Jacks Are Better

March 18, 2014

“Jack of all trades, master of none” is not quite as bad as it sounds. In fact, Jack’s gotten a bad rap over the years.

Jack might even need to hire a PR professional to boost his image. Lucky for him, I’m going to tackle his plight pro bono, with help from Under 40 in Construction Equipment Award winner Glenn Vollmer of Vollmer Tar and Chip Asphalt Paving in St. Mary’s, Penn.

Vollmer’s approach to training his people is classic cross training, and while he may be creating more “Jacks,” he’s also safeguarding and improving the quality of his work.

He’s the first to tell you that he doesn’t have a formal training process. “I usually start everyone out as a laborer, and when they do the laboring, that’s the essential part of any crew,” the 30-year-old Vollmer says.

After that valued but inauspicious start, Vollmer rotates new personnel into every job on the crew. A laborer might run a skid steer, a plate tamper, the backhoe, the sprayer, the paver, or more, before he’s done.

“If you have every person knowing how to do the job of the guy standing next to him, then everybody can watch for mistakes,” Vollmer says. “I’m not saying the guy running the roller is the best paver operator in the world, or the guy running the paver is the best roller operator in the world, but they’ve each done those jobs, so if there is a clear mistake being made, somebody can say ‘Hey, that’s not the way we did it before—that’s not how that should look.’”

Vollmer said that most of his employees become specialized in their jobs, but the fact that each person has done other jobs at least a few times leads to work getting done right the first time.

“If there is a problem, someone sees it, and it doesn’t get out of hand before you can correct it,” he says. “This is especially important with paving, because your material gets hard and you can’t go back the next day and fix it. You catch it before it becomes a huge problem, and you correct it.”

Vollmer’s simple approach to training is another example of how the Under 40 in Construction Equipment class is leading; preparing for the future. Oh, and consider Jack’s image rehabilitated!

You can read more about Glenn Vollmer in the April issue of CE.

The nomination period for the 2014 Under 40 in Construction Equipment Awards is open. There is no fee to submit, and you may submit multiple candidates from the same organization. Candidates must be under the age of 40 as of Dec. 31, 2014. The deadline is August 15, 2014. Enter here.

ALSO, nominations for the 2015 AEMP and Construction Equipment magazine Fleet Masters Awards are now open. Three awards will be given based on estimated fleet replacement value. Applicants do not have to be members of AEMP, nor will they be required to join. The deadline is December 15, 2014. Enter here.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.