It was Andrew Glennie’s first day on the job as a blade technician. As they stepped onto the platform 200 feet off the ground, his coworker asked him if he was afraid of heights. “Nope!” he told him, but Andrew says he understood the reason for the question. “You get up there the first time and it’s either for you, or it’s not.”
Fortunately, it’s for Andrew—in a big way.
It’s very peaceful up there. I have the best view of any office in the world,” he explains. “It’s also very physical, and I like that physical challenge,” as well.
Andrew G. in PPE
Blade technicians are required to carry 60 lbs of personal protective equipment, which include a harness, a self-rescue kit, work boots, and a helmet. Once up there, they document blade damage—often caused by lightning—and start the repair process. They first strip the paint to find out how many layers of fiberglass are damaged. Then they use resin and other materials to rebuild the structural integrity and shape of the blade.
That’s the part of the job that really speaks to Andrew’s art school education and career in custom auto-body. He says it’s a matter of “seeing how something needs to be, and knowing how to manipulate things physically in order to make it correct again.”
Though he was drawn to the visual arts, he realized after graduation that “art school was a little misdirected in terms of making money.” He bartended in Portland, Oregon for 10 years and, after realizing his creative needs were unfulfilled, went back to school for auto-body. “I wanted to be working with my hands and creating something,” he says.
Andrew G. outside of his hotel after work
His career painting cars ended abruptly after he was hit by a drunk driver while biking home from work. “Mentally and physically, I was pretty messed up and couldn’t paint cars anymore,” he says. “The sanding and fine motor skills required for painting was just exhausting for me. I could climb and swing a hammer, but I wasn’t fluid with the motion I needed for fine body painting.”
Despite this, his drive to be productive and “make stuff” was still as strong as ever, so he went into construction and remodeling of homes. It was then that a family friend suggested the blade tech training program with Workrise. “He knew what made me tick—getting to the bottom of something and making it right. That’s just naturally how my brain works,” Andrew says. In Workrise’s training program, Andrew learned not only the repair process, but also the rigorous safety protocols.
The actual job once you’re up in the air is pretty second nature for the skill set that I’ve developed over the last 20 years. But just getting up to the job requires a whole new skill set.Andrew G.
Andrew G. Driving through a wind farm
Blade techs learn to monitor lightning, wind, and humidity in the area to ensure safe working conditions, and to conduct daily checks of their protective equipment. They also receive intensive first-aid training. “If anything happens, the only person that can save you is your crew. An EMT can’t get up there. That’s pretty cool because there’s camaraderie with the people you’re working with. They’ve got to be able to save your life.”
Andrew says the training set him up for success. “You definitely have the tools to handle yourself before you get out there. I know I could save anyone up there with me,” he says.
Andrew G. on-site in North Texas
In addition to the adventure of working up in the air, the joy of fixing things, and the camaraderie of the team, Andrew says he also appreciates the wind industry itself. “Our society is trying to get away from fossil fuels and wind is helping us find a more sustainable way of getting power to fuel our civilization. I think it’s a good career path to be on.” Though he’s experienced ups and downs, he says he has no regrets.
Everything I’ve done in my life is all coming together now. I’m still able to fulfill my creative drive, but I found a career where I can make money.Andrew G.
Andrew G. getting ready for the day
Andrew says his resilience and work ethic come from his mom, a registered nurse who immigrated to Washington state from South Africa before her children were born. “She supported the family when I was growing up. I saw how hard she worked. I got a paper route when I was 12 years old, and have worked ever since then,” he says. “She taught me to take pride in building something for the future.”
Now Andrew plans to build on his professional experience to buy and remodel his own home. “I am 41 years old and don’t own my own house, and it’s always been a dream of mine to do really sweet, savvy remodels with architectural elements. This is the first job I’ve had where that’s a possibility.”