Kim Spain holds the position of assistant superintendent at Haskell, where she has been a member of the team since 1990. She is currently assigned to the Maryland Proton Treatment Center project in Baltimore.
We asked Kim to share her thoughts on certain issues within the construction industry. You can read the discussion below:
What is it you like most about your position as Assistant Superintendent?
I like being able to work with the various crafts people in the field. It is a real feeling of accomplishment to be a part of organizing and assisting in the scheduling of the trades to perform the work, to implement the plan and have a positive impact on the project completion.
Research shows that the number of skilled crafts people such as carpenters, masons and electricians is dwindling. In your opinion what can be done to turn that trend around?
That is definitely a challenging question. The trades have historically been passed from generation to generation through a family lineage. As technology advances and so many opportunities are available for people to develop careers in less physically strenuous fields, there are not as many who really WANT to do a trade, thus leaving less people to pass the trades on.
It is hard work, sometimes (many times actually), in undesirable climates – rain, snow, sleet, heat, dirt and grime. Unless opportunities are made available to broaden the development and experience based of the specific trades to people who are interested in a trade, (i.e. developing and expanding the skills for carpentry from the concrete formwork/ foundations through the finish carpentries) the impact on the future and quality of all the trades will be devastating.
I believe people need to see an end product of their hard labors, something they can look back on with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Without that, why do it?
As an Assistant Superintendent, your job duties require working closely with subcontractors. How do you ensure that subcontractors stay true to Haskell’s commitment to safety and quality?
I firmly believe in the values and corporate vision of Haskell. I have always felt a sense of loyalty to this company because people do matter here, I’m a blue blood. Sure some projects are challenged with tight budgets and/or timelines, but Haskell has always placed safety as THE most important task. Where there’s a safe workplace, people are able to concentrate on their jobs, and that leads to positive attitudes which lead to higher quality. It works hand in hand. Subcontractors know whether you care or not. When our subcontractors see that we actually walk the talk they are generally eager to jump on board and get the job done.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your position? How have the challenges changed over the course of the many years you’ve worked in the building construction industry?
The most challenging aspect for me is a subcontractor that does not perform their contractual obligations in a safe manner. Through the years this has gotten better, OSHA regulations have tightened down. However, from time to time we will run up on an “old schooler” or a real small subcontractor that just refuses to perform by the rules and we have to deal with them. Thankfully they are few and far between.
How many projects have you worked on at Haskell? Of all of those, which is your favorite and why?
In my 23 years with Haskell, I have been a part of 19 project teams, from Florida to New Jersey on the east coast and California and Jamaica as well. While I really don’t have a favorite project per say, I have a favorite type of project and that is the medical work. I just love the complexity of the buildings and systems from start to finish.