Page 8 - Arkansas 811 Magazine 2020 Issue 4
P. 8

Teamwork - Prioritizing Relationships and Teamwork to Get the Job Done safely.
By Michael Downes D811 Magazines
amage prevention isn’t a job for just one person. It takes dedication and cooperation from many stakeholders,
often with conflicting short-term goals.
But Teddy Hall, damage prevention supervisor for Paragould Light,
Water and Cable, has learned in his more than 20 years in the world of underground utility location that forming relationships across disciplines makes his job so much easier — and the community safer.
“When I started, I didn’t realize how important it was to build relationships with contractors and utilities,” Teddy said. “I was out there locating lines and found out the more you communicate and cooperate with the utilities and the contractors, the easier things became.”
Teddy has been with Paragould, a municipal electricity, water, cable
and broadband provider, for about
5 years, but his damage prevention chops go back to his time as a locator with ARKUPS. He spent his time there building relationships with local companies and the utilities in the area.
“I had a good relationship with them because I believe in the one call system, and working together with utilities, contractors and excavators,” he said.
While each stakeholder has their own short-term goal — laying a cable, repairing a line, building a house — the common goal across all fields is safety. And that’s a long-term goal that needs attention every day.
“When I came to work, we had a slogan: ‘One Team One Goal’. It is our company logo. While I thought it was corny at first, I now use it as a way to work with contractors. When you get a contractor, who calls in a big job, our goal is not to get anything damaged. Their goal is to get the job done, so it’s one team, one goal,” he said.
While damage prevention managers are sometimes seen as an excavator’s
adversary, Teddy likes to build a relationship early on and let them know they’re on the same team.
The first thing he does when he sees that a big project is about to start, is to set up a meeting with the contractors, review the prints and let them know he’s there to help in any way he can.
“For me, it works out best when you can look them in the eye and let them know you’re there to help,” Teddy said.
While he doesn’t do this for each locate request, when there’s a new contractor in town that he doesn’t already know, he sets up a locate for a time when he knows the contractor will be there so they can meet and start building that rapport.
“I want him to know I’m not his enemy, or here to send a bill if he damages something. I’m here to say, ‘look, we
need to do what we can so as to not damage anything and still get your work done on time,’” he said.
Another aspect of teamwork that Teddy promotes is working together within the company. They’ve built a system where they correspond with their crews to keep everybody on the same page.
“We meet every morning as a team before the crews go out,” he said.
That gives Teddy the opportunity
to prioritize locate requests in the way that’s most respectful of the contractors’ time, while still meeting the two working days locate deadline.
“On Friday, I had a contractor who had work due up today. I called the contractor and he said, ‘no I have all the work I can do today.’ So, we were
able to work on other locates today, and that freed me up to spend the day with him tomorrow,” Teddy said. “It’s time management on my part, but also building relationships so I’m able to manage my time and maximize the contractor’s time.”
In order to make sure all the deadlines are met, Teddy locates most of the day, he just spends two or three hours a day checking on his primary contractors. Not only does he believe in leading
by example, but he says it is time well spent and you never know what you’ll find out.
“I’ve made lifelong friends by just by doing my job, and doing it right,” he said.
Teddy Hall and Gregg Clark with NEA Construction
And he puts his time where his mouth is, personally assisting on difficult locates.
“If they’re looking for something that I’m personally responsible for — if we have a water line here — if they can’t find it, I’ll physically help them find
it. I understand that approach may be unrealistic for a contract locator, but
if I’m paying someone to locate my electricity, I expect that. And it builds a good relationship,” he said.
He’s found through the years that if an excavator can’t find a line, they’ll call him directly to see what’s wrong, rather than proceeding with the dig and taking the chance of damaging
an underground utility line or hurting
6 • Arkansas 811 Magazine 2020, Issue 4

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