During one of Bobby Bradley’s first days as a carpenter apprentice at Haskell, his superintendent sat him down and asked what he wanted from the company. An 18-year-old kid whose carpentry talent earned him a job straight out of high school, he revealed to his boss his true ambitions.
“I told him, honestly, I wanted his job,” Bradley said.
Eight years later, Bradley had it.
A project superintendent in the Water/Wastewater Division who has spent his entire 22-year career with Haskell, Bradley is a true homegrown talent and success story of the company’s Permanent Craft Employee (PCE) program.
“Some of our best superintendents have come up through the ranks of our PCE program, and Bobby has certainly done that,” said David Bates, vice president of Haskell’s Construction Core. “He has quite an extensive background in water projects, which is a specialty type of market for us. He’s certainly one of our strong self-perform superintendents.”
An Orange Park, Florida, native, Bradley shined in the woodshop at Orange Park High School. He won top honors in the Vocational Industrial Club of America’s regional and state competitions as a senior and took 14th place in the national competition. His talent caught the eye of Haskell, and Bradley entered the company’s apprentice program in 1998 after graduating high school.
Bradley still remembers the day he told his supervisor, Gary Bush, he wanted his job. He recalls Bush sitting in silence to “digest” what he just heard from his new employee. From that day on, Bush took Bradley under his wing, challenging him every day to become a better carpenter and teaching him priceless lessons in leadership.
“He taught me how to laugh instead of getting upset,” Bradley said. “You can find humor in every situation, as long as someone didn’t get hurt. He’s had a huge influence on my life.”
Following completion of the apprentice program in 2002, Bradley stayed with Haskell and became a lead carpenter. He quickly rose to foreman while working on challenging water projects in South Florida, becoming an assistant superintendent the next year. By 2006, he earned the rank of project superintendent at the age of 26.
Bradley has overseen a number of wastewater projects as a superintendent, as well as a $157 million design-build project at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where Haskell built a hangar facility for MV-22 Osprey helicopters for the United States Marine Corps.
Bradley said the most rewarding project of his career was overseeing the Bently Heritage Distillery in Minden, Nevada. Haskell served as the design-build contractor for the conversion of two historic buildings into state-of-the-art, fully automated distilleries.
Bradley moved to the quaint community with his wife and two children and became friends with nearly everyone in town during his 14-month stay,
“I’ve heard him referred to as ‘The Mayor’ because he not only gets to know everyone on the project site, but a lot of times he gets to know many of the people in the community as well,” Bates said. “He not only represents and feels strongly about the people on his project, but all those involved in the community and putting Haskell’s good name forward as we impact different areas of the country where we work.”
Bradley’s supervisors said he possesses a wealth of technical expertise that goes far beyond carpentry. He’s developed a strong understanding of piping and casting structures, concrete and process mechanics, all crucial skills to succeed in the world of wastewater.
Bradley learned everything he knows by working in the field, and his first-hand knowledge commands respect on the job site.
“My philosophy on talented superintendents is this: They can’t direct someone to form a wall if they’ve never formed a wall themselves,” said Paul McElroy, director of construction for Haskell’s Water/Wastewater Division. “Our industry is plagued with a stigma of having a lot of project managers and assistant project managers who’ve never been in the field. It says a lot when he walks up to someone and shows them how to do a job, and they didn’t expect him to actually know how to do it.”
Bradley’s people skills are perhaps his greatest asset as a leader. Although he’s highly driven and ambitious, his colleagues said he’s the kindest guy you’ll ever meet overseeing a construction project.
“He’s a very positive and friendly guy. He strives to be successful, and he’s also the kind of person who wants to see other people be successful,” said Tim Mosley, manager of field personnel. “I’ve never seen him get angry. He truly believes you bring people in by forming a team and forming a relationship.”
Bradley said communicating with everyone involved in a job is the key to successfully executing projects, and he said it’s easier to do so when everyone is treated with respect.
“I always try to have a smile on my face. Whether it’s a laborer or pipefitter, whoever the person it is you’re talking to, it helps them relax,” Bradley said.
These days, Bradley is living in College Station, Pennsylvania, where he’s overseeing a complex wastewater project at Penn State University.
Haskell is managing a team charged with building a new wastewater facility inside the existing wastewater facility. The existing system serves the entire campus and must remain fully functional throughout the project. In ordinary times, the job would be a complicated endeavor demanding precise work sequencing, no tolerance for errors and readiness to execute contingency plans at a moment’s notice. To make things more difficult, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional scheduling and safety challenges.
A strong communicator and field-proven leader who values safety above all else, Bradley was the perfect superintendent for the job, McElroy said.
“I talked to the director who oversees that job and has been following him, and all I’ve heard so far is praise for his dedication to the job and his hard work,” McElroy said.
Looking back at his 22 years with Haskell, Bradley said he’s grateful for the chance to get his foot in the door and the mentors who helped him build a successful career.
“I’ve had friends who have left and tell me, ‘Don’t leave,’” Bradley said. “One thing I’ve noticed about Haskell, they care about the individuals. You’re not just an employee here. It’s the people here that make it so great.”
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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