Matt Doehring is community oriented.
Geographically, Doehring is a proud member of the community of Sparks. It’s the Rail City’s unique, small-town atmosphere that the life-long resident credits with keeping him in the area after graduating from Sparks High School in the 1980s.
Professionally, Doehring is tasked with the well being of northern Nevada’s sheet metal worker community. As the Business Manager for the local chapter of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) union, Doehring serves as the elected representative for union members in negotiations with contractors from local businesses.
And it’s as a member of both communities that Doehring will brave cold winter mornings to volunteer with other SMWIA members for the seasonal Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful tree recycling station at the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex over the next few weeks.
It’s all about giving back.
“(I do) whatever I can do to try and make things as best as possible under any circumstances,” Doehring said. “As you start to get older, you start to think about giving back … It just feels right.”
Doehring first joined the local construction community when he was offered the chance to participate in SMWIA’s professional apprenticeship program by the union’s business manager at the time. After having discovered his penchant for sheet metal working while taking classes at Truckee Meadows Community College, Doehring was accepted to the apprenticeship program where he received four years of specialized training while working in the professional field. After becoming certified as a professional journeyman, he joined the local construction industry where he was employed by local companies like Gallagher Sheet Metal, Applied Mechanical and D&D Roofing and Sheet Metal.
In 2007, Doehring made the jump from local construction worker to union representative. Though it’s a labor of love, it’s no easy task.
“It’s much different than working in the construction field. It’s always a challenge,” Doehring said of his role as SMWIA’s business manager. “It’s a huge responsibility because every train of thought and every decision is based on not just an individual member, but also (how it will affect) their families. Everything in the construction industry has to be taken into context.”
The SMWIA has seen a rough time in the last five years. According to Business Development Manager Rob Benner, the union is down to one-third of the membership it had before the onset of the 2008 recession, losing membership in proportion to the decline of construction jobs in the area. Though Doehring believes the declining construction market is finally starting to level out, there’s no doubt that the widespread impact of economic decline has taken a toll, both on membership numbers and on the overall industry attitude.
“Some of the main social issues impact us no different than anyone else. It’s been kind of a struggle to keep a focus not on where we are now, but where we want to be in the future,” Doehring said.
Doehring and Benner hope that by encouraging volunteer efforts they can strengthen community ties within the SMWIA, boost member morale and inspire lasting volunteer efforts in the surrounding community.
“You often don’t see (other members) outside of work, so this gives them the opportunity to get together and hang out,” Benner said. “It also makes them feel good about themselves because they get to give back to the community.”
The SMWIA has been increasing volunteer efforts since Benner took office about a year ago, and members have since participated in a number of community events, including a Washoe County School District book drive and the KTMB E-Waste recycling days. This is the second year in a row that they have helped collect Christmas trees.
Doehring, for one, is looking forward to the repeat opportunity.
“Everyone who comes to drop off their tree is always in a great mood ... It’s just an overall fun day,” he said. “It makes my heart smile at the end of the day to know that I’ve given back to the community.”
Matt Doehring’s Favorites
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Past Times: Hunting and Fishing
Favorite Car: ’68 Dodge Charger
Favorite Band: April Wine
Favorite Home Town Event: Rib Cook-Off