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Skills USA Leadership and Skills Conference and More

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And this very special edition of The Money Pit is coming to you today from Kansas City, Missouri, site of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

    Now, SkillsUSA is a very unique organization that helps keep their tradition of the vocational arts alive in our nation’s high school and I’ve got to tell you, as a former industrial-arts teacher – that is a shop teacher, for those of you that don’t know the technical terms – I can tell you that the unique set of skills being developed by the over 5,700 students here is going to prepare them for a very bright future. And we are very proud and pleased to be here to help support them in that effort.

    LESLIE: So I guess, Tom, this kind of makes you a vocational-arts success story.

    TOM: Well, maybe. But I’ve got to tell you, I’m not alone, because you just never know where the skills that are being taught in vocational-education programs all across the country may lead.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, one place they’ll lead is to fill a big gap in the number of qualified trade professionals that we’ve got currently available in our country.

    Now, Skills students study a wide range of fields, including many of the fields in the construction and remodeling industry, and will be well-prepared to help take care of your money pits for decades to come.

    TOM: You know, you’ve got to think about it. These are the kids that are going to be the HVAC technicians, the roofers, the contractors. They’re going to be working on your house tomorrow, so we are very pleased to be here to support those efforts.

    And we have a fantastic hour planned for you today. If you’ve been thinking about improving the lighting and the décor around your house, we’ve got tips on the latest in dimmers, which are now getting so smart, they can even dim a CFL or an LED light bulb.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And we’re going to talk to a guy who is no stranger to hard work. In fact, he dives into the dirtiest jobs every week as host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. We’ve got Mike Rowe joining us.

    TOM: And we’re going to give you a front-row seat to a very cool reality show happening right here in Kansas City. We’re going to hear how the students here compete in nearly 100 hands-on skills and leadership challenges: everything from carpentry to cosmetology.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’d like to hear your questions, so we’re giving away a $50 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors, to one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour with their home improvement question. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. That’s right. We get our questions the old-fashioned way: we bribe you. So pick up the phone and give us a call and you might be getting that $50 gift card from Lowe’s going out to you, for the courage that it takes to do that.

    But first, we’re going to learn a little bit about this great organization today from Dr. John Gaal. He’s the vice president of SkillsUSA’s board and also the Association of Career and Technical Education liaison.

    Welcome, Dr. Gaal.

    DR. JOHN GAAL: Hello.

    TOM: Well, thanks so much for stopping by our show. And I understand that you actually earned your doctorate in organizational leadership and it seems that the leadership here is masterful, so let’s start there. What does it take to put a program like this together?

    DR. JOHN GAAL: It’s a huge undertaking. And without the corporate sponsorship and the different organizations that obviously benefit from the skills that these young leaders garner, it wouldn’t be possible. So there are thousands and thousands in hours and thousands and thousands of in-kind donations that make this event possible.

    And leadership comes in many ways and we see it, not only as leadership from a technical standpoint but from the people side of the matter, as well. Our students – our contestants here this week – have proven themselves not only in the classroom and in the shop but in means of community service, as well. So they …

    TOM: Now, how long have you been involved with the program?

    DR. JOHN GAAL: I have been involved with SkillsUSA since the mid-90s, actually since …

    TOM: So you must have seen a lot over those years. Can you give us a couple of success stories that you were witness to?

    DR. JOHN GAAL: Oh, sure. We’ve had students at the national carpentry contest come back to the St. Louis area, where I’m from, and do very well, not only as carpenter apprentices but moving up the ranks into superintendent positions.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, Dr. Gaal, I mean you mentioned St. Louis and we know that you work with the carpenters’ council there. How important are these trained and skilled students to the future of the carpentry field?

    DR. JOHN GAAL: Oh, they’re significant because without these individuals, the business community in the construction sector has to grow their own. And so, we serve – we, as in SkillsUSA – serve a specific function: we help grow those stick skills earlier in the process and that way, they have a smooth transition from the academic setting into the work world. And therefore, our contractors, our different municipalities, our different business owners are able to take advantage of the skills that these people bring to the job site.

    TOM: We’re talking to Dr. John Gaal. He’s a vice president of SkillsUSA board and also the Association of Career and Technical Education liaison.

