For generations, the United States relied on the grit and resilience of working men and women to deliver on the promise of a nation. A promise that says hard work is rewarded with the opportunity to build a better life - and that together - we can achieve greatness in the face of adversity.
When the Roaring Twenties gave way to the Great Depression, a New Deal was forged and workers created icons like the Overseas Highway and the Hoover Dam.
When the Global Financial Crisis became the Great Recession, ‘shovel-ready’ projects in infrastructure and renewable energy built a strong foundation for a post crisis society.
When the COVID-19 Pandemic forced much of the world to shelter-in-place, essential workers kept power on at our hospitals; heating, cooling and plumbing in our homes; and the telecommunications infrastructure working to keep us safe and connected with each other.
From concrete finishers to carpenters, plumbers to plasterers, American history is full of stories of communities who know that working with your hands and your mind is a lucrative and fulfilling career. That every day is an opportunity to be better than the day before and to find joy in the pursuit of excellence both on and off the job. That no matter your gender, race or creed -- you are continuing to build on the promise of America as a country built by the people, and for the people.
However, despite US history being required for most high school students, almost two thirds of young people say they didn’t learn about the trades in high school. Half of those surveyed said they would rather be a barista than a welder. The average barista makes $10.60/hr while the average welder makes $18.23/hr, with high-end welders pulling in six-figure incomes. However, to students - these career paths are seen as the same.
Stuck in outdated perceptions of what it means to be a modern skilled tradesperson, 55% percent of those students believe it’s more respectable to have an office job than a job working with your hands. It’s easy to view something as a back-up plan, when it’s only ever presented as a back-up plan.
Rest assured, there are good people trying to close the skills gap, creating scholarship programs for vocational schools and directing people into the trades. However, real change will come from how we view ourselves, how we communicate our value and how we break from old-school conventions to embrace an identity which captures the dedication, hard work and care of those who perform the skilled, physical work that keeps society functioning: Industrial Athletes.
What is an Industrial Athlete?
Being an Industrial Athlete isn't about athleticism or how you look. Being an Industrial Athlete means having the opportunity to embrace the challenge of becoming stronger and smarter than yesterday. It’s a mindset that, yes, includes physicality, but also means being dedicated to perfecting and acquiring new skills both on and off the job site.
Industrial Athletes don’t brush off their pants and say “good enough,” they seek to enhance and expand their abilities. On tough jobs, in severe weather, during times of crisis and faced with difficult clients — Industrial Athletes aren’t punching in, going through the motions and punching out, they’re showing up and saying “Game On!” with enthusiasm.
If we want to make a real impact on how society views the trades we need to start with how we view ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be defined by what others think of us, we lose the ability to give voice to the parts that don’t fit that definition. We internalize the negative stigmas in the labels blue-collar, working class and laborer.
We accept a narrative that is too small for who we are and what we do.
Let’s Write a New Story
Today, America celebrates Labor Day. A day when industrial workers in New York City came together to demand recognition for their contributions to our society. Without their daily pay, they gathered in the streets to march for recognition, setting in motion a labor movement that has continued to inspire generations of Americans.
At Truewerk it continues to inspire us, not only to make the best performance workwear out there, but to use our brand as a force for positive change and celebrate the communities of individuals doing this difficult work. So let us summon a new spirit of community, one that allows us to dream, to look toward the future and encourage future generations to do the same.
This Labor Day, let’s rise together as an Industrial Athlete Nation. Let’s take ownership of a new narrative. One that says what we do is no back-up plan, that we’re proud of our community, we’re plumbers, electricians, mechanics, arborists - we are the tradesmen and women who believe in the value of our way of life.
Join us to show your support for the IA Nation - whether you’re an industrial athlete yourself or you believe that their contributions to society are worth celebrating. We’ve created a special logo for IA Nation and when you see it around, let it serve as a reminder to yourself (and others) of what an honor and privilege it is to be an industrial athlete.
Where might you see it? Truewerk is rolling out exclusive decals and t-shirts, so we can fuel a movement that tells this new story.
Fill out the form here.
When you receive your sticker, display it proudly. Show us how your reppin’ by tagging us on Instagram, @truewerk and hashtagging #IANation
At any time, head here to submit a story about what makes you an Industrial Athlete for the opportunity to earn a free limited-edition Industrial Athlete t-shirt. These are exclusive...you’re gonna want to get your hands on one.
Put the decal on your water bottle, toolbox, truck or anywhere you want that will show people you are an Industrial Athlete.