Q1: How did your career path lead you to Shambaugh & Son?
I needed a job! That was 39 years ago. In 1975, straight out of high school, I started working for a small mechanical contractor in Marion in its fabrication shop delivering material and eventually becoming the fab shop manager. I started an apprenticeship with the Plumbers & Pipefitters in Marion and then one year into my apprenticeship, I transferred to the Sprinkler Fitter apprenticeship program. I called Shambaugh & Son in 1980, while I was laid off, and was hired to work on a project in Toledo, Ohio. I’ve been with Shambaugh ever since. I became the field superintendent in 1982 and I’ve worn many hats over the years before becoming the COO of the Fire Protection division.
Q2: How have things changed for Shambaugh & Son since the COVID-19 pandemic began?
We quickly moved to a mobile workforce with our estimators and designers working from home instead of the office. All project sites implemented the CDC guidelines with face masks and sanitation stations. Our fab shops began temperature checks and installed curtain separators where we didn’t have a six foot physical separation. Our corporate office restricted access with only one entry point into the parking area where every employee or visitor has a temperature scan prior to gaining access to the parking lot.
As essential workers, most of our projects throughout the country remained active. We had projects in Philadelphia and San Francisco that were shut down for a few weeks, and a large project in New York City has actually just re-opened for us (in early June).
Q3: What makes you passionate about fire protection?
Most importantly, the protection of lives and property. Any time there is a fire with multiple fatalities, I know that something more could have been done with the state and local code officials to eliminate these tragedies. Shambaugh has allowed me to be very involved in the fire sprinkler industry. I serve on the National Fire Sprinkler Association’s (NFSA) Engineering and Standards Committee. I’m a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 13) and serve on its Sprinkler System Installation Criteria, NFPA 850 Electrical Generating Plants, NFPA 851 Hydroelectric Generating Plants, NFPA 853 Stationary Fuel Cell Power systems committees, NFPA 409 Airport Facilities, NFPA 423 Standard of Construction & Protection of Aircraft Test Facilities, and NFPA 410 Standard of Aircraft Maintenance. I’m also involved with the Underwriter’s Laboratory Standard Technical Panel, FM Global, and major manufacturers, to research, develop, and bring to market new and more effective fire protection products and systems. Knowledge gained from these committees help keep our clients and Shambaugh’s engineering staff up-to-date with regard to new directions and developments in NFPA and Factory Mutual (FM) Global fire protection standards. Shambaugh’s commitment to the fire protection industry in working with the NFPA technical committees is more than any other contractor in the U.S.
Q4: How do you define success?
Having 2nd and 3rd generation employees, along with long term clients that consider us a partner, has led to the success of our fire protection division. Our success since 2014 is best represented by the growth we’ve experienced. Our fire protection staff has grown from 700 to over 1,600 employees. The commitment of our team to the industry and the growth of our organization over the last five-plus years gives me great pride. Ultimately though, I pride myself in repeat business from our customers as I then know that we’ve delivered what we promised.
Q5: What do the next five years look like for you?
Based on the last five years, it looks like the next five will be just as exciting. I’ll be riding off into the sunset at some point and my focus is to have the right people in place to leave our group in a better place for the next generation. I believe true leadership is when you can look back at the team and the business hasn’t missed a beat since my departure.
Q6: What does an average day look like for you?
Our fire protection division completes over 900,000 square feet of fire protection on an average day. We’ve completed some of the largest, high profile projects in the country -- Amazon (over 200 million square feet) with current work being done on an additional 40 million square feet; the Tesla Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada; rocket launch pads at Cape Canaveral; Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons; Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, home of the Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC; Texas Ranger Stadium in Dallas; and the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, home of the Red Wings and Detroit Pistons.
We currently have 18 offices throughout the country including our newest Las Vegas office which just opened last month. We will also be opening a new large fabrication shop in Trinity, Alabama in September. So as you see, there isn’t an average day when working with our clients, doing project code analysis and planning for the future. That’s one of the things I love about my job — no two days are ever alike.
Q7: Where can you and your family be found in your free time?
My wife and I both travel weekly for work, so we enjoy relaxing, boating and spending time together at Lake James in Angola during the summer months and southwest Florida in the winter.