By: Don Fletcher, Director of Quality Control and Taylor McPherson, Director of Communications & Community Engagement
When considering a career move, a role in the construction industry may not always be at the top of your list. However, this industry has something to offer everyone, and the sky is the limit for opportunities. There’s a long list of reasons why many who join choose to stick around for decades, whether it be collaboration with a team, job security, or creating something that directly impacts our communities. A prime example of what can happen when you willingly dive into the industry is Don Fletcher.
Don joined our team back in 2011 as a project engineer. Fast forward 10 years later, and he now serves as Director of Quality Control, overseeing efforts that span across our entire operation, along with sister company Lehman-Roberts.
While Don’s positions have changed over his fruitful career, he has always had a hand in ensuring quality in our operations one way or another – whether that was through detailed planning as a project manager, overseeing paving operations as a project superintendent, or even through relationships he has built. We recently sat down with him to hear more on his personal experience with the company and his team.
After graduating from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (B.S.C.E.). “I call it divine intervention that I’m here,” said Don. “I was doing odd jobs trying to find work after the economy crash of 2008. At the time, Lehman-Roberts needed someone to help with the largest project they had to date on Lamar. I’ve been here ever since.”
There’s got to be some company secret that’s keeping people around for years. Can you share what you think that is?
“One of the main reasons I think people come here and stay is because of the people that work here. We’re all alike and have the same values for the most part. We all try to help each other and raise each other up. If someone makes a mistake, they try to help you and not push the blame. That’s a tremendous feeling knowing that you have people that will back you up… because I’ve made mistakes. The big thing is: did we learn from it?”
Can you share how the company’s core values have touched you personally?
“Our core values are humility, continuous improvement, stewardship, and relationships. I like to think that mine are pretty close to that.”
Don went on to share how a focus on core values at work also hit home with his personal values and how those ultimately tie back into the four listed above. “One of the things people don’t often think about is: Do you know what your personal values are? One of mine is not being prepared for a meeting and wasting people’s time. That ties back to relationships. I value your time and you value mine.”
Tell us a bit about why you love your job.
“I like being outside and the mixture of being in the office. I also like building things and I’m a hands-on person. The fun part of what I get to do is experimenting and trying new techniques and technology. I’ve also had job security. Over time I’ve realized that we’re always going to need roads and airports. People don’t think about it, but we all drive to work, church or school on something that our company has built. Something you’ve [created] has helped people get back and forth safely. That’s why I ended up staying in this business.”
What would you say to someone looking to get into this industry?
“I would tell college students – or anyone for that matter – to keep your options open, don’t lock yourself in. Get in the industry and see the opportunities – there’s so many at our company.”
He went on to share how the building blocks of success take time to achieve. “A lot of people get discouraged early on, but you miss opportunities when you don’t grind it out. I didn’t end up being Director of Quality Control overnight. It’s taken me time to learn. I think that something a lot of people might miss now is what you can learn from others and get out of the industry. What lesson can you take away from today or tomorrow? It’s not always easy, but the benefits are great. You can make good money and be successful. Ultimately, you get out there with a group of guys and next thing you know, you’re a good team and you’ll bend over backwards for each other.”
What type of training opportunities does the company offer?
“We started training on an emotional level three or four years ago. Not only are we talking about asphalt and rocks every day, but we’re challenging you every day to think about [personal development]. Yeah, I’m an employee here, but I’m developing myself as well. We talk about life skills and people skills. It’s not only helped me change the way I communicate here at work, but it’s also helped me at home. That’s another layer of working here…. The people development. You communicate better, you’re more efficient, and you better understand each other.”
How do you give your team the tools to be successful?
“I think the leadership team, and I also, try to recognize unique talent in people when we hire them. I try to make sure my team grows and that there’s opportunities for them. I’m not going to hold them back, because I wasn’t held back. I want them to see that there’s opportunity for them or that they can progress. And that’s all it takes. I’m thankful for the company for believing in me and giving me a chance.”
Don also recently sat down with the Daily Helmsman to discuss his journey with our family of companies, which you can read about here.
Learn more about joining our family of companies. Openings starting at $15/hour, depending on your level of experience and position: https://www.lehmanroberts.com/openings/