It is wonderful to see peers nominate each other! Nominated by Troy Newton, the Empowering Pumps & Equipment Industry Person of the Week is Patrick Ross, Pump Station Maintenance Supervisor for Mount Pleasant Waterworks in South Carolina. This is what he had to share!
Q. How did you get started working in the Industry?
Patrick: I stumbled into the wastewater field just like most everyone I know in the industry. I lucked out and got hired by the best company in the industry (Mount Pleasant Waterworks) as a wastewater treatment operator. At first, having come from a business background, I was not sure what I was getting into. It soon became apparent that this was a job that I could thrive in. It was a feel-good job that was interesting. I was and still am excited to learn about wastewater treatment.
Fast forward a few years, and I now supervise the pump station maintenance department. Much different than my time in operations, as days and nights are now much more chaotic…and I love it! My crew and I manage 163 pump stations and 200+ grinder pumps throughout the town of Mount Pleasant. We even do our own pump rebuilds. The water is smellier than before, but the end goal is still there: Clean Water.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job? What are you most proud of?
Patrick: I have a few favorite things about my job. First, is the crew that I work with (pictured above). They teach me and I teach them. We’re all on the same page and we strive for excellence, daily. Second, Resources. MPW allows me to facilitate efficiency. What I mean is we get what we need to get any job done that needs to be done. To me, that’s invaluable. There is always something to improve upon.
Q. What advice would you give to someone new to the industry?
Patrick: The best piece of advice I have is what I was told my first day: don’t lick your lips! In all seriousness, this career opened up my “blinders” to a whole new world. My outlook on my work life is different now and I love what I do. The advice I give to newcomers is to buy into the company’s strategic plan, ask lots of questions, and whether you manage 150 people or sweep the floors, do it extremely well.
Q. What are some questions you get asked by your customers? How do you answer them?
Patrick: “Why does it take so many of y’all to do fix this?”. I love this one because it opens the door for me to teach the public about what we do – whether they want to hear it or not. These types of questions are indicative to the nature of our job; in that for the most part what we do is out of sight, out of mind to the general public (until they see 5 guys standing around and 1 guy shoveling and have the perception that there are 4 guys milking the clock). Nine times out of ten, the perception is wrong because the public doesn’t understand what we do. I make it a point to be as impactful as possible with these educational moments.
During hurricane season or a mass power outage, we hear “There’s some loud tractor running non-stop at the pumping station down the street from me and I need someone to turn it off.” This is another time where I get to do some educating…Dear Sir/Ma’am, the category 3 hurricane that just came through here wiped out power to this station and about 30 more stations in the area. Without power, we cannot run the pumps. If we cannot run the pumps, then the station and piping will back up with wastewater and either spill out onto the ground or potentially into your home. That loud tractor is a generator that supplies power to the pump station so that this doesn’t happen. I assure you that we will turn it off as soon as possible.
Thank you, Patrick, for being our Pump Person of the Week and for your work in the wastewater industry. We look forward to keeping up with you through the #PumpTalk Community!