Graduating from the program of your choice and owning a business in your field three years later is a nearly dream-like situation for post-secondary students. Paul Clark, a Durham College Machinist program graduate was able to accomplish this feat.
Clark is the part owner and operator of Eagle Machining Inc. in Concord, the same shop where he honed his craft.
Before attending Durham College, Paul spent 11 years working at golf clubs and country clubs as a pro shop technician and in the back shop, envying people spending their days golfing.
He then started working at Clarke Industries as a welder and that’s where he met Joe Szarka, then owner of Eagle Machining Inc. who took Clark under his wing as a machinist apprentice and encouraged him to get into school.
While in school Clark continued working with Szarka as his eighth and final apprentice.
Paul graduated from Durham College’s former Machinist program in 2008 after already becoming Red Seal certified in 2007. Out of an original class of 36 only eight machinists made it to graduation.
In 2013 Clark was awarded the title Alumni of Distinction at Durham College for his successes in his field and career.
The machinist program has since been phased out due to minimal enrolment at Durham, though the college still offers General Machinist apprentice training.
When Szarka reached retirement he offered his employees Clark and Zbig Bloch the opportunity to buy him out.
“He’d been mentioning it for a few years. It took him awhile,” said Clark.
Clark and Bloch bought out the company and brought a new school approach, including introducing a computer to the shop, while sticking to the one-on-one business approach and staying committed to excellence through hard work and exceptional customer relations.
“We mainly service factories, engineers, anybody who’s got a machine,” said Clark.
A lot of Eagle Machining’s customers are returning clients.
“We have a long established list of customers,” said Bloch.
Under the new ownership Clark and Bloch have about 60 jobs on the go at a time and that can lead to a large workload.
“The days are getting long. We start at seven, we finish at five, this is how we operate,” said Bloch.
Clark has searched for new apprentices with little luck as of yet.
Fewer and fewer colleges have the machinist program anymore for the same reason as Durham College. Sheridan College being the last one in the area to still have it, which makes the process of searching for an apprentice difficult.
Although Clark currently has less time to golf, he is happy being a business owner and will eventually get around to making himself the putter he’s been meaning to for a while.