EV Construction Field Manager Can’t Stay Out of the Classroom
Brian Marion, a lifelong learner and EV Construction Field Manager, will return to the classroom this month as the teacher instead of the student. The West Michigan Construction Institute (WMCI) is gearing up for its inaugural school year with a full course load. As stated on its website, the team at WMCI shares a mission to, “build strong communities by preparing the next generation of construction professionals for lifelong careers.” They are preparing to do so by enlisting the help of experienced construction professionals currently working in the field, and Brian stepped up to the plate.
Brian will be teaching a nine-week CORE course. Each week will have a different area of focus aimed at providing basic industry knowledge. Students will learn safety protocols and be introduced to construction math, hand tools, power tools, construction drawings, basic rigging, communication skills, employability skills and materials handling. When asked what most excites him about this opportunity he shared he is looking forward to interactions with people new to our industry, teaching them industry basics and sharing some of the supplemental benefits of a career in construction – the ability to travel and experience new places, seek out adventures and see what lies outside of West Michigan. In his punny style, he stated, “you don’t learn how to drive by sitting in a parked car.”
Brian’s affinity for continued learning began at a young age. As a 13-year-old boy, Brian helped his grandfather, a stone mason, work on fireplaces and chimneys. He made the mortar, carried the stone and stocked the scaffold. Because of his knowledge of mixing mortar, he started doing swimming pools at 15, learning how to trowel cement on the pools and a little about plumbing, electrical, pool house construction, etc. That led to Brian building pole barns for the agricultural industry. From there, he was given an opportunity to be part of a new steel erecting crew for a company rebuilding Tyson Foods (formerly Bil-Mar Farms) after a major fire. He spent ten years traveling the country erecting steel and concrete precast structures for a variety of large corporations, giving him great exposure to how buildings are built on a very large scale. During this time, he was cross-trained in carpentry, finish carpentry, concrete, demolition, excavation and more.
On the education side, Brian completed the Associated Builders and Contractors “Wheels of Learning” training program, which was a four-year version of an apprenticeship from ABC. Following that opportunity, Brian decided he didn’t want to die on the end of a shovel, so he took any chance to go to a class or seminar that was offered. Then, at 35, Brian went back to Ferris State University to earn his Construction Management degree. Now he has been a Superintendent/Field Manager for 30 years, and he is loving it!
When asked what he loves most about the industry, Brian shared “First, it’s the project diversity. One project might be building a wastewater treatment plant, the next a Wal-Mart, maybe an addition at a food manufacturing facility or managing the renovation of a 150-year-old church. It’s always changing. How could you not love starting with a two-dimensional plan and transforming it into a three-dimensional vision? Second, I love the TEAMS and the dynamics of working with the different age groups and skill levels. I like to hear how they see the projects and how they would plan them. Lastly, it’s the travel. I have been blessed to work in many outstanding areas across America. The culture, food, sights and people are memories that are a big part of how I have gained knowledge and experience in my career.”
When asked if there’s any part of being an instructor for WMCI that makes him nervous, with a big grin, he responded, “Nothing… No FEAR… I want to make it fun and engaging. I want them to feel like they are learning something. Knowledge is power.”
Brian’s best advice for anybody starting their career in construction is “Attitude is everything. If you have a positive attitude through the ups and downs, and work hard, you will succeed.”
When you see Brian around the WMCI campus and are looking to strike up a conversation, obviously construction is a great topic, but if you really want to see him smile, ask him about his motorcycle.