Patrick Pinnone was wrapping up a five-year stint in the U.S. Marines when he heard about a training program offered by Home Builders Institute (HBI) — an educational arm of American Home Builders.
It was exactly what he was looking for, as he prepared to make the transition to civilian life.
But, there was a problem.
The program wasn’t being offered at Camp Lejeune, the Marine base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where he was stationed.
It was available at Fort Bragg, an Army base just west of Fayetteville, North Carolina, two hours away from his chain of command.
Pinnone was not dissuaded.
“I had to jump through hoops to get my chain of command to approve it,” he recalled.
But, he was persistent and gained approval — and became the first Marine to complete the HBI training.
And, the efforts he put forth during training led to an invitation for a trip to the White House.
He went to the nation’s capital to attend a follow-up ceremony to the July 2018 Pledge to America’s Workers.
That pledge was signed by President Donald Trump and many trade organizations, including the National Association of Home Builders and its workforce development arm, HBI, to show their commitment to create new jobs through apprenticeships, training programs, continuing education and so on.
Pinnone, who lives in Dade City, enjoyed the event.
“It was surreal. I never expected I would ever get a chance to go into the White House,” he said, adding he couldn’t believe he was in the same room as numerous top-ranking government officials, including the president and Vice President Mike Pence.
The president was there for the ceremony, but left quickly after it ended. Pence stayed longer, circulating around the room to shake hands and pose for photos.
Pinnone said he also was impressed by HBI’s training program.
He said students in the program learned skills required for residential construction work, including carpentry, foundations, siding, painting, roofing and drywall.
After finishing the HBI program, he picked up three jobs — including one with Lyle Bleachers Inc., which builds bleachers for gymnasiums and athletic fields throughout Florida.
David Lyle, president of Lyle Bleachers Inc., said the HBI training served Pinnone well.
“I think it definitely prepared him for working in our field, which is a construction-type industry,” Lyle said.
He applauded HBI’s efforts and said he’d like to see an increase in such programs.
“We need hands-on skilled laborers in this country,” Lyle said.
Pinnone said the value of the experience went beyond the skills he learned through the training.
His main takeaway? “The initiative you put out, will pay off in the end,” Pinnone said.
Pinnone, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, is now enrolled at Saint Leo University, where he is studying accounting.
Published August 21, 2019