As the saying goes, “Give a person an inch and they’ll take a mile.” That’s exactly what Al Becklin did when he was offered a two-week plumbing assignment at the University of Minnesota after being laid-off. He’s worked at the U long enough to celebrate 20 years as an employee last month.
A graduate of Spring Lake Park High School, Becklin competed in football, basketball and track and field as a teenager. He won a state championship as a member of Spring Lake Park’s 4 x 220 relay team his junior year. Becklin went on to attend Dunwoody Institute for five years, then apprenticed en route to becoming a licensed plumber.
A commercial plumber for contractors over the next 13 years, Becklin worked on such recognizable projects as LaSalle Plaza, Laurel Village and a remodel of the State Theater. He appreciates the variety of work he encounters at the U, compared to what he saw in commercial plumbing.
“You never know what you are going to do from day-to-day (at the U),” commented Becklin. “It’s always something different. In commercial plumbing, you could be working on the same thing for 4-5 weeks.”
Becklin started out working for FM Construction for five years before spending nine years in the East Bank District. He returned to U Construction a few years ago.
Having gotten into plumbing because he likes to work with his hands, Becklin admits that things have changed over the years for plumbers. Now, even plumbers need to know how to use a computer. This transition was somewhat of a blessing in disguise for Becklin, who said that if he didn’t need to use a computer to order parts at work, he wouldn’t know how to use his home computer.
Married for 20 years now, Becklin met his wife, Evy, at a Halloween party thrown by fellow plumber Mike Kranz. He returned the favor years later by letting Kranz know about a job opening at the U for which he was eventually hired.
The couple hunts, fishes and rides ATV’s together. Becklin is proud to have been able to teach his step-son Michael, 26, how to hunt and fish, just like Evy’s father had taught her.
“My wife is my hunting buddy,” said Becklin. “Her father was a big fisherman back in Norway. He rode ships around the world as a merchant seaman.”
The couple lives in Fridley, but they also have a cabin in McGrath, near Lake Mille Lacs, where they spend most of their weekends. Becklin estimates that he is only home about six weekends out of the year. Once again, given an inch of time away from home, Becklin manages to take a mile.