Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council


Being a boilermaker for 32 years is no small accomplishment. Gary Bain has dedicated the greater part of his adult life to working on power plants, and is now teaching the future generations of Boilermakers as an instructor.

Before Bain was an instructor, like many other 24-year-olds, he found himself not knowing what he wanted to do when he grew up. Without a clear career path to follow, Bain knew that the job he was looking for needed to offer opportunities to grow his career and to be able to make a decent living. Looking for guidance, Bain’s relative John Tillman suggested that he apply for an apprenticeship with the Boilermakers.

 “I had no idea what the trade was all about, but I went ahead and put in my application,” Bain says.

Upon graduating from the Boilermakers Western States Apprenticeship program and becoming an official member of Boilermakers Union Local 627, Bain hit the road for the next several years to work on power plants and gain invaluable experience that would later equip him to teach future generations of apprentices.

Bain’s years on the road provided the growth he had been looking for. His leadership skills were being noticed, and his superiors encouraged him to take on leadership roles at jobsites. He decided to become an instructor where he could pass on knowledge gained from his field experience as well as his infectious “can do” spirit to new apprentices.

The Spring class of 2023 marks Bain’s 8th year as an instructor. When asked what he was looking forward to with the freshmen class of 2023 Bain remarks, “Just seeing some new and eager faces and getting to know them. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. And just getting them excited about what they are capable of if they just put their minds to it.” 

The apprenticeship program curriculum teaches students a variety of skills they’ll use on the job, but for Bain, the skill he takes the most pride in teaching his students is rigging.

“What I found is, new apprentices have no clue of how to use the equipment, let alone the names of the tools, “said Bain. “Putting the students through a basic rigging class gives them a good head start and confidence [to be] on the job. But of course, you can’t learn rigging in one class session. It takes years to become competent, therefore I encourage the students to get their hands dirty and not be afraid to handle loads. It’s the only way to learn.”

Bain shares that one of the most rewarding aspects of his role is knowing he had a hand in teaching some of the leaders of his union. “I see some of the students that have gone through my class performing and excelling out in the field. I take pride in knowing I assisted someone in their success,” says Bain.

When Bain looks back at the choices he made to get him to where he is today, he’s grateful that he chose the Boilermaker path. He’s enjoyed a rewarding career that provided a decent living for himself and his family and a is part of a loyal brotherhood.