News & Events

Andy Cottam from Utah is the November 2021 Elite Winner

The Elite winner for November is Andy Cottam from the Clearfield, UT profit center. Congratulations Andy on this well-deserved recognition. Ever since he was a little boy, Andy Cottam has been interested in underground pipes. He remembers being fascinated by the idea of burying a pipe to his friend’s house with a toy train track inside so they could pass toys back and forth. While Andy is still waiting on that literal pipe dream, he has spent most of his career working around buried utilities in one form or another. Andy’s utility career didn’t start with locating though. Initially he worked as a potholer for Sorenson Construction, where he noticed that the non-ELM contract locators that came to his job sites weren’t very accurate with their marks. That is when he bought his first used locator to check their work and save himself time in the long run. “When it comes to work, I am not afraid to spend a little bit of my own money to better myself and my position. It’s easy to get a leg up if you are willing to drop a little bit of coin on yourself,” he says about the decision. That investment in himself and his career eventually led him to ELM. After the housing market crash in 2008 he briefly left the utility industry altogether due to the nature of the market and worked security. While he missed working with buried utilities, working security helped him discover that he did enjoy being more active during his workday and that walking regularly was better for his health than sitting on an excavator. So, when the housing market returned, he was able to pick what he wanted to do, and his first call was to ELM. “ELM, compared to the other contract locators around here, took care of, and actually cared about their utilities.” Andy’s commitment to improving himself extends beyond purchasing equipment to improve himself as a potholer. In his 8 years as an ELM damage prevention specialist, he has learned that it isn’t in his nature to never make an error on the job, but he has developed routines and habits to catch those errors and correct them. He says, “When I get back to the car, I pull the maps up again and verify the scope of the ticket to make sure I did get everything I needed to get.” He added that on days with lots of single lot tickets it is easy to move through the day quickly but then miss a small detail on one ticket. “Having those little moments where you stop and verify is really important.” As important as it is to catch mistakes before they become damages, it is equally as important to work safely and limit injuries on the job. Andy recognizes that slip, trips, and falls are one of the biggest hazards on jobsites, and that being aware of your surroundings can help prevent many falls. However, not all falls can be prevented, but when they do happen, knowing how to fall can help avoid an injury. Andy learned how to fall properly at a young age and thinks that the training on slips, trips, and falls is incredibly helpful. “Just so that when it does happen, because it will happen, it really helps out.” Andy has been married for 11 years and has 3 children, one of which is already showing interest in his father’s work. Andy called in a locate request for his home and went out to double check the gas marks the locator made. His 6-year-old son went with him and informed him that the locator’s marks were almost a foot off. “I have never had a prouder moment in my life.”