Following his start at the Haskell Steel Shop, Skip Brazell learned many trades and grew to be one of the company's most senior Project Superintendents.

February 14, 2022

Veteran Superintendent Skip Brazell Proudly Calls Haskell His Family

Easily identifiable by his cowboy hardhat, the 35-year Haskell team member often gets the call for projects with demanding deadlines.

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Superintendent William “Skip” Brazell has seen it all during his 35 years with Haskell, and he's earned a reputation as a demanding yet fair leader who completes high-quality work on tight deadlines. When Brazell is on a job, there’s never a question of who is in charge.

“Whenever we’re in the field and someone shows up with questions, we always tell them, ‘The guy in charge is wearing the cowboy hardhat,” says John Riffey, a Project Manager in Haskell’s Infrastructure & Transportation Group. “He’s just kind of a force out there when it comes to managing crews. Everyone knows who he is: He’s the guy with a cowboy hat.”

Brazell is one of Haskell’s most tenured and experienced superintendents, and he said the company truly feels like part of his family.

He’s worked for just two employers in his life: Haskell and Uncle Sam. His father worked for Haskell for 35 years. Brazell’s wife, Deana, is his field clerk. His brother, Charlie, is also a Haskell superintendent. Skip said the company has always taken care of him and his family.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve gone from that first paycheck to now without ever missing one. Nobody who has gone from job to job in this industry for that long can tell you that,” Brazell said. “Haskell gives you an opportunity to do anything. You can grow with the company, and if you apply yourself, you can go as high as you want.”

Brazell’s career with Haskell started in the steel shop when he was a teenager, where he worked as a welder before joining the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion. He returned to Haskell in 1980, working as a Permanent Craft Employee (PCE) on projects across the state and country and working his way up.

“Whatever Haskell was doing, I did it. I learned my trades in the field and then started to run work as a foreman. I did a lot of tilt-wall projects, a lot of surveying and layout,” Brazell said. “I’ve worked on every type of structure, from jails and hospitals to schools and apartment complexes.”

As one of the company’s senior superintendents, Brazell has become a go-to for projects with demanding schedules. Riffey said Brazell’s “wealth of knowledge” and aggressive approach to construction were invaluable on the San Jose Academy, where they worked together to complete construction of a multi-million-dollar design-build project that included a two-story classroom building with a gym and cafeteria.

“Like every job, there were issues, and the issues here were schedule demands and coming up with creative ways to construct the building to speed up the job while keeping the existing school on site open,” Riffey said. “Skip assembled a team of PCEs he knew could perform and rise to the occasion. Having Skip there, he had seniority and could hand-pick a team, which was highly beneficial. That job was lightning quick, and as fast as it went, we still ended up with a really great product.”

Brazell said his experience in the trades had helped him as a superintendent — “You have to know how to do everyone’s job,” he said — although managing people can be the most difficult trade of all. Brazell says he has found the right balance of holding his team accountable without them perceiving him as unreasonable.

“I think I do a good job managing people. I’m strict but fair,” he said. “I’m not that micromanaging, crazy person. I like to work with everyone and make sure everyone is focused on the right thing. You have to be able to listen. Everyone has a different way, and your way isn’t always perfect. That goes both ways.”

Leadership has been especially important since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as construction crews have had to adopt new protocols and prevent outbreaks. He said earning buy-in from team members and subcontractor partners was initially difficult, but he overcame that through team building and explaining that the rules weren’t designed to be punitive.

A crew is like a family, he said, and families protect and take care of each other. Coming from Brazell, that isn’t just a catchy pep talk. It’s something he has experienced for most of his life.

“I remember my early years as a kid tagging along with my dad when Haskell was a smaller company,” he said. “We’d go to big family functions and Preston Haskell was there, and anyone could approach him. It feels like you can talk to anyone here. I can go to anyone in that home office as high as I need to go and not only ask a question, but also give my opinion.”

Join the Haskell family and work for a company focused on giving each team member the BEST job of their life.

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 2,000 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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