Doug Orr '99
Doug Orr, of Lexington, graduated from Minuteman High School in 1999 after majoring in Carpentry. He worked with contractors through high school in the Cooperative Education (Co-Op) program and began working as a project manager shortly after graduation. At age 21, he launched his own business, Orr Homes LLC, which specializes in custom, luxury homes that continues to operate today. He is a member of Minuteman’s Carpentry Advisory Committee.
Q. Why did you choose to attend Minuteman High School?
I chose Minuteman because I was always more of a hands-on person. I had a pretty good direction of what I wanted to do from very early on. I wasn’t sure if I should choose Horticulture or Carpentry, but I chose Carpentry and I excelled at it. I was out on co-op (working at a job site for school credit) from the earliest possible time I could, in my junior year, but I started working for contractors (outside of school) when I was a freshman.
Q. What was it like as a new student?
Your freshman year, everybody is in the same boat. Everyone is starting something new. It’s an amazing experience. If you go to your town’s high school, it’s all the same people, but everybody gets a new start at Minuteman their freshman year. And, everybody who is there chooses to be there. They weren’t told to be there. That’s very important. If you are motivated and want to learn, you’re going to get what you need.
Q. How did you start your own business?
I started my own business at 21 and there’s been no looking back. It was scary at first. I didn’t have a business degree, but I knew how to build houses. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can do anything with determination.
At 24, I bought my first piece of real estate and I sold it to Claude Julien, who was the head coach of the Boston Bruins at the time. He was great. He understood young talent and that’s what I was at 24 years old. To be someone of his stature who had experience with luxury homes in the past, he wanted to connect with somebody who understood hard work, determination, and accuracy – everything I stand for. To have his home inspection pass with flying colors and to have him come back and say he was proud to have bought the house, that was rewarding.
Q. Why do you focus on luxury homes and what are you working on now?
The company I worked for through high school was predominantly a high-end construction company. When I was in co-op at Minuteman, I worked on multi-million-dollar estates. That was the level I was fortunate enough to get my start in. Right now, we are working on the Tuttle Lane project in Lynnfield, which will be completed with nine luxury homes.
Q. How high is the demand for construction industry careers?
There is a drastic shortage of talent in this country when it comes to home construction and the trades in general. Locally, we don’t have the labor we need. It’s absolutely vital for kids to see these amazing opportunities and have the mindset and excitement to do this type of work. If you get an early start at a vocational-technical school like Minuteman, you’re at a great advantage. The way it’s going, pretty soon people are going to pay more per hour for a plumber than they are for an attorney. Rates are going through the roof because of the labor shortage. If you’re licensed and got your required hours in, you can get top dollar for the skills you have.
Q. What advice would you give to current middle or high school students?
If you think you like something but you’re not sure, try it anyways. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? It can be a tough road, but if you want to pursue a trade, the end result will be worth it. Always focus on the bigger picture.