Phil Krause from the Spokane, WA office is September’s winner of the Elite program. Congratulations Phil! Phil’s has worked for ELM since 2011 but his locating career began in 1996. Though he is based out of the Spokane, WA office, Phil services the area north of Coeur d’Alene, ID including Hayden and Rathdrum. Phil likes to spend his time hunting, fishing, and riding dirt bikes. He also has two pet ducks name Becky and Jerry. In 25 years of protecting underground utilities, he has learned how beneficial it is to communicate with all parties involved. For the last 16 years, Phil has primarily located utilities belonging to Avista and in that time he has gotten to know many people in that company very well. “If I have a problem, I know just who to call,” says Phil. “Keeping Avista involved in trouble locate process is always beneficial.” Remaining positive with the people you deal with in the field is important. He added, “Having a negative attitude only leads to getting a negative attitude from someone else right back.” It isn’t just relationships with the utility company though, he also maintains relationships with many local contractors. Phil says his tendency to communicate throughout the process helps him whenever a ticket ends up taking longer than expected. “Communication with everyone involved seems to solve any problem that I come in contact with,” he says. “If you are working through resolving the problem and they know, they are more than happy to work with me.” Most of Phil’s tickets are gas and electric with just the occasional fiber. On most jobs, he locates gas before electric as he feels it locates better so he likes to get it done first. With electric you can’t always unbond it from other utilities, so there is a higher risk of bleed over. You can usually tell when gas doesn’t locate correctly but it isn’t as easy to tell with electric. Therefore, he likes to locate from a less congested area into a more congested area. No matter what kind of ticket it is, Phil starts each job by reviewing his maps and making a list of things he needs to consider. If it is a big enough job, he will check his maps throughout it, but he always checks his notes when he is done to make sure he didn’t miss anything. He adds, “That helps me a lot. It gets to be so many things I can’t remember them all. I’ll recheck them to make sure I got everything. I start with the map, and I end with the map.” Despite his stellar record of locating accurately, Phil did have an at-fault damage several years ago. However, he was able to turn the event into a learning opportunity. “I figured out after the fact that my lead wires were broken. Not completely, but intermittently.” He now tests his leads for continuity with a diagnostic equipment check every morning before starting any tickets. The addition to his daily routine has prevented the issue from causing a damage again. He added another piece of advice from his years of locating, “Don’t let the pressure of the job cause you to skip steps that you should be taking. Keeping people safe motivates me to take the extra steps to avoid any problem. I think a lot of times damages could be prevented by taking one more step.” Phil also has a tremendous safety record on the job. He considers himself a defensive driver and states, “When I’m driving, that’s all I’m doing. I’m not thinking about my next locate. I don’t mess with my stuff. All I’m trying to do is get to the next place and park safely.” He also recounted a recent near miss where his own alertness prevented a major accident caused by another driver’s impatience. “A guy towing a boat went across the double yellow lines and passed me…right where I was going to turn left. I had started signaling way, way before I was going to turn. He would have wiped me out if I hadn’t been paying attention.” He added, “I ended up going straight and getting over on the side of the highway and finding a place to turn back around.” Congratulations again to Phil on this recognition of his commitment to preventing underground damages. He has consistently used his skills and knowledge to improve the accuracy of his locates, the satisfaction of his stakeholders, and the safety of himself and others around him. This has made him an Elite Damage Prevention Specialist.