    Let’s talk about the state of the technical and trade education in the country today. Are there challenges to getting these programs launched in schools across the country?

    DR. JOHN GAAL: Oh, most definitely. In the world of accountability that the Department of Education has everybody under that microscope, it’s very significant that every program delivers value and …

    TOM: Well, certainly, this is a program that does just that. Dr. Gaal, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    DR. JOHN GAAL: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, we’re going to hear from a guy who celebrates America’s skilled workforce every single week. Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, will be joining us.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ll be back with more from the virtual home improvement Olympics here at the SkillsUSA National Skills and Leadership Conference, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job that me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but still filthy.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Founded in 1841 by a family of painters, Flood is the wood-care specialist, so you don’t have to be. Flood offers a full line of exterior wood stains and cleaners to protect, preserve and beautify your investment. Visit Flood.com for more information.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you today from Kansas City, Missouri, site of the 47th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

    Now, there are thousands of people attending, including trade-program students and heads of national corporations and the teachers. Let’s not forget about the teachers that make this all possible.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And one of the highlights of this event is the SkillsUSA Championships. And that’s a national-level competition for public high school and college tech students enrolled in career and technical-education programs. And SkillsUSA organizes this event and it’s considered the single greatest day of industry volunteerism in America.

    TOM: And we’re going to talk now to one of those student competitors. Robin Cronbaugh attends Peoria High School in Arizona where she is in the industrial technology program. And Robin is also a national officer with SkillsUSA.

    Welcome to the program, Robin.

    ROBIN: Thank you for having me.

    TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. Is this your first big national radio interview?

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: We don’t bite.

    So you’ve got a really interesting story. Now, your goal is to become a medical missionary, correct?

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: And to do that – or as one of the skills to do that – you’re actually studying the building trades. Because not only are you going to make people better, you’re going to build the hospitals to make them better.

    ROBIN: Correct.

    TOM: Well, that’s pretty exciting. Now, what got you started on this?

    ROBIN: Well, my brother was in SkillsUSA my freshman year and I knew about all the different CT classes. And I thought building trades would be the perfect opportunity to be able to travel and do missionary trips, because I had gone on them previously and we were able to fix up homes and churches. And I’m like, “Hey, what a better thing to do than learn how to do it properly?”

    TOM: Right. That’s a great thought.

    ROBIN: So as I kept going, I realized I wanted to go into the medical part, too.

    TOM: Right. So have you studied any of the medical part of it here yet or are you – is that going to come after? Are you going to study that at community college or …?

    ROBIN: Yeah, I’ll go to Arizona State University and get my RN and then I’ll be able to go on missions trips.

    TOM: OK, great. Good.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: And of course, you’re going to help everybody fix up their dorm rooms, too, right, when you get there?

    ROBIN: Yes, definitely.

    TOM: Because you will have the skills to do that.

    ROBIN: Yeah. Remodel my own.

    TOM: Well, that’s pretty cool. Now, are you actually a competitor here today?

    ROBIN: No, I am not. I am just as – I’m just a national officer.

    TOM: As a board member?

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Good. Now, what was – what’s your favorite event?

    ROBIN: My favorite event? I would have to say the Team Build, because I come from that and also, I’ve seen teens from my school come to nationals and compete.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBIN: And I just think it’s an amazing thing, because it’s taking the carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical, all putting it together to – in one competition.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And Robin, given what you want to do, it really is so important to learn about teamwork. And of course, a job site is truly about teamwork, as far as keeping it on budget, keeping it on schedule. So if you can master that skill, that’s really a huge step forward to the future.

    ROBIN: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Now, how’d your brother do? Did he compete when he was here?

    ROBIN: He didn’t compete at nationals but he competed at the state level. And he was a culinary student, actually.

    TOM: And what is he doing now?

    LESLIE: Oh, wow.

    ROBIN: He goes to Georgetown University, so …

    TOM: Wow. Well, that’s fantastic. So, great roots, huh?

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So you’ve got a lot to look up to there.

    ROBIN: I do.

    TOM: Alright, Robin Cronbaugh. Thank you so much for telling us your story and best of luck to you.

