Q: What do you do here at KLE? What are your typical responsibilities?
A: Currently, I’m a foreman. Before that, I was a pipelayer and an operator. That’s what I was originally hired to do. I started working here in March 2020 and they made me a foreman a few months later in August.
I oversee and supervise the installation of pipes, culverts, sewer lines, storm lines, and more. I’m also responsible for overseeing the land development that goes on around the job sites.
Q: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: The hardest part is maintaining a well-organized schedule to meet not only KLE’s internal expectations but also our clients’ expectations.
Q: What was your work history like before you came to KLE?
A: I’ve been in construction — particularly underground utilities, as well as commercial development of underground utilities — for the past 10 years. A couple of years ago, I took a year off and attended Everett Community College in Washington for construction management and construction mathematics. My goal was to get the education I needed to combine with my field experience to become a general foreman for major job sites. Before all of that, I was a Marine.
Q: What do you enjoy about your job?
A: My favorite part of my job is running equipment. Also, I love to see the final product and look back on how it was just an empty site before we got there. There are so many aspects of this industry that I enjoy.
I started as a laborer’s apprentice, worked my way up to a pipelayer, to an operator, to a pipe foreman, to a site foreman — I’ve really been able to see this industry from the lowest point of view all the way up to where I am now. Today, I really enjoy guiding the younger guys and helping them develop that same passion for envisioning and completing a project.
Q: What sets KLE apart from other companies in the construction industry?
A: The biggest thing for me is that KLE gave me a shot to be a foreman. Back where I’m from in Washington, it’s really hard to get a foreman’s position at my age because it’s solely reserved for the older guys. When KLE hired me, we sat down and I told them what my personal goals were, what I was looking forward to doing, and the experience I was looking for.
The fact that they gave me a shot makes me really proud to work here. They were willing to go out on a limb and say, “We’re willing to let you have a go at this job that has a lot of responsibility, but we’ll help you as much as you need along the way.” I have really appreciated that opportunity, and it’s given me a lot of respect for this company and the people who work here.
Q: Are there any projects that stick out in your mind as jobs you’ve really enjoyed or taken pride in?
A: I can definitely tell you the most fun I’ve had on a job! It was here with KLE when I got the opportunity to operate a Hitachi 470 excavator. We were doing a big cut on one of our road construction projects. I had never operated anything that big before.
My foreman asked me if I thought I could run it, and I just hopped in and had a blast. We were loading 130-160 trucks a day and I enjoyed loading every one of them. I felt really good at the end of that day. Back home in Washington, we just didn’t have machines that big — we didn’t get to do anything on that kind of scale. I had a ton of fun operating that 470, and I also took a lot of pride in my ability to run it safely and efficiently.
Q: Is there anyone that you’ve looked up to as a mentor throughout your life?
A: When I signed on with KLE in March, it was actually because of a guy named Don Lial who has known the owners since they started the company. I worked for him in Washington for about five years before I came to KLE, and he taught me everything I know about job site discipline, utility installation, and how to be efficient as an operator.
Even now that I’m a foreman, when I’m doing paperwork, I think back to watching how he did paperwork! Whenever I’m having trouble figuring something out on the job site, I think, “What would Don do in this situation?” I always want KLE to be happy with my work, of course, but I’m almost more concerned with what Don would say about it. [laughs]
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: I have a son and I like to spend as much time with him as possible. When I do have free time to myself, I’m a private firearms instructor, a gunsmith, and an armorer for several different brands of firearms, like Glock, HK, and Smith and Wesson. I teach firearm instruction and firearm safety, I help people with their first firearm purchase, and I help people learn how to physically store their firearms. I learned a lot about firearms in the Marines, and I love sharing that knowledge with anyone who wants to learn about it.