Q: What is your official job title, and what are your typical responsibilities at Milburn?
A: I just started working here in July 2020, and I’m a project manager. My responsibilities include project estimating and project management for demolition jobs. I have some familiarity with everything Milburn does, so I’ll be able to touch base with them for a wide variety of projects.
Q: What were you up to in your career before you joined Milburn?
A: I graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in construction management with a specialization in demolition. It’s actually the same degree James Milburn has, and it’s how we first met.
For the most part, I’ve been in the demo industry ever since I first got an internship in demolition back in 2011. I spent a year and a half away from the industry shortly after that — I moved down to Texas and worked for a big engineering construction firm. I was in their oil and gas division, and I did a lot of piping takeoff estimating work for them. Then, I got temporarily assigned to a project where we were building a light rail system in downtown Houston.
In 2013, I moved back to Chicago and shifted my career into demolition full-time. I worked for one of Milburn’s competitors for six or seven years, and then I briefly switched companies to work with a startup. When that didn’t really go the way I wanted it to, I joined up with Milburn. Altogether, I had about eight years of experience doing demolition specifically in the Chicago area before I signed on with Milburn.
Q: What was it about Milburn that drew you in? Why were you attracted to working here?
A: The biggest factor was the fact that I know James personally. He used to work for the same competitor I worked for, so we worked together for a brief time before he started his own company. I think he left because he just knew this work could be done better. Eventually, I got to that same point.
I was confident in James and knew he could put something together that was a little bit more impressive. Also, just seeing how much work he’s gained in these six years that Milburn has been around, and seeing how much this company has grown, it’s pretty remarkable. This is the team that I’ve always wanted to be part of.
Q: Construction as an industry is having a hard time attracting young talent. Do you have any ideas about how we could do a better job connecting with young people?
A: I always thought I would be an engineer. I’ve always been good with math, and I enjoyed engineering classes, even back in high school. I learned about the construction side of things, where you still have some engineering involved, but the actual job is probably more on the management side.
For some reason, that really attracted me. Maybe there are kids out there who don’t realize that this role exists that taps into that engineering knowledge base but also has a “people person’s” side to it as well. I think too many young people hear the word “construction” and they think it’s just about wearing a hard hat and spending all day every day outside.
There’s a whole other aspect to this industry that we could do a better job of communicating to them. They might not realize how much room for growth there is in the construction industry.
Q: Is there anyone that you look up to in life, or that you consider to be a mentor?
A: James is that person for me, no question. We first met at a job fair on Purdue’s campus. He was representing the National Demolition Association, and I was a student in my junior year, studying the demolition side of things.
I’ve been interested in demo ever since I learned that the American infrastructure is pretty much at its breaking point and needs to be reconfigured. When I was in school, I figured 80% of the bridges in the country would need to be rebuilt during my lifetime, so I figured it would be smart to get into demolition.
At that job fair, James got me an internship with the company I ended up working for after college. When I got there, it was kind of a sink or swim deal. I didn’t get a lot of training. James became the guy that I went to for advice on a daily basis, and he was nice enough to take time out of his day to explain things.
Why do we do things this way? Why don’t we do it that way? James sat me down and helped me understand the answers to those questions. I really appreciated that, especially knowing how busy he was. I’ve thought very highly of him ever since.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not at work?
A: I got married in August 2017. We really enjoy hanging out with friends in the city on weekends. When we’re not doing that, we’ll go hang out with my folks — they live on a lake just north of Indianapolis. We’ll do all sorts of watersports out there, like skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding.
In the winter, I’m an avid snowboarder, so I’ll drive up to Wisconsin on the weekends and get some time in on the hills there. Whenever I can sneak out west and actually play on a real mountain, I love to do that too. I also really enjoy golfing.Meet More of the Team