(WACO) – There are two years that have been pivotal in Charlie Montgomery’s career.
One was 1978, the year he graduated from what was Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College) with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting and Design.
“I was able to gain knowledge to go forward in life,” said Montgomery, 60, of Lorena.
Then there was 1988. Montgomery’s brother committed suicide, and he felt the need to stop what he was doing and move as far as he could from Waco. So, he moved to Fort Worth, where he lived and worked for four years.
But Waco pulled him back.
“This was home,” he said. “It was where all my family was. I started to get my life in order again.”
He started C.O. Montgomery Construction Services LLC in Lorena in 1995 with a pickup truck, a handsaw and tools, and no employees. He learned quickly how well-developed people skills can help build a business.
“The thing that helped me the most was the Jarrell tornado,” Montgomery said. “I started to learn how to weld. I designed and sold 63 storm shelters.”
He said one of the hardest parts of having a business is the management, from taxes to insurance.
His company has 10 employees and also hires subcontractors. He wants to work with TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program to provide internships and fill needs for estimators.
“Us older guys are dying out,” Montgomery said. “In our day, we sacrificed to do what we had to do to get the job done.”
One of the jobs Montgomery’s company is doing is building Bush’s Chicken locations throughout Texas. The restaurant being built in China Spring is how Bobby Horner, a city of Waco inspection supervisor and classmate of Montgomery’s at TSTC, reconnected after years of taking different career pathways.
“It was neat to see Charlie around,” Horner said. “Charlie has done everything we have asked with the project.”
Keith Bush, founder of Bush’s Chicken, said Montgomery is his preferred builder. Bush’s Chicken uses a standard 3,000-square-foot design for all locations.
“It’s so comfortable and reassuring knowing Charlie is on your project because you don’t have to worry,” Bush said. “With other contractors, you have to worry they will do something that is not in your best interest. He does what is in the best interest in the buildings he builds and the work he does.”
Montgomery grew up in McLennan County and graduated in 1976 from Midway High School.
“I was always artistic and did a lot of drawing,” he said.
He said taking drafting classes at Midway helped prepare him for TSTC.
“The trades are completely ignored,” Montgomery said. “If the schools focused on that, it would help prepare the students.”
He was hired for a drafting job after his first semester in college and after graduation worked for Centurion Mobile Homes in Waco designing mobile homes. One project he remembered was building their own hydraulics testing mechanisms for trusses.
“I had a knack for designing things and laying things out and making it work,” he said.
Montgomery said his later work drafting and designing at Bob Hoover Construction in Waco opened his eyes to the construction side of designing. He said he valued his time observing the building process on-site at projects.
“We need drafting and construction taught together,” Montgomery said. “Each needs to know about the other.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.