Q: What do you do here at Sargent? What are your typical responsibilities?
A: My primary role is operations manager for the Bangor area with some project management responsibilities, as needed. As an operations manager, I am responsible to provide the personnel and equipment needed to execute our projects as safely and efficiently as possible and to meet the needs of our clients. As operations managers, we are also responsible to coordinate our needs with the other regions to be sure we are doing what is best for our employee-owners. I am also responsible for business development in my area.
Q: What are the common challenges you face in your role?
A: Maximizing our crew’s efficiency with the number of variables on a project that are outside of our control. If we expose an unknown utility, encounter a utility conflict, unsuitable soils, or ledge, for instance, our schedule can be set back a day or several which decreases our efficiency and has a ripple effect on other projects needing these resources. Inclement weather or slippage in a subcontractor’s schedule has the same effect. When we are very busy it is also difficult to keep in touch with the crew to make sure they are doing okay, are happy with their work and life in general.
Q: What were you doing in your career before joining Sargent?
A: I started working for Herb in August of 1993. I had just graduated from the University of Maine in May, worked for another site contractor for a couple of months, and then hunted Herb down for a job. I literally had to hunt him down to see if he’d hire me. It’s kind of a funny story. After several attempts to reach him by phone over a month’s time, I drove 3 hours to Bangor to find him. As providence would have it, I ran into one of his employee’s (Kevin Gordon) at a construction supply store who directed me to the site Herb was on. I caught him on the site and the rest is history.
The company was called Sargent & Sargent at that time and just over a year old. It was a much smaller company back then and afforded me great opportunities to grow as you had to wear multiple hats to get things done and Herb is not afraid to let you try new things. I started as a junior foreman gradually taking on some surveying responsibilities, then estimating and project management.
In 2003, I accepted a job offer doing vertical construction in southern Maine where I grew up. I quickly learned that I enjoy earthwork, concrete and structural steel. The phases of construction after that did not hold my interest. Consequently, in 2005, my brother and I started our own concrete company which is where I say I earned a master’s degree in life and business. Self-employment is a wonderful, merciless teacher. I learned a lot about people, I learned to value people. I always strived to be the best employee I could be for Herb, but after running my own business I learned I could be much better.
In 2012, my family and I moved back to the Bangor area. I was fortunate to be rehired by Herb as a project manager and have been here since.
Q: What excites you about your job? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: The people. I love the people I work with. I am very blessed to work with the people I work with. The work itself is hard, but I enjoy the challenges too. I’m not going to say that we work in construction heaven, but it’s fun to do hard work with a bunch of people who are all on the same page and are ready to take the hill with you. It’s exciting and rewarding.
Q: What makes Sargent such a great company to work for?
A: I think the world of Herb. I have the utmost respect for him. He has a unique ability to set the tone for the company. He cares about his people and that shows in how he treats us. I feel he is always encouraging us to pursue excellence, not just as a company but as individuals as well.
Q: Is there any aspect of your career that you’re particularly proud of?
A: I guess I can’t identify any one thing that stands out more than what anyone else could have accomplished. I have been part of a team that has constructed some unique and very challenging projects and for that I am proud.
Q: Is there anyone in your life that you consider to be a mentor?
A: In the company, Herb and Kevin Gordon really showed me the ropes. They have both had a tremendous influence on me; my work ethic and how I approach my work. On my first day working here, I went to work for Kevin who was the project superintendent and who now runs our construction academy and is the heart and soul of our workforce advancement initiatives. When Herb brought me to the site my first day, he instructed me that if I wanted to succeed in this company to pay attention to and replicate Kevin. That is what I have tried to do for 18 years, but at the end of the day, I am not Kevin Gordon. He’s in a league of his own.
As the company grew, we tackled larger and more complicated projects. I was doing a lot of estimating and surveying, and I would be Kevin’s shadow. I took some of the project management responsibilities from him so that he could stay focused on production. Then, when he became an operations manager, I worked as his project manager. Kevin has had a huge influence on my career.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: More than anything, I just like spending time with my wife. This industry requires you to work a lot of hours, a lot of late nights and weekends and she is a special woman to tolerate it. I have four adult children and two foster kids (in the process of adopting) that I love and enjoy hanging out with. I thoroughly enjoy being with my family. Other than that, I am pretty involved in my church and when I get some time to myself, I like to play guitar, hunt, and fish.