Erik Lightner Sr. and Jr. are pictured in 2004 on a project in London.

August 25, 2021

Haskell’s Summer Intern Program Features a Pair of Father-Son Duos

"I try not to intervene too much in Paul’s life at work so that he can learn from his own mistakes and accomplishments," John Breite says.

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This summer, intern Paul Breite has worked with his father, John Breite, at Haskell’s St. Louis, Missouri, office learning the ins and outs of mechanical engineering. Likewise, intern Erik Lightner Jr. worked with his father, Erik Lightner Sr., at Haskell’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.

John started with Benham, a Haskell Company, 19 years ago and is now a Senior Associate Process Engineer with Haskell’s Industrial Design Division. Paul is a junior at Missouri Science &Technology and, notably, is a third-generation mechanical engineer from that university. As John likes to say, engineering is in their blood. Growing up, both Paul and John were Lego fanatics, and Paul could fix the brakes on his dad’s car by the time he was 10 years old.

John and Paul like to undertake mechanical projects at home, ranging from building a desk to restoring a tractor. Bird hunting is another father-son activity the Breites enjoy. Currently, both Breites are working on a Nestle project in Dunkirk, New York.

Paul Breite and his dad, John, confer on a project design. Paul is working directly with John on a project for Nestle.

The key to a successful father-son work dynamic is not to be too overbearing, John said.

“I want Paul to learn from his own experiences,” he said. “Practical application of the theories you learn in school is critical for professional growth and development. Therefore, I try not to intervene too much in Paul’s life at work so that he can learn from his peers and his own mistakes and accomplishments.”

For Paul, it’s been great to work with a figure he’s very close with and who’s also an expert in the mechanical engineering field.

“John is a wealth of knowledge,” Paul said. “He’s an excellent resource both professionally and at home. I can ask John basic engineering questions at home if I’m struggling to learn a concept or solve a problem at work.”

Erik Sr. has been with Haskell since December 2015, starting as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. In January 2017, Erik Sr. became VP & Division Leader of Consumer Products, the role he still holds today.

Erik Sr. earned a chemical engineering degree from Penn State University, where he was a member of the ice hockey team. After graduation, he spent 21 years with Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) before joining Haskell.

The Lightners moved numerous times because of Erik Sr.’s career, with the family spending stints in Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, London, Pennsylvania, and Singapore. As a result, Erik Jr. went to school across the world. He began school in England, completed grades 8-10 in Singapore and finished his high school career at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville.

Erik Jr. attended Catholic University as a mechanical engineering student and a member of the football and hockey teams. He then transferred to the University of Central Florida, where he continues to study mechanical engineering.

As is the case with the Breites, there seems to be an Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry gene in the Lightner family. Erik Jr.’s paternal grandfather was a union sheet metal worker, and his maternal grandfather was a union plumber.

This summer, Erik Jr. was a Mechanical Design Intern for Daniel Zvara, Lead Mechanical Engineer for Haskell’s Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Group, and worked on numerous CPG projects, including Project Crazy Mouse in Tipton, Pennsylvania.

On the weekends, the Lightners enjoy playing hockey together, shooting, and weightlifting. Sometimes, their recreational activities can take on a bit of an edge.

“Since we both played sports at the collegiate level, we can be pretty competitive with each other,” Erik Sr. said.

There is a degree of separation between the Lightners in the office, since Erik Sr. works in project management and Erik Jr. in design.

“We don’t really work professionally together since we’re in different departments working on different projects,” Erik Sr. said. “However, we usually catch up periodically during the workday and go over project developments and whatever else is new.”

Like Paul, Erik Jr. appreciated having the unique opportunity to have his dad as a mentor both at home and in the workplace.

“Although I don’t report directly to my dad at work, I appreciate having him as a resource to go to whenever I have question or concern relating to mechanical engineering,” Erik Jr. said. “I’ve really enjoyed Haskell’s Summer Internship Program and working alongside my dad has been an invaluable experience.”

About the writer: Bond Magevney is a Haskell 2021 summer intern working in the Corporate Marketing department. He is a junior at the University of Richmond majoring in Leadership Studies and Political Science.

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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