Dan's family "has always been in construction and earthmoving . . . This type of heavy equipment and construction is in my blood. Even as a little kid, I knew I wanted to run tractors like my dad.”
Dan’s father spent his working years as an operating engineer and foreman in the earthmoving industry, and Dan began following that same career path fresh out of high school.
“I started my first two years after high school as a laborer with a heavy civil company in San Diego. I used to practice on machines after work on my own time. The old-school way is I’d pay another operator a 30-pack of beer to teach me how to run a scraper. I took the initiative because I didn’t want to sit there with a shovel for the rest of my life," Dan said.
Thanks to his initiative, Dan climbed the ladder quickly, and he spent the next decade of his career as an operator.
“I ran everything. Excavators, scrapers, dozers, and blades—you name it, I’ve done it all. Primarily, I liked doing finishing work. I ran a finish dozer and a finish blade, doing pads, slopes, and streets. Finishing is my forte. I liked it because it is fun to move mountains and fill up canyons, but when you’re going back and sculpting that mound into a house pad, you’re building the finished product,” Dan recalled.
While Dan loved operating, he always had his sights set on being a foreman like his dad.
“I went to work for a pretty big company in 2007. After a year, they asked if I wanted to become a foreman. And after a year of that, they asked if I wanted to be a superintendent, so I gave that a shot. I always knew that I’d at least be a foreman, but 15 years ago, I would’ve said I didn’t want to be a superintendent. Then I was a superintendent for ten years,” Dan said.
As the general superintendent for LB3 Enterprises, Dan managed multi-million-yard earthmoving operations around Southern California.
Looking back, Dan said that he never would’ve made it so far in his career without taking risks along the way.
He explained, “It was tough for me to get out of my comfort zone. I was a very good operator. It made sense to me. I could sit there in a dozer and bust my ass all day—everybody was happy, and I was comfortable with it. It was always terrifying to take that next step. Everything I’d done in the end was well worth it. It made me a better person and a better manager. It was just hard for me to have the vision when I was younger.”
Dan kept his advice for the next generation simple: “It’s hard work, but you make a great living. It’s about the basics. Show up every day and be reliable. That’s the guy I want. Those are the guys I’ll give opportunities to. Those are the guys who will grow.”
Think you've got what it takes to run big projects like Dan? Learn more about the superintendent's career path.
Written by Admin
March 2, 2023
Meet the Expert