Mike Miner from the South Western Oregon profit center is the ELM Elite winner for June 2022. Mike has worked for ELM for 8 years but has 15 total years of locating experience. Congratulations Mike.
Like any locate technician, there are days where Mike feels stressed about his number of tickets. However, he knows that excelling at this job means not taking short cuts. Recently, he showed up to a ticket to find the digging had already started. The prints showed that this house shouldn’t have a gas line in the dig area, but nevertheless he insisted the digging stop until he could verify if they were clear. It didn’t take him long to find that not only did the house have a gas line that wasn’t on the prints but also that the lines of two different neighbors came into their yard as well. Mike could have trusted the prints, but his experience told him prints have been wrong before and by spending 15 minutes to verify instead of taking the short cut he prevented a very likely damage.
When it comes to knowing how much time to spend on certain tickets, Mike tells himself to trust his instincts. No matter how much experience you have or how efficient you have become at locating, there will be times on a job when something doesn’t feel right. Mike knows those are the tickets worth spending a few extra minutes on to double check. He sums it up as, “Trust yourself and trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, its usually not right. It doesn’t take but a minute or two longer to double check something and make sure you have that peace of mind.” Mike says that at the very beginning of his career it was common for him to go home and second guess his work from earlier in the day but that with experience he learned spending a few more minutes on a ticket saved him time and stress later.
Mike says that a crucial part of advancing his career has been learning from any mistakes he has made. Now that he often has new hires ride along with him as part of the training process, he tries to pass this lesson on to them as well. “I allow them to make mistakes and then show them where they went wrong. I’ve always felt that when I go back and look at something and see where it went wrong, I learn from that experience and grow. Next time it happens I remember what to do.” Being able to pass along learning moments from his own career to trainees has made Mike an asset to the rest of his crew.
Mike’s locating career started in Louisiana 15 years ago and had a brief pause while he searched for greener pastures in California. He couldn’t get locating work in California, but he eventually ended up in Oregon as he said it called to him. He greatly enjoys all the interesting people he gets to meet in Oregon and the scenic places he has located. A few years ago, when he was locating both phone and power, he had to frequently go to cell towers on mountain tops, so he has seen every town in the area from the most scenic vantage points. Throughout his career he has located cable, phone, water, power, and gas. Right now, he only locates gas, but his broad experience has led to him helping with cable lines in Nevada before.
Mike is married and through his wife he has 9 step-grandchildren, 3 of which they have legally adopted as their children. They call Grants Pass, Oregon home and like that depending on which direction they choose to go they are only a couple hours of driving away from a beach, a ski hill, or sand dunes. Together the family enjoys the great Oregon outdoors and often goes camping, kayaking, fishing, or swimming.