Like most kids entering high school, Cody Yax had no idea what career path he would follow. Then he decided to enroll in carpentry, mostly to get out of taking a math class. It changed his life.
Yax got involved with SkillsUSA, a nonprofit national education association serving middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled-service occupations. As a senior in 2013, he took first place for in the SkillsUSA Michigan State Carpentry Competition, which earned him the opportunity to compete at the SkillsUSA National Championships, where Haskell plays a significant role in sponsoring and administering the event.
Haskell’s team, including Tim Mosley, Senior Manager of Field Personnel, took notice of Yax and talked with him about joining them. A couple of months later, his mother drove him from Michigan to Killingly, Connecticut, where he went to work for Haskell as a Carpenter’s Helper on a project for longtime client Frito Lay.
“Up until then, all I had done was residential carpentry, so I was a little overwhelmed at first,” Yax said. “But when I saw the potential, it got more and more interesting. I started learning the Haskell way. People were taking me under their wing and teaching me.”
He was subsequently promoted to Carpenter and in 2017 became a Foreman on the refurbishment of the Hale Koa Hotel Maile Tower, a hotel for active and retired members of the United States Armed Forces in Honolulu, Hawaii. Doing the work while guests occupied half of the hotel made the project a challenge, he said, but he enjoyed living in Hawaii for 18 months, spending his time off at the beach or playing golf. He also developed a liking for his trademark Hawaiian shirts.
Roger McDonnell, Director of Construction for Haskell’s Federal Division, said Yax has an easy-going personality but when presented with a challenge, “he’s super proactive and figures out how to work past it.”
Those qualities were invaluable when he was assigned as an Assistant Superintendent for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) on a U.S. Marine Corps aircraft maintenance hangar project in Beaufort, South Carolina.
“The project has been long and challenging,” McDonnell said. “But Cody would discover an issue, design a solution and call the government people, the subcontractors and the Haskell people and get it resolved.”
While he was in South Carolina, his parents in Michigan developed health problems.
“He left to go help them, and we supported him. We believe you should take care of your family,” McDonnell said. “That’s one of our values.”
Yax said that in less than two weeks, he was on his way to Michigan. “Haskell cares about my family, and they took care of me so I could take care of them.”
He is now superintendent of an expansion of the Frito-Lay distribution center in Plymouth, Michigan.
When he’s not at work, Yax enjoys boating and singing karaoke.
“Ever since I was young, there were always musical influences around me,” Yax said. “Every family party we had, we would play poker and sing karaoke. That’s family tradition.”
And karaoke is a fun way to interact with people, he said. “It brings people out of their shell. It helps build morale and confidence.”
One of the things that Yax is proudest of is serving on Haskell’s SkillsUSA committee, which gives him the chance to work with young people. He recently spent a week with fellow team members administering the 2022 SkillsUSA National Carpentry Championship at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
“When I was coming out of school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Yax said. “Once I got lined up with Haskell, they have guided me to a career I never thought I would have. It’s nice to be able to get with the kids and help put them on the career path where they want to be.”
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