TO YOU OR WAS ALL OF YOUR TRAINING ON THE JOB?
DWS- I learned from on the job training. When I decided college wasn't the right career path for me I started working for my dad full time. He at the time had a crew of 5 full time finishers that I learned with. They took the time to teach me the basics and hone my skills. I still learn new ways to do things from finishers with more experience or that finish differently from me. Its a career where you can always be learning and improving!
Q: YOU HAVE DONE TREMENDOUS WORK BRINGING MORE AWARENESS TO DRYWALLING AS A REWARDING PROFESSION. HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE RECOGNIZED BY M.T. COPELAND WHEN THEY REACHED OUT TO YOU TO HOST THIS TRAINING SERIES?
DWS- It was absolutely amazing! Being a woman in the trade and being asked to teach a comprehensive drywall course was huge. I wanted to make sure I put all of my passion for drywall, knowledge and education into the course. I studied, researched, and did my best to give a very comprehensive course.
Q: YOU HAVE AN AMAZING FOLLOWING OF OVER 100K FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM. ANYONE FOLLOWING YOUR PAGE CAN EXPECT TO FIND A TON OF EDUCATIONAL POSTS AND VIDEOS. WHAT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CAN YOUR FOLLOWERS EXPECT TO FIND THROUGH THIS SERIES AND HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AS AN INFLUENCER AFFECT HOW YOU STRUCTURED YOUR M.T. COPELAND COURSE?
DWS- The series with M.T. Copeland really allowed me to dig DEEP into finishing. My outline for the course was 40 pages and took me a month to write. I dug deep into the history of drywall, materials we use and why. What the tools do, tips and tricks professionals know and use to get those pro finishes. I walk you through as much as I can to help the DIYer through the professional. Social media really helped me to understand what questions people have about finishing. The daily dm's and questions about how to hang, what materials to use, and tool questions are all answered in the course along with so much more. Those daily interactions helped guide me along a lesson plan that I knew would help almost everyone and something that could be referenced time and time again.
Q:THE SERIES IS A SORT OF "PRE-APPRENTICESHIP" FOR PEOPLE INTERESTED IN GETTING INTO THE DRYWALL PROFESSION. WHAT TYPE OF SKILLS CAN SOMEONE EXPECT TO OBTAIN THROUGH TAKING THESE CLASSES AND WHO ELSE MIGHT BENEFIT FROM A CRASH COURSE ON DRYWALL?
DWS- The course goes through so much - what materials to use all the way through hand taping and finishing. It really is useful for anyone. Anyone from builders to diyers will get a better understanding of what goes into a drywall finish. The courses includes how to prep the site for drywall, finish options, how to hand tape, mud mixing, how to use automatic tools and what drywall compounds to choose for what you're trying to accomplish. My goal was to get as much information as possible into this course and really help people with a industry that can be pretty secretive.
Q: MOVE OVER BOB IS ALL ABOUT DISSEMINATING INSPIRATION AND RESOURCES TO WOMEN INTERESTED IN PURSUING A JOURNEY INTO CONSTRUCTION AND YOUR INSTRUCTIONAL SERIES IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, EXACTLY THE KIND OF ACCESS WOMEN ARE LOOKING FOR. OUTSIDE OF SOLVING THIS HURTLE FOR WOMEN WITH LIMITED RESOURCES, WHAT OTHER PROBLEMS DO YOU THINK A WOMAN MIGHT FACE TRYING TO PURSUE THIS CAREER AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM TO OVERCOME THOSE OBSTACLES?
DWS- Something that I've come to realize over all the years in construction is I will never part of the "guys club". Being a woman you can absolutely be successful, respected and a leader in the trade but it will always be a bit different. You might get questioned a bit more on your decisions or people might come in and try to show you how it's done. Those are things I can not control but I can control doing good work, being a professional and giving my all every day. When I was a couple years into the trade I thought I knew everything - I would argue, not take advice and be offended if someone tried to show me something new. And one of the best things I've done is listen and learn from others. Don't stunt your own growth by not learning or listening to advice from others. And don't be afraid to ask for help, especially if you're not sure how to do something. It's much easier to fix a mistake before its made.
Q: YOU HAVE EXPRESSED YOUR PASSION FOR ELEVATING DRYWALLERS' REPUTATION WITHIN THE TRADES. HOW DO YOU THINK PEOPLES' PERCEPTION OF DRYWALLERS HAVE BEEN THROUGHOUT THE LAST FEW DECADES AND HOW IS YOUR TRAINING SERIES SMASHING NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES AND CELEBRATING THE TRADE?
DWS- Drywallers unfortunately are usually seen as some of the roughest on site. The job is hard, it takes a lot of time to get good at and most people quit within a few months. It used to be looked at as a craft - something that takes skills and was completed by a true master craftsman. Now with the building demands and labor shortage it's moved to how cheap and fast can we get this job completed. But cheap and fast aren't good and we as a trade have allowed it to deteriorate. In order to change we all have to learn, not settle for bad quality, educate builders and homeowners on the process and what goes into a good finish. It's up to us to change the perception, educate others on the process and not settle for less.
Q: LASTLY, IF YOU HAD TO GIVE A WOMAN ONE SINGLE PIECE OF ADVICE ON SURVIVING THE CONSTRUCTION WORLD AS A DRYWALLER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
DWS- Don't be afraid to ask questions - if you're unsure about the process ask. I know I would rather take a couple minutes to help or answer a question than take hours fixing something later. And don't let the bad days get you down, we all have them. What makes you successful is never giving up and showing up and doing your best every day.
CHECK OUT THIS PREVIEW BELOW AND GO TO M.T. COPELAND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS INSTRUCTIONAL SERIES!