    ROBIN: Thank you.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, this organization does an amazing job of building life-long careers and leadership qualities in students who want to then pursue specialized-trade education, like the master electricians, carpenters, masons. And all of these people, listen up, are going to be coming to your house in the future to do work. So this is a really amazing start in skill set for these guys.

    TOM: That’s right. But if one of the projects you have in mind for your home is to update the lighting, fortunately, you don’t have to be a master electrician to do just that. In fact, installing a dimmer can quickly and easily transform your room’s mood and they’re also a great option for saving energy.

    And what’s cool about dimmers now is they’re actually getting very smart. Now, if you think about it, dimmers were actually invented back in 1961 by the founder of Lutron Electronics and that company has still been leading the pack ever since. And there are many options for dimmers, from toggles to slides. And installing one is almost certainly a DIY project that can help you change the ambiance of your favorite room very inexpensively and very easily.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you are ready for that project, Lutron has got a new product now that’s called the C·L Dimmer. For example, they will dim CFL and LED bulbs with trademark technology that’s going to allow you to smoothly dim both of these energy-efficient light sources. And that had always been the problem – you either couldn’t dim them or it wouldn’t be a smooth transition – but this has completely gotten rid of that.

    Plus, these dimmers can also be used for both halogen and incandescent bulbs. I mean this is really a first.

    TOM: And that’s a good point, because the old traditional dimmers, when you used them with CFLs and LEDs, they kind of flickered but not with these Lutron C·L dimmers. They’re specially designed to work with both CFLs and LEDs and they dim perfectly. They sent me some, I tested them out and I’ve got to tell you, they look great and they work well, too.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s actually a new design that they’ve sort of been working with called the Skylark Contour, which features a rocker switch that’s going to turn the lights on and off and then an easy-to-use slide control that adjusts that light for whatever activity or mood you’re feeling.

    And if you’d like to see the Skylark Contour, it’s beautiful and it’s online at Lutron.com for more information. Or you can head on over to The Home Depot to pick one up today.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the 47th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City.

    We’re going to take your calls now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru Doors. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Annette did just that. She’s joining us from Michigan with a question about her concrete settling.

    Hi, Annette.

    ANNETTE: Hi.

    TOM: So what’s going on?

    ANNETTE: Next to – inside of our garage, they never – before they back – put the dirt back, they didn’t tamp it down.

    TOM: Right.

    ANNETTE: So now it’s sunk about an inch and I want to know, do we take a jackhammer and dig that out?

    TOM: Is it the entire floor or is just a small section?

    LESLIE: Or just an area?

    ANNETTE: It’s right next to the basement in our – inside of our garage.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: But is it the whole slab or just a section of that slab?

    ANNETTE: Half of the slab.

    TOM: Half of the slab, OK. Well, here’s the thing. Now, we can tell you how to fix it and level it.


    TOM: You can use an epoxy compound – epoxy floor-leveling compound – for that.

    ANNETTE: Oh, really?

    TOM: And you could float, essentially, a new floor on top of it. But here’s the risk: the risk is that the settlement’s not done.


    TOM: And once you get done and it’s perfect and you’re dancing the Irish jig on this new floor and thinking it’s looking great, a few weeks later you’re going to notice that it goes down more and it cracks again.

    LESLIE: You’re going to have to do it again.

    TOM: So that’s the risk, OK?


    TOM: If it was not tamped right to begin with, if there was organic material in there, if there were 2x4s or tree stumps or whatever, that can continue to happen over and over and over again. But if we think that maybe it’s kind of run its course and it’s done, then you can use a leveling compound on it. And if you do that, it’ll look perfectly and in fact, you could put an epoxy finish on it and it would look great.

    LESLIE: And you would never even know.

    TOM: Exactly.

    ANNETTE: Really?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    ANNETTE: Now, what is this product called?

    TOM: There’s a number of different brands but they’re epoxy-based. That’s what’s important: they’re epoxy-based.


    TOM: Or you could go to QUIKRETE.com and QUIKRETE has a product that’s designed to do this, as well.

    ANNETTE: Really? Well, that’s perfect.

    TOM: OK?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they’re easy do-it-yourself projects.

    ANNETTE: Great. I am so excited I called in.

