Francisco Castellon has a philosophy that guides his daily routine:
“I’m laying a foundation of people, not just pipe.”
Francisco, also known as “Paco,” has been with William A. Hazel for 23 years. He’s currently a Pipe Foreman, leading a crew that installs sewer/sanitary, storm sewer, and drinking water pipe.
Before coming to work here, Francisco worked in construction, and as a bartender in a couple of restaurants, but he wanted something more stable.
“One of my cousins worked for William A. Hazel back then, he called me up and told me a position was available.” He had a wife and a young toddler to support, and faced one other significant barrier to gaining secure employment:
“I didn’t speak English very well back then,” he said. “These guys still gave me a chance, and now I’m a foreman. I’m forever grateful to God first, then to the company.”
As he moved up into leadership roles, he started thinking about how to help other employees in the same way he’d been helped.
“Every day I say, ‘Good morning’ to my guys, like I was raised. I want to make a personal connection with the people I’m leading, and even my supervisor. I want to be the one to ask, ‘How’s your family?’ and mean it.”
It’s become such a routine among his crew that sometimes they’ll come up to him at lunch and say, “Oh, I forgot to say, ‘Good morning!’”
“I want to make sure I’m teaching everyone in the crew,” he said, “and make sure everyone can do different stuff. That’s a benefit for the company and for me, so we have a lot of people in the same crew to do different work.”
And as a result? Two guys went to other companies to work as pipe foremen! “They’re over there shooting elevations, reading plans, doing all the construction things. One is even working for county government in Maryland!”
He beamed with pride.
When he’s not working, his favorite thing to do is spend time with his wife of 27 years, Jolanda. “She makes fun of me for it,” he laughed. “But I love to go shopping with her, or just take a drive through the countryside, looking at nature. You can understand why we don’t get to spend a lot of time together on the weekends.”
That’s because Francisco is also a pastor.
He’s been with a local Spanish-speaking Pentecostal church for 17 years. However, in the past three years, he has taken classes, and stepped up into leadership.
He & Jolanda have three children: Michael, age 24, Nelson, age 21, and Rachel, age 16. Michael even worked with Francisco on the site for a while, but only on a temporary basis. He’s studying engineering now, and his dad couldn’t be more proud.
There’s only one thing he would change.
“Ten or fifteen years ago, there were 40 pipe crews. Thirty-nine of them were led by Americans, and I was the only Hispanic.” Francisco hopes to show other Hispanic men that they too, can work their way up into management roles.
“They [William A. Hazel] give opportunities to the ones who want to step up to the next level,” he said. “Someday, I would love to look around a gathering of company foremen, and see other Hispanic guys there.”
Not only has Pam Glascock-Minor been with the same company for over twenty years, but she’s one of the many second-generation employees that have built their careers at William A. Hazel.
“My dad was a supervisor and foreman, and I was actually dating someone on his crew.” She laughed. “It could make coming home from a date interesting.”
As a fresh high school graduate, Pam started as a data-entry clerk in the parts department. She made it her goal to help others in whatever capacity she could–substituting for missing employees, going the extra mile for deadlines, and rooting for the underdog.
Soon, her very unique skill set came to light: not only was she good at math, she had a keen insight into what made people tick.
“Fundamentally, I’m a problem solver,” she said. “If you tell me, ‘There’s no way that this can be done,’ then it’s time for me to take it over, & let me show you how it can be done.”
Larry Glascock,, Pam’s father, just retired from William A. Hazel after over four decades.
Pam did go on to marry the man who worked on her father’s crew all those years ago, Joey Minor. He still works for the company as well, and took over Mr. Glascock’s crew when he retired.
Now, Pam acts as the job cost manager for the entire company–the information network that allows projects to move smoothly from start to finish.
“I think some people just see it as paper-shuffling, just filing invoices, packing slips, parts orders and miles of time sheets. But these are like the circuits in a motherboard, connecting the job to the customer.”
When she’s not working, Pam wants to be outside as much as possible. Whether it’s swimming, hiking, or playing with her two boys, she takes every opportunity to soak in some sunshine.
However, her true passion is gardening. Her house is surrounded with coneflowers, flocks, & tulips. Her green beans are about to come in, and when her peppers are ready, she’ll chop & freeze them to make chili in the winter. She even grew the tomatoes that her family ate on their last hamburger!
When asked about her goals and dreams for the future, Pam was optimistic.
“Of course, I want to grow, learn new things, but I love my work, and I’m really content here. I was lucky to find a job without a college degree, even though I took several classes.”
