Jim Braley - Sargent

Jim Braley

Operations Manager, Bangor Area

Q: What do you do here at Sargent? What are your typical responsibilities?
A: I’m an operations manager, and my role is mostly based on managing our resources. I need to keep track of where our equipment is, and trying to arrange that equipment and our manpower in a fashion that maximizes our efficiency in the field. I keep projects on schedule, and I also still do some project management work, based on my availability.

Q: What are the common challenges you face in your role?
A: The biggest challenges are having more work than time, or having more work than resources. You can’t be profitable if you have a bunch of crews and equipment sitting on the bench. Finding a way to keep everybody busy is a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun for me. The other challenge is how short our season is up here. We have to fit in 12 months of work into eight or nine months, so that ramps up the intensity a bit.

Q: What were you doing in your career before joining Sargent?
A: I started working here back in 1993. I went to the University of Maine in Orono for construction management. After that, I got my start as a junior foreman with Sargent right out of college and worked my way up the ranks from there.

I did leave for about nine years before coming back in 2012. In between, I worked for a friend who had a concrete business, and I helped him run that company. I think of that period of my career almost like getting a Master’s degree. I learned that self-employment teaches you a lot. I have always strived to be the best employee I could be for Sargent, but that other part of my career taught me how to watch every single cent.

Q: What excites you about your job? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: I’m 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 always fun to do hard work with a bunch of people who are all on the same page as you are.

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.

Q: Is there any aspect of your career that you’re particularly proud of?
A: I wouldn’t say that I have any trophies or placards on the wall, but there are some projects I’ve worked on that have been really cool. There was a golf course project we did that was a lot of fun, and there was a recent hospital expansion job that I really enjoyed too. I take pride in those different or challenging projects.

Particularly when I was a project manager, my mantra has always been that if people don’t know me, that means things are going pretty well. I certainly don’t need any sort of spotlight on me.

Q: Is there anyone in your life that you consider to be a mentor?
A: In the company, Kevin Gordon really showed me the ropes. On my first day working here, I went to work for Kevin. He was a field foreman and superintendent, and he was also involved with Sargent Academy. I remember him going through those same paces with me so that I could learn everything I needed to know.

As the company grew, we got bigger and better 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 the office 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. I work a truckload of hours, and she’s a special woman to tolerate that. I also have four kids and two foster kids that it looks like we’ll end up adopting, and I love all of those kids to pieces. I thoroughly enjoy being with my family. Other than that, when I get some time to myself, I like to spend it playing guitar.