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Walking into Anthony Roofing’s warehouse, you’ll hear a playlist of 1960s pop tunes and metal rock music as shop foreman Ted Seven quietly works away on sheets of metal. He cuts them down to size and measures them meticulously. At only twenty-three, he moves at the pace of someone with twenty years of experience. It took him three years to become a competent sheet metal roofer. “In the beginning, there were moments where I messed up. I still don’t feel like I know everything, because I’m always learning something new on the job,” he said. He started an apprenticeship right after high school. But unlike his time in school, most of his learning came from on-the-job training. “Ninety percent of you what you know comes from the job, ten percent comes from the classroom,” He said.

One of the most difficult parts of his job is managing the materials he works with for projects. He must cut down enough sheets of metal to finish his projects, but not too much that he has left over pieces. “I have to think about budgets at this point. I don’t want to waste material and have to order more later on. I also don’t want to have too little material to work with,” he said.  To ensure he has the correct supply of materials, Ted often goes onto rooftops and measures them to determine how many metal sheets he will cut up. His measurements must be correct.

Ted works with the metal from start to finish. He measures rooftops, produces the panels, and then goes out and installs them in the field. At times, he has installed the metal panels by himself.  His sheet metal panels are on rooftops all across the country. He has worked on some important buildings for major companies and corporations.

Outside of his work, people often misunderstand how complex his job can be. “People sometimes think I’m screwing in shingles, but I have to explain I’m building parts for complex roofing systems, and that I’m constantly learning new things,” He said. He typically works with steel or aluminum sheets, standard materials for sheet metal roofing. He wants to gain more experience with copper and stainless steel. “Those are special metals and cost more money than the other stuff [steel and aluminum], and you have to solder them on the field, “He said. “I only know two people that can do that.”

At a young age, Ted is an interesting position: he runs the shop where the metal is fabricated. That means he educates and mentors incoming apprentices. “It can be a little challenging because sometimes you’re teaching people who don’t have a lot of experience with the trade,” He said. “I try to put myself in their shoes and remember where I struggled when I first started as an apprentice.”

In the shop, the apprentices listen to him. They come up to him with questions, and Ted patiently helps them identify the root of the problem that’s delaying their work. “Roofing is a lot of hard work and preparation,” He said. “You don’t just work hard, you learn hard.”