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Dirty-hands service is grad Brad Pettee’s future -- and present

Brad Pettee works 20-25 hours a week at Mike’s Standard Service, where he’s weekend night manager and handles the big tow truck. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Chuck Nowlen)

Brad Pettee is a leader at Hudson High School, but he’d prefer to avoid the limelight.

“I’m real quiet and reserved,” the 18-year-old graduating senior explains. “I mean, I’m sociable, but I don’t need a huge reputation. As far as I’m concerned, the less ego the better.”

Besides, Pettee is usually too busy helping people and getting his hands dirty. In addition to his classroom studies, he puts in more than 40 hours most weeks at two jobs -- at Mike’s Standard Service on Coulee Road and at Gagnon Inc. on Walnut Street. The work qualifies for credit in the high school’s Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Pettee is also president of the local Explorer’s Program, which gives 15- to 21-year-olds the chance to learn about fire service, earn a first-responder certificate and go on calls. That’s another “10 to 20 hours at most,” he says.

“I can’t sit still,” Pettee laughs during an interview at Mike’s Standard, where he’s done just about everything imaginable since he was 13.

These days, he’s weekend night manager, but his specialty is handling the big red tow truck. He takes a lot of pride in it, too.

“If you’re stuck at the side of the road, who’s going to help you?” he shrugs matter-of-factly. “That’s me.”

Pettee gives a lot of credit for his work ethic to owner Mike Sime, whose grandson played youth hockey with Brad and who offered him a job out of the blue one day.

“Mike’s a go-getter,” he notes. “He pushes you. He works you which is a good thing.”

Pettee’s core role model, though, is his dad Shawn, a Hudson police officer, volunteer firefighter and firearms instructor at Bill’s Gun Shop and Range on Crest View Drive. His mom Marie is a Hudson School District human resources assistant.

Firefighting work came naturally to Brad; his father started taking him along on calls when he was “eight to 10 years old.”

“I’d be out of bed before he was, just itching to go,” Brad says.

Responsibility also came naturally: “I always mowed lawns. I’d be outside until people’s outside lights went on. Sometimes, I’d be out, and I’d hear my dad whistle for me from two or three blocks away. I’d run right home.”

Pettee hopes to sign on with a local volunteer fire department soon. He’ll also enroll in Dakota County Technical College to become an electrical line worker. It’s a 10-month course, followed by a four-year apprenticeship.

“I’ll be the guy that puts the power back on at your house when it’s down,” he says proudly.

His dream, though, is to run his own towing company someday: “I like relying on myself. I hate asking people for money, and I didn’t want a desk job. For me, it’s about finding something you love -- and doing it.”

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

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