Student Spotlights

Handyman brings classroom knowledge to his business

By Dan Chavez, Staff Reporter | Photo courtesy of facebook.com

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Construction manage­ment major, John Whitney emigrated from Ireland, has lived in various places within the United States, and now oversees a handy­man and home improve­ment business while com­pleting his degree at CNM, he said.

Whitney said he owns and operates “Mr. Fix It Irish Handyman, LLC,” a business where he does nearly any type of job, from adding a deck to a home or complete res­toration of a kitchen, to roof repair and even landscaping.

“There’s not much we don’t do,” he said.

Whitney said he works 80 hours a week at his busi­ness while attending classes at CNM and working toward a degree in construction man­agement, so that he can be a more efficient and productive manager at his business.

Whitney began his busi­ness after enrolling at CNM, when a few neighbors admired some improvements he did on his own home, he said.

Whitney said CNM courses in English, math, estimating, project man­agement, scheduling, and business law have helped him to become better at his business.

Whitney said he has enjoyed nearly all classes he has attended and the instruc­tors he worked with at CNM have been very good teach­ers who not only gave him knowledge, but also inspired him in many subjects.

“I can’t think of a class I didn’t like,” he said.

He will be graduat­ing in May, but he intends to take further courses occasion­ally to stay up to date for his busi­ness, he said.

“I’ll prob­ably keep chipping away at something, even if it’s online,” he said.

While he immensely enjoys construction and working with his hands, Whitney finds himself spend­ing more time work­ing with the manage­ment side of his busi­ness, he said.

Whitney said these neighbors asked him if he would com­plete some home improve­ment projects on their houses and he accepted.

“I just had some basic tools, and I kind of just went from there. I enjoyed it, meeting people,” Whitney said.

Whitney said he met a website designer and they made a deal in which Whitney completed a few projects and his friend built the website mrfixiti­rishhandyman.com, which has been the company’s main marketing tool.

“He’s worked won­ders for me and he’s a good friend of mine too. Really, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have much of a business,” he said.

He said he understands that he must manage the operations side of his busi­ness now, and leave all the labor to his employees for now at least, in which he has anywhere from two to four temporary employees depending on the amount of work available.

“I take on students and the most I have ever had working for me was five or six guys,” he said.

Whitney’s hometown is located in Leitrim, Ireland’s least populated county, where there is much open land and relatively low crime rates, he said.

“It was a great place to grow up, no major crime,” he said.

Whitney helped con­struct a three-mile long tunnel under Dublin City, Ireland’s longest traffic tunnel, he said.

When Whitney was 17-years-old, his uncle, who was a roofer in Massachusetts, invited Whitney to come to America and work for him, so he made his way to the East Coast, he said.

Whitney then decided on a move to California and lived and worked there for five years, but he began to long for a more rural environment, he said.

In 2009 he decided on a drive to New Mexico, and as he entered the state, one thing he noticed was that people would wave as he drove by, which he had seldom seen since leaving his hometown, he said.

He worked for several months on a large ranch, roping animals, riding horses, and helping with cattle drives, which was an absolutely amaz­ing experience, he said.

Whitney said he met his now wife and because she worked as a teacher in Rio Rancho, he moved to the area and he took this oppor­tunity to attend CNM.

“If it weren’t for that, for her, I would probably still be out there looking at cows,” he said.

Whitney has also dab­bled as an estimator for a paving company and spent two to three months as an extra during the filming of “The Lone Ranger” in a town that was built specifi­cally for the movie, he said.

Whitney said that estab­lishing his company was something of a lucky acci­dent, and now he is deter­mined to take this oppor­tunity that he has made for himself as far as possible.

Whitney said he hopes that he can expand his business to the point where he could hire man­agers and others to run the operations side of the busi­ness, which would allow him the freedom to do what he loves, which is to get back to the job site and work with his hands while overseeing his company.

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