Foreman Duane Spurr has been with East & Westbrook Construction for almost a decade. Additionally, he has 15+ years of concrete construction experience and several more years of general construction and labor experience. He is an accomplished veteran in the construction industry, a leader and a guy who sets the right example on any job site he visits. But according to Duane, he still has a lot more learning to do, and as a leader on job sites, he’s still mastering his coaching and managerial duties. We recently sat down with Duane to chat about his growth over the years.
How did you land in the construction industry?
I’ve always been into construction. I grew up in Henry County and was around farms ever since I was a kid. Where I lived, there were tobacco farms and cattle farms and I worked them, doing whatever needed to be done. It naturally led to construction, so right after high school, I jumped right into concrete work. I didn’t have any formal training or anything. I just learned everything as I went along.
Early on, what kinds of construction jobs did you have?
I’ve actually been doing concrete work for most of my career. I held a few union positions and concrete was usually my focus.
What led you to East & Westbrook?
I heard about East & Westbrook from a few friends that worked for them at the time. I heard they were hiring, so I applied and got on with them. I already knew a lot about concrete before I started, so it was a good fit.
What is a typical day like?
Every morning starts with a safety meeting. The company is all about safety, and it starts with Jonathan Westbrook – he is big on safety. Then, I basically just get the guys squared away for the day, make sure they know what they are doing and guide them if they need it.
What was it like going from previous construction jobs to a company like East & Westbrook?
A lot times [at other construction companies), you just need to know how to swing a hammer and there’s a place for you. I learned a lot at other jobs, but I always wanted to learn more. The level of skill and the learning opportunities are different [with E&W]. They gave me more opportunities to learn and grow.
Another thing that drew me to East & Westbrook was that they don’t do layoffs. They are a good, stable company to work for. Upper management is great. They are all really well-trained, they can teach us different things and they’ll lend a hand when it’s needed. If any trouble arises, they are there to help.
What have you learned during your time with E&W?
I have learned lots of stuff. Mainly learned the different attributes of concrete, like proper ways to set walls and finishing concrete. We recently had a job in Columbus, Indiana and I had to learn the ins and outs of tilt-up concrete walls. I had never done a tilt-up building before. Before the job, I went through a crash training course to learn about how the system works. It [tilt-up concrete] is like a giant puzzle that you have put together. It was pretty cool to learn.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is probably managing people. There’s a lot of the day-to-day management duties that might give me headaches, but I’m learning how to handle certain things, learning different processes and learning the qualities to be good leader. There is also tons of stuff that I haven’t learned. I’m still learning, everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.
What is your leadership style like?
I prefer to be a leader, not a boss. I’ve always been a team player, so I’ll work right there with my guys. If they see that the Foreman can give it his all, they tend to follow my lead and give the same type of effort. That is really all I ask for in my guys – hard work. That is the way upper management is too. They’ll jump right in and help us with whatever is needed or give us training and guidance when it is needed. It try to be like that for my guys too.
What is the most interesting project you have worked on?
The highlight of my career was building the training facility for the New Orleans Saints. We stayed out in West Virginia (at the Greenbriar) for about two and a half months. The whole complex only took about three months to complete, so there were a lot of different crews out there working every day.
What do you do outside of work?
Hunting and fishing. We like to get outside, go boating in the summertime. I have 2 daughters, ages 4 and 7. Sometimes, I get out and hang with the guys after work.
Your daughters like to hunt and fish too?
Oh, they love that sort of stuff. They really enjoy it.
A growing team
East & Westbrook is always looking for passionate and hardworking individuals to join our growing family. Contact us to learn more about how to turn your passion into a lifelong career with the E&W family, or apply online.