Our ELM Elite winner for May is Brad Hawkinson from the Northern Colorado profit center. Congratulations to Brad for being selected.
Brad Hawkinson started locating for ELM in 2008. He locates both fiber communications and electric lines. He handles one fiber contract in his area almost entirely himself because it is notoriously difficult to locate and has complicated utility maps.
On any given day you might find Brad anywhere between central Denver and the Wyoming border. Brad may drive a lot of miles, but all damage prevention specialists spend a considerable part of their day driving and the biggest danger on the road is usually other drivers. Pulling over for even 30 seconds is usually enough time to let the aggressive driver get ahead of you. Brad says, “that whole problem is solved because it is no longer there. They already passed you.”
Brad prides himself on his ability to communicate and work with contractors. He always tries to keep a positive attitude when dealing with contractors as he finds that leads to more productive conversations. Even when talking to someone with a negative attitude, not matching their mood with your own negative attitude can steer a conversation towards a more positive outcome. Brad considers himself a laid-back person, but he still doesn’t appreciate when contractors mistreat locators and is willing to stand up for his profession. In his experience, if you remain calm and respectful you can change a person’s perspective on locators using just your communication skills.
Whether its dealing with drivers or contractors, there are a lot of factors in any locator’s day that can get overwhelming. When he is feeling stressed, Brad likes to remind himself “to go one ticket at a time.” He still strives to do his highest quality work, but he finds just focusing on his present task lets him regain his composure and course correct a day that isn’t going how he had hoped. Another tactic Brad uses to reduce on the job stress is to remember that he and everyone else on his crew are working towards the same goals. Every locator wants to get home to their family safely at the end of the day while also preventing damages.
Even though Brad has been locating for 14 years he knows the importance of learning new things. There are things about his own locating equipment that he didn’t learn until he had been using it for years and it took seeing another tech doing something a different way and him asking about it to learn. He says, “that’s usually how a technician learns. Hard work, getting up every day, and communicating with other techs in the field.” Brad also noted that asking questions after a mistake is perhaps the most important step to improving on the job.
When Brad isn’t on the clock you might find him at home cooking. He has been cooking with the same smoker for 25 years and swears it cooks better tasting food each time he uses it. He also enjoys collecting old stamps and coins as well as taking care of horses and dogs.