Q: What do you do here at Sargent and what are your typical responsibilities?
A: I started here in March of 2019. I’m the safety and training director, which is just as complicated as it sounds. When anything safety-oriented comes through this office — like keeping up the OSHA log or making sure people have the right credentials to do the work they’re assigned — I’m in charge of that. I also ensure that our training efforts are sufficiently preparing our people for the work we need them to do.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of your job?
A: Safety is often an extra step in your work. It takes you to places you may not have already been going — safety isn’t always convenient or on the way to the other things you’re doing. Safety often means people have to do something else in addition to their actual work. In that way, I’m always working against human nature, which is a challenge, of course.
Q: What were you up to in your career before you came to Sargent?
A: I’ve been in the trades my entire adult life. I’ve been in construction safety for more than a quarter of a century, and before that, I was an electrician. A company I was working for got a grant to start teaching the OSHA 10 courses, and I was selected to teach those courses. I went to the University of Tennessee for a week to learn how to teach the OSHA 10 and OSHA 30. Shortly after that, I applied for a job in safety for a construction company, and I got it.
Q: What do you like about your job?
A: I work with people, and I find people to be endlessly fascinating. Filling out OSHA forms can be really boring, but people are incredibly interesting. When I was an electrician, I liked it, but it was dull. It didn’t give me anything to talk about. When I’m dealing with people, I never run out of things to talk about.
Q: Why do you like working for Sargent specifically? What sets them apart from the competition?
A: When I first started working here, people would always ask me, “How do you like the new job?” And I would say, “I feel like I died and went to job heaven!” It’s hard to get my arms around exactly what it is that makes Sargent a great company. It’s how everyone is a professional here, and they’re treated like professionals as well.
I think Herb Sargent is a big part of what makes this company successful too. He’s a visionary, and he’s a one-of-a-kind guy. He’s fun to work for. I love being at home and spending time with my wife because I really enjoy her, but at the same time, I’m never dreading going to work on a Monday morning. It’s a new week with new challenges, and I’m excited about it.
Q: Is there any aspect of your career that you’re especially proud of?
A: I’m not a visionary. I haven’t come up with any revolutionary new safety programs or anything like that, but there are definitely some things I’ve taken pride in along the way. It’s kind of hard to quantify my accomplishments though. How many lives have I saved in my career? I have no idea! Is it 37? Is it zero?
It’s a hard thing to get your arms around. There’s no scoreboard that lists how many injuries I’ve prevented. But what I do know is that I feel like I’ve done a noble thing with my career, and nobody has ever died under my watch. I’ve never had to make that dreaded call to a family member, and I will always have a good feeling about that.
Q: Has there ever been anyone in your life that you’ve looked up to or considered to be a mentor?
A: I do, actually. When I first got into safety, the guy I worked for was Yoda-smart. I call him the safety Jedi. That was 25 years ago, and he’s still a friend, even though he’s since retired and moved to Florida. He really showed me the ropes as far as a career in safety is concerned.
Other than that, I’m a consensus builder. I’m not a guy who says, “This is the way things are going to be, and I’m not listening to other ideas.” I like to talk things through, and I always try to listen to everyone who has an opinion about how things should be done.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I’m married and I have two grown adult man-cubs. I also have two grandkids who are teenagers. We spend lots of time together, whether that’s hiking, biking, playing tennis — we like to do healthy activities that get our heart rates up. From the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like the most exciting life, but I get excited by just picking tomatoes in my garden. It doesn’t take much to entertain me.