Brian Shaw never intended to follow in his father’s footsteps and work in the construction industry. Only after he served in the U.S. Army, worked in sales and tried his hand as an office administrator did he reluctantly become part of his father’s concrete and masonry crew.
“I didn’t think I would go back into construction, but my dad said it was in my blood,” Shaw said. “I’ve been in construction for the last 39 years.”
For the past 21 years, he has been with Haskell. Today, he is a Project Superintendent overseeing the challenging P-464 Aircraft Maintenance Hanger project at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in coastal South Carolina.
Working on military installations poses unique hurdles, and the COVID-19 pandemic added a layer of complications. Obtaining clearance for individual workers simply to get on base slowed the process as new workers were brought in.
Shaw said a personality test showed that he has a “take the hill” mentality. No matter the assignment, he works to find a way to get it done.
When taking on a challenging project Shaw says, “One of the biggest things that needs to happen is to create some structure about our business and make sure that our contract partners understand what the road map is and how to get to the finish line. I am consistent in my structure and leadership.”
Senior project manager Randy Hoffland also noted Shaw’s work ethic. He’s usually in the trailer before 6 a.m. and may not leave until 13 hours later. When workers are on the site, he is too. Shaw’s style is to talk to the laborers. They respect that he started his career on the working end of a shovel, and he respects them for taking pride in the job. He goes out of his way to comment when a sub is adhering to Haskell safety protocols.
“When I see good things going on concerning safety, I compliment them on that,” he said.” I came from out there. When I talk to the workers, they figure that out pretty quick.”
Shaw tries to get home to his wife Sandy in the Orlando area about every three weeks but has been known to remain on the site for long stretches when other team members have needed to get home for a family emergency event.
“God bless my wife. She gets it,” he said. She knows there is a need and reason why I am staying here instead of coming home.”
He and Sandy have been married for 32 years and have three grown children. The couple grew up five miles from each other but attended different schools in Orlando. Today, their home is almost equidistant from the two houses where they grew up.
Over the years, they lived the Haskell life much like those in the military. When the children were young, Sandy would move them to whatever city he was working in during their summer vacation from school.
They are not alone. Brian Shaw noted that the spouses of many Haskell Permanent Craft Employees (PCEs) understand that moving and periodic absences are part of the job. Many of those marriages have lasted 20 to 25 years.
Having worked for Haskell for two decades, he has seen the company grow but appreciates that Haskell employees aren’t “just numbers” as far as the leadership is concerned.
“That is typically the downfall when a company grows. As Haskell has grown it has still fostered a family and people atmosphere. That is what has kept me here all of these years.”
While nearing retirement age, he doesn’t see himself hanging it up anytime soon. After all, he’s been told construction is in his blood.
If he needs any more proof, he just needs to look out on the job site, where his 20-year-old son, Jared, is a laborer on this project.