John L. du Fief III graduated from Johnson College’s Carpentry and Cabinetmaking Program in 1979. After graduation, he began working at John L. duFief, Inc., a small family-owned construction company that his father established in 1958. In 1988, he took over as President of the company. He is a husband and a father of four and currently resides in Rockville, MD.
You grew up in Maryland. What made you choose the Johnson School (now Johnson College)?
Johnson was recommended by my college counselor. Even though I attended a Catholic prep school, he recognized in me that I really wanted to be in the building trade.
What is your favorite memory of Johnson?
I guess my best memories were just working side by side with other students that had the same passion for learning about my trade, carpentry and cabinetmaking. It was a tough course, those three years, and they really put us through the paces on accuracy, workmanship, keeping your workplace tidy, keeping your tools sharp and in good working order, and always, always, reminding us that our grades were like a paycheck and if you didn’t show up you didn’t get paid, so we were there every day no matter what.
Who was your most influential instructor? Why?
Mr. Simons, He really taught me patience and he encouraged me when I was discouraged. He knew I was “green” and yet he saw the determination within me to learn this trade. I will never be able to thank him enough. I will always remember him, and what he taught me.
How has your education prepared you for your current career at John L. duFief, Inc.?
Johnson College prepared me for the hard times that arose in my career. Good workmanship will always be rewarded. Not all my customers understood this but through time, my work holds up and my reputation for my attention to detail is without equal.
The John L. duFief Bronze Medallion is your signature on the homes that you build. Is there any correlation between the symbols on the medallion and the rigorous training and education you received while at Johnson?
That medallion is our logo that my father designed in 1958, the year he went into business. I am very proud of that logo because it doe say that we are carpenters and we use these basic implements and tools everyday to cut wood, plumb walls, and be sure things are square and true. That we do use our hands to work with our tools and the gifts we have received from God everyday to provide for our families.
In what ways do you give back to your local community? Why is it important to you?
I am involved with our local catholic school and church, where my children attended elementary school. They have called upon me to work in renovating the rectory, the 200 year old chapel, and the school that was built in 1950. I enjoy giving my time there, to the people of my parish and community. It is easy to make a difference in the lives of the priests, faculty and the church community. They are very appreciative and the old buildings are as well.
June 7, 2010 marked thirty-one years since your graduation. Taking into account all of your experience, what piece of advice would you give our current students and recent alumni?
Show up, be on time, if you say you are going to do something, then do it. Be honest, and be humble. Grateful for any job you get. Small jobs lead to big jobs. Never shy away from hard work. Work in order, peace and moderation. Use the talents God gave you. You know what they are, and Johnson College has prepared you to go out and make a name for yourself. One that says, I am here to do things right, the way honest folks want them done.
Do you have a message for the Class of 1979?
To my classmates of Johnson School 1979 I say hello and that I miss them. I think about you guys all the time. We had some great times together and a lot of laughs. If you ever are in D.C. area, please look me up and give me a shout.
John du Fief F-2 1979
P.S. I have not eaten any dog food since that time in the cafeteria!