    TOM: Alright, Annette. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Let’s go to Toledo now and talk to Jim with a question about decks.

    Hi, Jim. Welcome to the program.

    JIM: I love your show, guys. You guys help me out a lot.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Jim.

    JIM: I’ve got an old deck behind the house. It’s not composite; it’s just pressure-treated lumber, I think they call it?

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And I’ve had it about seven, eight years. And not all the boards but some of them are cracking and splitting and you can’t go out there barefoot, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a summer deck.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: But they’re not all doing it and I – and if I replace a couple boards, they’re going to be a different color. Is there any way around it?

    TOM: Have you done any staining or finishing of this deck over the years or have you just pretty much left it alone?

    JIM: We refinished it once.

    TOM: OK. And how old is it?

    JIM: About seven, eight years.

    TOM: Alright. Well, yeah, it’s probably due for it again. The problem with pressure-treated is a lot of folks think that just because it’s pressure-treated, it’s not going to crack; that’s not exactly the case. It won’t rot but it will crack and check; it’s still very susceptible to the damaging rays of the sun, the UV degradation.

    So, I’ll give you a couple of ideas. First of all, you take the ones that are the most badly-cracked deck boards, you can pry those out and it doesn’t matter even if you damage the deck surface by doing that. Because what we’re going to tell you to do is once you pry it out, flip it over upside-down and then nail it back in. Because that checking and that cracking is going to be mostly on the sunny side; the underside that’s been facing the dirt …

    LESLIE: Should be great.

    TOM: It should be perfect, OK?

    JIM: Oh, wow.

    TOM: It really shouldn’t have any problem with it at all and it’ll save you some money, too.

    So you do that in all of the boards that are in really bad shape. And then the next thing that you can do is you can clean the entire deck surface. And you’re going to want to use a deck cleaner on that that’s got, say, an oxygenated bleach in it so that you get rid of any moss or mildew or mold that’s attached to it.

    LESLIE: And buildup.

    TOM: And any buildup – dirt buildup – of course, yeah.

    And then I think it’s time for the staining process, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And at this point, because of the age of the deck, you probably want to go with either a semi – I mean a solid or a semi-transparent stain, because you want to put more pigment onto that wood itself. This way, you’re going to even out the age-y-ness (ph) of it and make it look more uniform.

    And even if you go with the solid stains, you can go with ones that are in the more natural tones if going for something as bright as a blue deck isn’t what you’ve got in mind. You can go with things that – a finish that really gives it that natural sort of aged-wood patina.

    JIM: So I don’t need to get a floor sander or anything?

    TOM: No. If it’s just a little bit of roughness, you could do that but if it’s that bad, I would flip the board over. Because sometimes, you get the boards that the pieces actually sort of lift off and you really can’t sand that away. If it happens to be not (inaudible at 0:18:36) its flats on so that the little pieces of the wood rings lift up and you can’t really sand those away. So you would flip those boards over.

    But there’s another option, too. And that is if you really want to throw a little bit of money into it, you could just eliminate the decking, keep the structure and replace that with just composite decking. So in other words, the …

    LESLIE: Yeah. Then you never have to restain, refinish. You just clean it once in a while and you’re good.

    TOM: Right. And it’s not as expensive as doing the whole thing, because you’re essentially going to only be replacing the deck surface and that’s the way to do that.

    Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Plenty of time right now to get that repair done where you can really, really enjoy that summer for all the months that we have left.

    You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, broadcasting today from the SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference and Competition here in Kansas City. You can hear the air ratchets going off in the background, the fork trucks are driving around and all of these kids are getting raring to go into these home improvement competitions.

    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, we’re going to hear from a guy who never met a dirty job he didn’t like. We’ve got Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and a big SkillsUSA supporter, joining us, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are broadcasting from the 47th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Seeing a real showcase here of career and technical-education students, who are learning trades that will sustain them for life.

    Joining us now is a guy who is living proof that hard work and fun can mutually co-exist: Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel.

    Welcome, Mike.

    MIKE: Thank you, Tom. I prefer to say fun and hard work; priorities are key, you know.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah, you’ve got to get the priorities right.

    Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’m sure our listeners get a kick out of your endeavors every week as you take on a different dirty job. Can you just give us maybe a few of your favorites over the past few years?

