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Gerardo DeLeon from Phoenix, AZ is January’s Elite Winner

Gerardo De Leon has been selected as January’s Elite winner. Gerardo works out of the Phoenix, AZ profit center and has for the last 5 years. Congratulations Gerardo! While working construction, Gerardo De Leon would often see underground utility locators. He now laughs when talking about how he viewed the job 6 years ago. “I thought it looked like an easy job. I was like, that’s all you do, paint the street?” Of course, once he was hired by ELM Utility Services, Gerardo learned very quickly that locating techs do much more than paint the street. When it came to learning all the skills required for his new role he says, “I started off pretty slow. I wasn’t trying to get a lot of production; I was trying to get quality work. I wanted to get everything right, so I took my time.” Gerardo believes it took him about a year to build up his confidence and that with greater experience he naturally became quicker at completing tickets. One thing he credits with advancing his skill was the company’s willingness to send a veteran tech to help when he asked for assistance. Now that he is a veteran tech himself mostly performing trouble locates, he has many opportunities to work with newer techs and is always happy to pass along his knowledge. If he feels like the original tech can learn from the way he completed the ticket Gerardo will send screenshots and follow up with a phone call to discuss it. Once Gerardo has initiated a conversation about a ticket with a tech, he says techs tend to feel more comfortable to reach out to him in the future, creating a more collaborative work environment and hopefully less trouble tickets. Gerardo likes performing trouble locates because he enjoys the challenge of completing a really difficult task. “I like locating something that is hard to locate. There’s always a way to get it figured out.” One piece of advice that he gives about difficult tickets is “never leave a job that you can’t reverify.” He believes a ticket isn’t complete unless you can back it up and show someone else how you got your signal. One challenge Gerardo comes across frequently is locating intersections. Perhaps the most dangerous part of his job, he always takes extra safety precautions in intersections. First, he’ll wear extra fluorescent clothing, like a bright green, long sleeve shirt to contrast with his orange reflective vest. He will also wear a hard hat because he finds drivers are more likely to recognize him as a person working. However, the easiest thing he can do to reduce the danger of working in an intersection is to time the ticket to a less busy time of day. Gerardo is also very conscious of driving safely every day. Whether it is in his work vehicle or his personal vehicle he makes it a rule to not exceed the speed limit. He recognizes the importance of reaction time in avoiding vehicle accidents and knows driving faster isn’t worth the increased risk of being in a collision. Gerardo is currently saving up to buy a house for him and his 13-year-old son who is also named Gerardo, though he goes by Gerry. They like to go fishing together and his son has taught him self to play multiple instruments by watching YouTube videos. Gerardo often talks with his son about his job, so he understands the important role his father plays in the community’s safety.