From a carpenter to a customized picture framer

Changing careers after a lay off

Like so many other people, Robert Leech found himself out of a job when the Lillooet Veneer Plant closed in June 2009. But instead of waiting for the mill to re-open, Leech, who had been the carpenter at Ainsworth Lumber, began taking courses and found a new career.

"They offered the older workers program at the Lillooet Employment Centre and they set me up with a course in Kamloops," Leech said. This course lasted for seven weeks and taught him the basics re-entering the workforce plus basic computer skills.

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After taking this first course, Leech went to Edmonton, Alberta for a three-week course to learn about what really interested him - picture framing.

"I didn't realize everything that was involved, " said Leech. "You have to go through all the colors and get everything to match. Now I see a picture and colors start going through my mind to see what would go with it, what would bring it out."

Since opening his business, Framed In Time, last year, Leech has framed numerous projects. These have included everything from picture framing to shadow box framing uniforms for Lillooet Secondary School. Leech can also transfer pictures onto canvas, transfer photos onto coasters, plasticize posters, as well as frame special items such as baby moccasins.

All the picture framing is done with acid free materials, of which Leech has a large selection on display. Although Leech would like to have his clients pick out the colors and frames, he says that almost everyone has left those decisions up to him. When someone brings a picture to Leech, he sets it down for a while and starts to think about the colors that will go with it.

"Every time I go to a place now I look at the pictures and say 'gee I can do better than that'," laughed Leech.

Leech says that he really likes framing and says he finds it relaxing. "Sometimes you just sit in here and you forget about the time," he said.

"It sure beats working on the toilet at the mill," he laughed.

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