    MIKE: Well, on Dirty Jobs, we don’t really use words like “favorites” anymore. On my show, good is bad, bad is good, gross is clean, clean is irrelevant. We’ve had 300 of these things and in the end, when I look back at my cluttered, filthy résumé, it’s really not the dirt or the jobs that stick out, it’s the people I’ve met along the way.

    At base, Dirty Jobs is really a talk show; it just takes place from time to time in a sewer, at the top of a bridge, in a garbage dump, on a construction site. Pretty much, it takes place in the world we live in and the stars are anonymous people who many times live in towns you couldn’t find on a map, who you would otherwise never meet.

    TOM: You work in the best studio there is: the studio of life.

    MIKE: I do. Very lucky.

    TOM: Now, you’ve become a leading advocate for vocational education and out of that, you began the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Can you talk to us about that?

    MIKE: Yeah. Again, like so many things you wind up being proud of, you can’t really take any credit for it because if you’re honest with yourself and you look back, it was really more serendipity than a strategy well-played, at least for me. Dirty Jobs was doing really well in 2005, 6 and 7 and on Labor Day of 2008, I put something into play that had been on my mind for a while.

    And doing the show, I get to talk to lots and lots of different people. We’ve been to every state, worked in every industry. And I started to hear over and over the same kinds of challenges that were facing many of the industries that we featured on the show. And near the top of the list was this skills gap. Even as unemployment was rising, there were more and more vacancies being created that really nobody was talking about: manufacturing trades, utilities, transportation. Skilled labor was actually suffering from a shortage, even as regular unemployment was spiking. And that just was, to me, one of the most bizarre statistics to try and get your head around.

    And to make a long story short, I just thought it would be fun to give something back to those industries, by building online a trade resource center: a place where kids and parents could go to at least start an investigation and maybe a conversation about what the definition of a good job was in 2008 and create in that resource center opportunities or links, I should say, to apprenticeships and scholarships and community colleges and in general, just try and spread a little love back into the trades.

    And it was really a very modest undertaking but the fans of Dirty Jobs stepped up in a huge way: they submitted tens of thousands of links, state by state. I organized them as best I could, put a name on it and just started talking about the trades. And because Dirty Jobs continued to do well, there was always a reporter with a question, a microphone, a TV camera. So I was able to promote the show and talk about what I thought was kind of a grown-up and important issue that affects everybody all at the same time.

    TOM: Well, I can’t agree with you more, Mike. Before I got behind this mic, I was actually formally trained as a shop teacher and then spent about 20 years as a home inspector. And I’ve got to tell you, from that perch, we are putting homes together much the same way as we have for the last 200 years. The difference is, as you point out, that there are a lot fewer qualified folks out there to take care of them.

    I mean shop classes have all been phased out and except for the vocational/technical courses that these kids are taking, we would be graduating millions of future homeowners who literally don’t know which end of the hammer to hold.

    MIKE: Isn’t it crazy how much press we’ve read about the cutbacks in the arts? And by the way, that’s how I grew up. I grew up around the theater, singing; the arts are very important to me. But the vocational arts were cut at probably a rate double or triple that and you just never see that in the headlines.

    TOM: Yep.

    MIKE: So, yeah, you hate to see a music class cut; believe me, it kills me. But you don’t even hear about the wood shop or the metal shop or the auto shop or all those other things that have come to feel like vocational consolation prizes for kids who can’t swing a college degree.

    TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm.

    MIKE: We’ve really wired ourselves, to a certain degree, for failure.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.

    Now, there are over 5,500 kids here competing in the National Skills and Leadership Conference this week. And your foundation has actually taken a very active role in making that possible. Let’s talk about the Foundation Competitor Scholarship that the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has created for these SkillsUSA members.

    MIKE: We try and do something every year. It’s not like the Bill Gates Foundation; we’re modest.

    TOM: Sure.

    MIKE: But we try and sprinkle the money around in areas that actually have an impact on a micro-level. And by that, I mean m-i-c-r-o, which was originally how I wanted to label the foundation but I don’t think Bill Gates would have approved.

    But some years, we’ll give away tool stipends, so graduates of trade schools who really did well can have some money on hand to purchase their first set of tools. As you know, those things are expensive.

