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ments – which include four years of on-the-job experience – he’ll be eligible to become a journeyman carpenter. “I worked with three journeymen (at Northwestern Mutual) and those three guys that trained me were some of the best that I worked with so far in my career,” LaVigne said. “A lot of apprentices don’t get to work with a guy who takes the time to actually teach them. That’ll be a lasting impression from the job.” Brandi Archambeau-Fisher also considers herself fortunate that the Northwestern Mutual tower was her first job site as an aspiring electrical apprentice. After working for We Energies in the collections department, Archambeau-Fisher, 30, decided she’d rather be working in the field than in the office. She started working on the Northwestern Mutual tower in 2016 as a material handler delivering parts to electricians, then moved up to wiring fire alarms and setting up Internet and phone lines. The day-to-day work on the tower was grueling at times, particularly in the dead of Wisconsin winter. “It’s real cold when you’re up on the 20th floor,” LaVigne said. But braving the elements was worth it, and LaVigne says he feels a sense of pride when he drives by Milwaukee’s second-tallest tower today with his wife and 16-month-old son. Many of the Milwaukeeans who worked on the Northwestern Mutual jobsite have found sustained work in the construction industry. Both LaVigne and Archambeau-Fisher are at work now on the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. LaVigne works for Wall-tech Inc. and continues to frame and build fire-rated walls. Archambeau-Fisher works in material handling for Staff Electric Co. Inc. and on the distribution crew in the arena’s switchgear room. She is also studying for the entrance exam to become an electrical apprentice. As a single mother, Archambeau-Fisher says she values her new career path. The financial stability the career offers is important, she says, but so is the opportunity to be a role model to her two young children. “I’d drive past the building and say, ‘That’s where mom works,’ and my 9-year-old would talk about it at school with her friends,” Archambeau-Fisher said. “She’d be all proud, and she’d tell her teachers. When I went to parent-teacher conferences, they were all talking to me about it, saying, ‘That’s so cool.’” n 42 / BizTimes Milwaukee AUGUST 21, 2017

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The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project created 2,600 construction-related jobs.

ANDREW LAVIGNE

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Profile for BizTimes Media

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