Whether it’s an “easy” hydronic project or a complicated high pressure steam line welding job, Gary Babcock says the one thing he always tells his crew foremen is, “Expect challenges, and always be at the top of your game.”
This requires a fair amount of ESP. Or what Gary calls pre-planning. “We work in clean rooms, like hospital operating rooms, for example. They’ll shut down for you for the day. Besides more down time, mistakes can can hurt a lot of people: ourselves, someone else, or someone in the future.
“You’ve got to pre-plan and then discuss everything with the team and the company or contractor you’re working for. You have to figure out, if something does go wrong, what action will you take to jump right in and minimize the damage?”
Challenges are what Gary likes about his job. “If someone says, ‘You have a deadline on such and such a job, and I don’t know if you’re going to make it,’ I like the challenge of saying, ‘Oh, I know we’re going to make it, no matter what we have to do. We’re going to please the customer no matter what; we’re not going to let him down.’”
Piping Systems Inc. has many repeat customers. “We like them, and they like us, so we must be doing something right,” says Gary, who was recruited by his dad and uncle into the company 20 years ago and has worked with many of those customers over the years.
Longevity in customers and employees is the norm at Piping Systems. “The majority of our field techs have been with us 12-15 years, which is important because you have to be able to trust their work in the field. It’s never good to be called back to a job.”
The best project managers are able to work every job on the project punch list. Gary earned his Pipefitters license in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, adding a Sprinklerfitters license in Massachusetts.
But project management is different from doing the job. “Before I was in charge of my job, my crew. The job may have lasted 3-6 months, and that was my main concern,” he says.
“Now I have 10-15 projects going on at once and oversee 20 people. I get to see behind the scenes, where I didn’t really see that before: Whose job is getting done more efficiently, what more do we need to track to make sure this job comes in more profitably.”
It’s a career challenge he was ready for. “Pauline is great, and the company has taken great care of me and my family. We’re a great company to work for.”