In 2011, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education released a two-year study entitled Pathways to Prosperity. The study wrestled with the question of whether the traditional four-year college education would meet the future needs of the U.S. workforce. A Huffington Post article on the study reported that:
“While the number of jobs that require no post-secondary education have declined, the researchers note that only one-third of the jobs created in the coming years are expected to need a bachelor’s degree or higher. Roughly the same amount will need just an associate’s degree or an occupational credential.”
An Alleghany County resident could have saved the researchers a considerable amount of time and effort. He knows firsthand the value of occupational training and the impact of professional credentials on one’s career.
Ronald Davis was a member of Alleghany High School’s first graduating class in 1968. By his senior year he only needed an English class to fulfill his graduation requirements. That last year, he rounded out his school days in carpentry class. He left Alleghany High with skills that led to a prosperous career as a custom homebuilder.
After spending a few years honing his construction skills, Ronald stepped out and formed his own business during the 1973 economic downturn. As with many small businesses, cash flow was often a problem. He credits the local building supply companies with working with him during those lean times when money was leaving the business faster than as coming in. Over the years, he had as many as nine employees and when things slowed down he had as few as two. By the time he retired, Ronald had built approximately 150 homes, had completed numerous remodeling jobs and completed projects at a couple of local churches. His work can be seen throughout Alleghany County.
Throughout those years, Ronald tinkered with furniture building and cabinet making. For the most part, he took on these jobs in conjunction with his building and remodeling work. Since his retirement, he has spent more time “repurposing” items he and his wife, Chris, discover in antique and salvage shops. Ronald credits Chris with being able to envision new life for common, everyday items. He says that, “if Chris can see it, I can build it.” He works with reclaimed wood in many of his projects. His innovative use of old doors and beds is stunning.
Ronald takes his mindset of “reclaimed, repurposed, and reusable” a step beyond his furniture making. He can often be seen around Sparta and at cruise-ins in his 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport.
It would be a false assumption to think that Ronald Davis is somehow trying to relive the past through his work or while driving around town in his old Chevy. The fact is that he is very forward thinking. What he recognizes is that many of the old ways and ideas still have merit today, and that there is much beauty in the classic lines of old furniture and cars.
Maybe most important is that he and others in the county realize that “Pathways to Prosperity” mean different things to different people. There is no cookie cutter approach. Ronald has placed on his path back in an Alleghany High School carpentry class in the 1960s. Alleghany High School and Wilkes Community College are still assisting students onto and along that pathway.
Prosperity is a somewhat subjective term. Prosperity for one may be deemed failure to another. As with many ambiguous concepts it is often more understandable when we see a living example. We have to look no further than Ronald Davis. He has experienced a fulfilling career and has left his mark throughout the county. He is living an enjoyable and productive retirement. Most importantly, he has the love of an adoring wife. A picture of prosperity.
For more examples of Ronald Davis’ handiwork visit Studio Redwood on Main Street in Sparta or check them out on Facebook at Studio Redwood, Inc.