Talking Asphalt: Moving on – October 2014

Posted 10/01/2014

TalkingAsphaltDW_webIf you are looking for asphalt-related information, you might want to skip this blog entry. But there may be a couple of lessons here anyway.

In last month’s entry, I mentioned that some of the leaders in the asphalt industry are nearing retirement. Well, me too. This will be my last scheduled column. I have previously closed my part-time consulting business and I’m completing my work as a contributing editor for “Asphalt” magazine.

It’s time for me to move on. There are things that I want to do – while I still can. I want to have more time to serve in my church, more time for family and friends and maybe a little more time for fishing and traveling.

It’s hard to leave this business. I’ve previously retired from two rewarding jobs in the asphalt field and have been a part-timer now for five years or so. It’s true – asphalt won’t wash off (at least, not easily). I’m not sure any engineer plans to specialize in asphalt – unless, maybe it was the family business. But I have found asphalt work to be very fulfilling. It has held my interest for 40 years because there have always been new challenges. Jay Hensley, former Asphalt Institute (AI) Chief Engineer, calls asphalt “the most creative material.” And I have found that to be accurate.

Last month, I mentioned two of my heroes and mentors, Ellis Williams and Jim Scherocman. Coincidentally, or more likely not, they both had AI backgrounds. Before those two men, there were others who shaped my career. Jackie Carpenter and Joe Spillman come to mind. Unless you worked with these guys, you’ve probably never heard of them. They weren’t well known or highly visible. But they both took the time, when I was getting started in this business, to answer hundreds of my questions and to show me that doing things the right way matters greatly.

Later in my career, there were some young engineers who brought energy and ability and a willingness to get involved to my work team. You might recognize two names, Mike Anderson and Phil Blankenship, both now with AI. There have been dozens more people who have made my work better and more interesting. To all of you, I say, “Thank you very much.”

Now, as to the potential lessons, I close this entry with these thoughts:

  • Take the time to work with young people. Pass on your knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. Invest some time and effort towards improving our industry.
  • Always give your best effort and do the job right. New technology is important, but the challenges of our industry will be dependent on carefully applying the good practices that we have gradually learned.

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