Jay Nielsen has been selected as the October Elite program winner. Congratulations Jay! Working out of ELM’s office in Phoenix, AZ, Jay (John) Nielsen has been locating underground utilities since 2000. He likes the problem solving required by the job, “I always liked puzzles so some of these big projects, finding stuff the way they have been buried under ground, at times is challenging. The more cluttered it is the more it’s like a puzzle.” Jay locates gas and electric lines and right now is primarily assigned to larger projects. He enjoys “figuring out” long projects, especially those over a mile long. As he has worked on larger projects, Jay has come to know most of the contractors in his area and has developed beneficial relationships with them. He believes the key to developing these relationships is as simple as doing what you say you are going to do. “They can be your best friends in this industry. If you get them to like you and trust you and work with you, they can make your life so much easier, especially on big projects. I always take care of my contractors, do what I told them I was going to do and be there when they need me.” When it comes to choosing a frequency, Jay uses a wide variety. He advises, “It depends on how congested the area is.” Jay draws on his 20 years of experience to know when to use each frequency, including using higher frequencies for complicated locates. Jay is well aware of the increased bleed over potential to other conductors in high density areas but has learned how to identify when that is happening. Along with the information that his equipment provides him, he added, “You get a general feeling about the way the frequency is moving, the way it sounds. You can tell a lot of different things by listening closely, if something isn’t right or if it is bleeding off on something.” Jay related a time early in his career when he had an at fault damage and how he was able to learn from it. Before technicians had laptops with the ability to zoom into a map, he missed a small line that came off the main, “You could barely see it, and you couldn’t zoom in on it. Now you can zoom in to it. It was actually 40 feet long and went out across a road.” The cap on the line was ripped off by a blade for a gas damage. He added, “That got me to start thinking about double checking prints, fittings, and little things on the print because lots of times little things can come back and bite you if you don’t really check them out and see what they are.” Jay has an excellent safety record, both driving and on jobsites. He believes being safe and locating accurately have at least one key thing in common. “I think the biggest thing is just not rushing. Same with locating, don’t rush. You have to know your limits, what you can and can’t do,” he says. Working in Arizona he encounters many different types of hazards, from scorpions to monsoons. Whether you are parking, driving, or walking he stresses the importance of being aware of your surroundings, saying, “You have to look around while you are doing stuff. As long as you are taking your time and are aware or what is going on, you should be pretty good.” When it comes to large rainstorms in Arizona he added, “If the weather is too bad, it’s too bad. You can’t do much with it. When you force stuff is when bad things happen.” In his 20 years with ELM, locating has brought Jay all over the state of Arizona. He spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors, primarily hunting and camping. He bagged his first bull elk last year, a 6×6. Right now, Jay is happy to mainly work in the area around Surprise, AZ where he lives with Crystal, his wife of 19 years, and their 18 year old daughter and 9 year old son.