    TOM: Yep.

    MIKE: This year, there was just a – it came to my attention that a lot of the kids who were there – everybody’s got to get themselves there. And there were some real hardship cases where really talented kids who had great projects underway were just faced with kind of a crushing travel bill.

    TOM: Sure.

    MIKE: In many cases, kids coming out of the Southeast. So this year, we just wanted to do something to help get some of those kids there, on us. And again, it’s not the breadth of the gesture. I hope it’s just a – it gives me something to talk about and say – look, if you can have a conversation about a kid who’s passionate enough to come across the country to work on these kinds of projects, you don’t want to do anything to smother or diminish that passion. In fact, you want to do the exact opposite and do whatever you can to make sure they get there.

    So, that’s what we did this year. Next year, maybe we’ll do it again. Maybe we’ll do it a little bigger. I hope so.

    TOM: We’re talking to Mike Rowe, from Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, about the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and the great Competitors Scholarship that he put together to get kids right here into Kansas City, Missouri.

    And Mike, not only is this money going to help these kids get here but these kids are actually going to help the economy moving forward. We’re so focused on the economy right now and I think when these kids get out there and graduate and get to work, that’s got to help us, too, don’t you think?

    MIKE: Well, it’s such a huge point, Tom, and it’s something people miss all the time. You actually alluded to it in your intro when you said that these are professions and careers that can stick with you for the rest of your life and really serve you well. And while that’s completely true, in terms of the opportunity of learning a skill or mastering a trade, the real impact is the effect that those kids have on all of us.

    And that’s – it’s kind of nuanced and it takes a minute or so to really articulate. But my position is hopefully never confused with that of a spokesman for the working guy. I’m a fan of the people who do this kind of work and I think the vast majority of people in this country are, as well, whether they realize it or not.

    The point is I’m addicted to paved roads and heating and air conditioning, chewing and swallowing, indoor plumbing. I’m not an expert in making any of those things happen but fundamentally, the reason SkillsUSA is so important is that it sends a message to the whole country that says, “Look, time out, everybody. We all benefit from the kind of work that’s being done here.” And if you really want to understand the skills gap, I don’t think it’s much more complicated than looking at it and saying, “You know what? This is just a reflection of what we value today or maybe more to the point, what we don’t.”

    TOM: Great point. Mike Rowe, thank you so much for spending some time with us here in Kansas City, Missouri.

    If you’d like to learn more about the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, you can visit them online at mikeroweWORKS.com. Also, catch Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe on the Discovery Channel.

    Thanks, Mike.

    MIKE: Tom, I can’t believe we talked for 10 minutes and I didn’t make one poop joke. Maybe next time.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. This very special edition of the program is coming to you today from Kansas City, Missouri, site of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

    We are here to help commend and celebrate the work that SkillsUSA does to develop trade and leadership skills in students who are going to go on to master many fields in their career, including those in the construction and home remodeling industries.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if your next remodeling project includes a new patio door, why don’t you give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT? Because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru Doors, which you could then use towards the purchase of a beautiful Therma-Tru Benchmark patio door, which is available exclusively at Lowe’s.

    Now, Benchmark’s patio-door systems come with a limited lifetime warranty, they’re energy-efficient, they’ve got low-e glass and they’re going to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, which we all want. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones now and talk to Arlene, who’s joining us from Pennsylvania with a problem sink.

    Hi, Arlene. What’s going on with that sink?

    ARLENE: Well, it’s the spigot. I need some new spigots and – you know, the faucet and the spigot handles?

    TOM: Yep.


    ARLENE: What I want to know is – I was only aware of the type of spigot handles that have the washers in them or the washerless. I understand there’s some kind now that has a ball in there.

    TOM: Well, I think state-of-the-art now with faucets is really – it’s really in the valve. And the valves are called ceramic valves. They are totally washerless and in fact, the more you use them, the tighter the seals actually get. I’ve seen these ceramic valves up close and in person and I’ve got to tell you, when they click together, they’re so perfectly polished smooth that they’re almost like magnets, if you can imagine that. When you touch them together, you can’t physically pull them apart without using a lot of force.

