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An airport carpenter is flying high in Detroit

Member-provided photo. Mick Nephew and his team at work at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
An airport carpenter is flying high in Detroit
By Pete Levine ·

Mick Nephew says his job at Detroit Metropolitan Airport is “the best job I’ve ever had.” For the veteran tradesman, whose career spans close to 30 years, that’s saying a lot.

Now a foreman of the four-person carpenter shop at the airport, represented by AFSCME Local 953 (Council 25), Nephew leads a team that’s responsible for making sure the physical infrastructure of the airport meets the needs not only of its passengers, but also its employees.

That involves everything from remodeling or building offices for airport staff, removing or adding flooring, tiling, installing mechanical doors, erecting breezeways – you name it.

And while Nephew says his job ranks among the best he’s had as a builder, his colleague, John Langbeen, a fellow carpenter, says Nephew is the best at it.

“He never stops going,” says Langbeen. “He’s always doing something. He’s a great guy.”

Nephew’s work ethic is part of the reason Langbeen nominated his co-worker for AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award.

“We start at 7 a.m. every morning. He’s always there,” says Langbeen. “He comes into the shop early. He’s always a step ahead of us, just trying to be proactive in the morning. He’s always going the extra mile.”

Langbeen explains that he and Nephew started at the carpenter’s shop (there’s an electrician’s shop, an HVAC shop, a plumber’s shop and other trades at the airport) at about the same time in 2018. From the get-go, Nephew has been setting an example for Langbeen and his other co-workers.

Where does Nephew’s drive come from?

“It’s from the real world,” says Nephew, who spent many years in the private construction business. “Maybe it’s my generation, but you have to work hard to get promoted. People notice. I always wanted to get better and my hard work paid off. That’s the way I look at it. You have to work for what you want.”

Both Nephew and Langbeen appreciate the variety of work that comes their way and the tempo that comes with working at the airport.

“It’s great working at the airport,” says Nephew. “It’s an excellent atmosphere. It’s always busy, and there’s always something going on.”

From time to time, when they’re working in the actual airport, they get to mingle with passengers who pass through DTW, though they’re spared passengers’ fury when delays happen.

Now that Nephew has recently been promoted to foreman, he’s got more on his plate, but his goal is as clear as ever: “I just want to set an example for my guys in my shop.”

According to Langbeen, he’s succeeding.

Never Quit Service Award

Know a co-worker who goes above and beyond the call of duty to make their community better?