SAJAC builds training center in Texas to meet job growth

SAJAC’s new training facility houses state-of-the-art equipment.

Facility honors IVP George D. Rogers, former L-132 BM-ST

“Build it and they will come.” That famous movie phrase could easily apply to the new training facility built by the Southeastern Area Joint Apprenticeship Committee (SAJAC) on land donated by Local 132 in LaMarque, Texas.

Since the center was completed in June 2006, the two classrooms and 22 welding booths have been in near-constant use, says Mark Thompson, business manager and secretary-treasurer of Local 132 since July 2002.

The $1 million training facility is being used to turn out a new generation of welders. After years of decline, the demand for unionized welders is on an upswing thanks to a boom in construction work across Texas — in particular, in the construction of power plants.

“We will need over 3,000 Boilermakers in the next two years in Texas alone,” predicts Central Section International Vice President George D. Rogers. Rogers, a former Local 132 business manager and secretary-treasurer, accepted a plaque naming the building in his honor at the November 2 dedication ceremony. The plaque will be hung on the wall between the shop and classrooms at the 5,500-square foot facility.

Thompson said 300 apprentice Boilermakers can be turned out each year at the school. Some training will take place at the new facility, the rest on the job working side-by-side with veteran Boilermakers. A rigging frame will be erected outside the facility. APCom Power, a construction firm that specializes in building power plants, will donate the material for the frame.

Gary Haught, the Houston area director for APCom Power, told the Galveston County Daily News that “having the newly-trained work force is a blessing. Not only do the new recruits help fill a desperate need for skilled workers, but APCom knows what type of worker they will get if that worker comes through the training program first.”

The facility is owned and operated by SAJAC and will primarily be used by members of the Lone Star District Lodge. Lone Star represents members of Local Lodges 74 (Houston), 132 (Galveston), 531 (Amarillo), and 587 (Orange). The Paul Wedge Award area apprentice competition will also be held at this new facility this summer.

Thompson says SAJAC director Mike Peterson was instrumental in getting the facility built, and he credits Mike for the success they’ve already seen since the building opened last June.

The Boilermaker’s apprenticeship program was established to promote efficient and high quality field construction work by skilled craftsmen in the boilermaker trade. The four-year program provides an opportunity for a person to work through self-studies, on-the-job training, and participation in classroom instruction at the national training center in Kansas City, Kan., or at local training centers (like the new Rogers facility in LaMarque, Texas) throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on becoming a Boilermaker apprentice, please visit