    So, what you want to look for in a new faucet is one that has ceramic valves; don’t worry about the washers, the washerless, whether it’s got a ball or doesn’t. You want ceramic valves. That’s going to give you the very smooth action and one that’s going to last for a really, really long time. Does that make sense?

    ARLENE: Oh, OK. Well, that’s something new that I wasn’t aware of and since I’m in the market, why I will look for that particular type then. But I wanted your opinion.

    TOM: Yeah, well, take a look and you know what? American Standard has this and also Moen, two great brands. And you can find those at your local home center.

    So, give it a try. I think you’re going to be very, very happy with those new faucets.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, coming to you from the SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s kind of like a shop class on steroids.

    LESLIE: It is a lot of fun. And up next, you guys, we’re going to have tips on a quick, easy and cheap way to turn everyday objects into unique, outdoor side tables that you can use to deck out your patio, your porch or your deck to have a great summer season.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re broadcasting today from the SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference and Competition here in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Now, there are 5,700 students here from all over the nation and these folks are competing in all sorts of trades. We’ve got carpentry, HVAC, cabinetry, cosmetology, baking. You name it, they’re here competing.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you work with your hands? This is for you.

    TOM: Isn’t it the place to be? And these kids are the best of the best. They’ve had to win their state competitions to come here. And if you think about it, 5,700 kids, that’s about 100 per state that are here: the best of the best in the trades. And we’re here to help support them as they compete for these national championships.

    And as we learned earlier, over $1 million in scholarships available to the winners of these competitions. And these are the kids who are going to go on to become the expert tradespeople that we’re all going to need to rely on to take care of our homes in the future.

    LESLIE: Yeah and you know what? It really is a great program. So if you know a student or if you’ve got a kid in your life that would really benefit from this type of program, you want to visit their website. It’s SkillsUSA and their website is SkillsUSA.org. Or even ask about it at your local school. I mean there’s a lot of great ways to get information on how you can participate and really get a life set of skills in your own hands.

    TOM: Well, three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle – sounds like a school lesson, doesn’t it – are the key to Leslie’s tip in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: It does indeed.

    TOM: She’s here with great ideas for green and cheap side tables for your outdoor spaces.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, this really is a true trick of the trade and it’s turning unusual, everyday items into functional side tables. And if you just use what you’ve got around or what you see that somebody’s putting out on the curb that they don’t want or even at a secondhand store, you’ve got a great way to turn something into an excellent side table, cocktail table, whatever you want for your outdoor space.

    The trick is you want to make sure that there is a surface area that you can actually use. Now, if you pick up a design magazine or a catalog, you are going to see these ceramic garden stools pretty much everywhere. And they used to be kind of a surprise idea to see out-of-doors or even inside the house. But now you can find one at Target, you can find one at Williams-Sonoma Home. So whatever your budget is, this is a really great item to put outdoors, in a bathroom, wherever you like. But these ceramic garden stools are adorable.

    Now, you might find a rain drum or even vintage wire baskets, ceramic or clay garden pots or even pedestal bird baths. These work great as a side table for out-of-doors or a coffee table. All you really need to complete the piece is either a piece of glass or Plexiglas that you can cut to size or perhaps find around – Pier 1 sells great, round glass pieces for tabletops at a really affordable price. And that really makes the transformation complete and it’s a wonderful item to have in your outdoor space.

    You just want to make sure that the item is stable and that the tabletop is securely put on the item. Then enjoy your outdoor space and make sure you’ve got plenty of room to put down your book, your drink, your plate. Whatever it is, have a great summer season.

    TOM: And also, think about adding some lighting to that space, too. Outdoor rooms have never been more popular; they really are a total extension of your living space this time of year. So, fix it up. It doesn’t have to be very expensive

    And as you said, Leslie, it can come out really, really well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And personal and charming. And that’s really the key to having a space that speaks your interior-design style. And that’s really the key to having a beautiful space.

    TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, coming to you from the site of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

    If you’d like more tips on skills, if you know a student that might benefit from this kind of program, visit them at SkillsUSA.org.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if you shy away from plumbing work because you have to use a torch and solder, we’ve got good news for you: plumbing got a lot easier with solderless connections. We’re going to tell you about on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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