Her next step in life is to prepare her sons for adulthood. Pam has two boys, Joseph & Joshua, ages 10 and 12.
“I just wonder what life will be like for them. Everyone has a college degree now. What kind of career will they have?”
But, like always, Pam works to find a way around negative thinking.” I believe life is what you make it. I try to teach our boys, ‘Do you want something? How bad do you want it? Are you willing to work for it?’”
If her boys are anything like their mom, they’ll be positive, hard-working young men that will make her proud.
Cliff Marshall said, as though it was nothing spectacular, “I started with Mr. William A. Hazel on June 22nd, 1977.”
In a culture where most people move jobs every 2-3 years, staying with a single company for forty years is a testimony both to Cliff’s work ethic, and his satisfaction with his job.
During the week, he’s a foreman for a “Punch Crew,” the group of workers who prepare the manholes, lay the pipe, install the valve & storm boxes, lay water lines, back fill curb & gutter, and clean up after the job is done.
“I’m basically a jack of all trades, master of none,” he said. “It is hard to describe everything I do.”
He didn’t start out wanting to be a leader. “I put in an application as a laborer.” However, he moved up over the years as his perseverance & dedication paid dividends. ” I paid a lot of attention to the work,and took a lot of pride in the work. It was an absolutely wonderful company to work for.”
He speaks with the most pride when he talks about his crew. “I’m proud of how they work as a team. We just have a good time, everyone laughing, talking, and getting the work done. That’s what life is all about.”
For his 40th anniversary, William A. Hazel gave an appreciation day, where he handed out awards for every five years that an employee had been with the company. Only one other worker has been with the company longer.
He even brought a family member into the fold! His niece’s husband, Brandon, works in the engineering department. He’s been with the company six years, and has his own five-year award.
On the weekends, Cliff enjoys bartending. “I work for a lady who owns a catering business, and we do a lot of weddings.”
He’s also married. his wife is Cornelia Marshall, and they have three children: Courtney 27, Clifton 31, Natallia. 16
When he’s able to take a breath in his busy schedule, he loves to play golf. Every now and then he’ll go pond fishing. Mostly, he’s looking forward to retirement, and focusing on keeping his health strong.
“I take it one day at a time, but I look forward to the day I can take it easy, tend bar, play golf, and just enjoy life.”
Jonathan Miller turns 44 in August. On his days off, you might find him playing his guitar, learning a Pearl Jam song, trying a craft beer, or spending time with his two teenage kids.
“They weren’t supposed to grow up,” he laughed. “Now here they are, growing up!”
However, in 2001, Jonathan had a newborn daughter, a degree in geography, and had no idea what direction his career should take.
“That was when 9/11 rocked the world,” he said. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in the area.”
Sixteen years later, he’s glad that he did, and that he chose to work with William A Hazel.
“These guys had a reputation (even back then) as a strong, reliable company, and that’s what my new family needed.”
He hasn’t looked back since.
Now, Jonathan is an estimator with the engineering department, and is glad to be in an environment where he likes the people he works with.
He also enjoys the balance between solitude and teamwork that his department offers him. There’s a natural rhythm to his work–preparing bids, going over the details, and the rush to write and edit everything for customers by a deadline. However, each project has its own unique variables and challenges.
“In the beginning, I can sit at the drafting table with a cup of coffee, and start taking off raw quantities for a set of plans. That’s how we learn the job.”
In the quiet, he begins gathering all the raw data for what a potential job will cost.
He laughed and said “That’s almost relaxing at this point.”
It becomes more of a team-oriented role later on in the process–and Jonathan and his co-workers might even find mistakes that the civil engineers made!
“When I first started here, I said to my supervisor, ‘These guys are specialists. They’re experts! They don’t have mistakes in their plans, right?’ Well, they actually laughed at me. It was great. Now, after thousands of bids, and lots of years on the job, it’s easy to spot something that might be off, and bid it the right way.”
That level of teamwork is one of the best things about Jonathan’s work environment. “Everyone has each other’s back,” he said. “There’s a lot of good people here, and they’ve been good to me.”
“What I like about what I do here,” he said, “is that William A. Hazel is set up differently than most companies. Some estimators are also project managers, and if you have to divide your attention between management and estimating, one of those tasks is going to get priority, and the other one is going to suffer.”
Now, even Jonathan is surprised by how content he is in his work.
“I’m really satisfied here.” he said. “I mean, I’d love to have world peace, or a million dollars, or maybe retire to St. Thomas or something. But William A Hazel has been good to me.”