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Focus - Arias Geoprofessionals

image John Landwermeyer, Managing Principle Austin Operations, Arias Geoprofessionals, Austin, TX

AUSTIN - He’s never met a superintendent who wasn’t as smart as a whip. If you are a general superintendent you must know about earthwork, concrete, framing, mechanical, electrical, etc. The list is endless because it is an industry that rises from the ground to the final punch list.

 

 

 

 

    Yes, construction has a rough, loud and dirty reputation, but it’s the knowledge that overpowers all of it. “If you think that it is easier than going to get a college degree in engineering; then I’d disagree with you. It’s extraordinarily difficult.”

Why aren’t people getting into the industry? 

    Partly, because it’s a lot harder than people imagine. These guys have to get up before the sun and work through the night. It’s literally sweat, blood, tears, dirt and rust. They are not walking into a chrome glass building.

What does the industry need to do to attract the youth?
    You have to get a taste of it when you are young. And because of its reputation, we don’t allow young people to get exposed to it. If Jesus Christ were growing up in Austin today, he wouldn’t be a carpenter because nobody would let him swing a hammer. Construction has made tremendous strides in safety improvement. People in the business should be free in saying, ‘Hey put on your hard hat and follow me.’ We need to let them shadow. I see interns on job sites, such as civil engineering and architecture students. When you’re in school and in college, especially as a freshman, you’re taking calculus, chemistry, and physics; you have no idea what you are going to be getting into.

Does Arias Geoprofessionals have an intern program?
    We have hired interns. One of our large commercial projects had an on-site intern from Texas Tech and she was a freshman. She was out there all summer long and as best as I can tell she was walking around catching the disease. That’s what happened to me. I was studying civil engineering and I had no idea what I was going to be doing. I got the pleasure of working on a remodeling job here in Austin. Construction is construction; you go out there, convert and you build something.

What are the takeaways?

    Overall the takeaways interns receive from any company add up to their realization of what role they want to play in the industry. We get college degree applicants for entry-level jobs and I know that their potential is too high, that they will likely move on. All the better if we can get students exposed to entry-level work, so they can make informed career choices after graduation.

How have the women who’ve joined the business helped educate the industry?
    With women joining the business we have to clean up our act a bit. Us guys can’t run this place like a dorm room with ladies in our presence. The women I know in this business are super smart. Some of the most admirable women I know work in this business. They may not spend two hours putting on their makeup in the morning, but they are making a real difference in the world.

    So, what have we learned? You need to get out there and get those hands dirty. Ask questions to anyone with a pair of ears. When it comes to the youth who crave a taste, give it to them. There are still high schools that provide workshop courses. Of course, in college, you can enroll in construction-related courses as well.
    Here’s a fact. Robert Arias founded the company out of his garage in 1996. Today the company is 22 years old and has grown to about 100 employees. They are in five cities, Austin being the fifth. Mr. Arias has established a culture of investing in and entrusting employees to take care of clients. The clients, in turn, take care of us. It’s a relationship-building cycle that gets stronger and stronger. –lv


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Lexie Velasquez lexie@constructionnews.net