A world of hard-earned experience ranging from transcontinental construction projects to bridge building in war zones makes Chuck Valenta uniquely qualified to knock down obstacles and nail down solutions no matter what.
“I’m not sure how smart I am, but I know a lot about a lot of things,” says Valenta modestly one morning as his phone starts ringing and his inbox lights up. “I’m always ready to go to work. Get things done and do them right.”
Valenta isn’t a licensed engineer, but his mind naturally works like one and he’s been tested over and over again in difficult environments where mechanical genius makes all the difference. Talk with him for a while and his talent becomes obvious. He’s a jack of many, many trades with a gift for understanding how things work and quickly getting in control of them. He’s impatient about scoring results and if there isn’t a clear path toward them, he’ll make one. Valenta’s the kind of guy you want to stick to in tricky situations, uncharted territory, and seemingly impossible scenarios.
“I earn the trust of clients right from the start because I think in their best interest and get right to the heart of what they’re trying to do. I don’t tell them how to do their business, I work closely with them to achieve what they need to achieve in ways that fit their comfort levels and purposes. I’m wired to do what works.”
From developing expansive documentation systems in the office to knowing exactly where to place the tip of a drill in the mud and muck of rugged terrain, Valenta is an expert at shaping strategies and processes that bring results. No excuses. No settling. Just unwavering determination. As AOG’s Field Exploration Manager, he brings the full package of mechanical expertise, productive methods, and communication skills bundled together for a superior client experience.
“Our drilling can get very complex and Chuck gives clients confidence,” says AOG President Allan Bush. “From technical details to logistical coordination, he quickly makes sense of complicated situations and those are the situations we gravitate toward. We perform at a very high level and Chuck helps make that possible. He brings a wealth of equipment, planning, and leadership experience to our ranks.”
Valenta doesn’t sit still for long. Every day is full of organizing fieldwork, writing proposals, connecting with clients, searching for field talent, and even some marketing. He knows drilling like the back of his hand. In fact, he’s been managing drill rigs since the 1990s and he’s evolved exploration into high art, formulating a myriad of specifications, standards, and quality control measures for projects before he even thinks about mobilizing equipment. His work amounts to a steep ramp leading to engineers positioned to do their very best work.
“I make sure we maintain top-notch performance standards to collect high-quality data for Garic to analyze and funnel into reports and recommendations. By the time he gets a project, all the fieldwork is complete and he’s ready to dive right in. We are in constant collaboration.”
Valenta can’t say enough about AOG Engineering Department Manager Garic Abendroth. The two work closely, bringing together an ideal combination of talent that every client wants at the core of a geotech team. They are inseparable, anticipating each other’s thinking, and extracting key insights from seasoned instincts.
“We’re of one mind,” Valenta declares with a smile. “We work intelligently and efficiently to easily do the work of more than two people without sacrificing quality. I take responsibility for everything around Garic so he can focus on reporting and his work as the geotech engineer of record on projects. We both want the same thing. We want to leave our mark and make a difference. And AOG gives us the flexibility to do it.”
Valenta also considers the client an important part of the team. He’s known for listening closely and developing a clear understanding of projects and client priorities. Responsiveness is critical in his view, and he’s careful to work with clients, not against them or ahead of them.
“We first have to earn the project on the client’s terms. Then I’ll research and look closer at the property, the drawings, and the various goals to see if I might offer alternatives to the initial plan that might save money or get the job done better. At that point, clients trust me enough to give it serious consideration. I’m a straight shooter and they appreciate the honesty, integrity, and decisiveness that come into play. What we do at AOG is fundamentally a service and we maintain that mindset. Good service is what builds relationships and earns repeat business.”
A Perfect Background for the Best Work
It’s hard to imagine Chuck Valenta on a path in life that doesn’t include math, logic, and a menagerie of mechanical tools. His grandfather owned a garage and Valenta grew up around gears and motors. He was putting cars up on the lift and changing oil by the age of eight. At ten years old he was piloting a boat across Long Island Sound with a liquid compass. He left the sanctuary of his Connecticut neighborhood to join the military, touching off an extraordinary educational experience that threw him in the driver’s seat of challenges he never saw coming.
The U.S. Army sent Valenta to a wide variety of schools and training programs, allowing him to accumulate broad knowledge that connected and overlapped to form a mind ready for anything. He plunged into heavy equipment operations involving all kinds of lifting and loading, as well as transportation logistics over the air, water, and land. There was hazardous cargo handling too, nuclear safety, and management of a warehouse that supplied an entire Division and all the Brigades and Battalions within it. The list goes on and on.
As we mentioned, he is not a licensed engineer but he did serve for a long time in the U.S. Army Engineer Corps and you can easily tell when you hear him explain asphalt requirements for highway paving or blasting equations for opening up quarries. He’s built bridges in Belize for humanitarian purposes and carved over 200 miles of road in a combat zone to get troops from Saudi Arabia to the Euphrates River in Iraq during the first Gulf War. What does all of that mean for his work at AOG?
“It sharpened my instincts for operating standards, guidelines and boundaries,” Valenta explains. “I learned the value of laying the groundwork out properly to ensure good work that achieves goals. There’s a right way to do things and it takes work. That’s what I learned in the military.”
Valenta’s retirement from the military after 22 years sent him on a journey up the ladder of a national geotechnical firm. He transferred his military experience to a corporate world full of different motivations and execution standards. He learned to collaborate and navigate within groups both in the field and in executive conference rooms, working his way up from drilling manager to a principal of the business while grinding out highways, bridges, nuclear power plants, and massive oil pipelines along the way.
Valenta is grateful for his experience on a national stage, but the usual cracks that commonly form within a corporate establishment killed the thrill. Bureaucratic obstacles and other distractions that come with the coordination of thousands of staffers got in the way of his passion and his drive to do good work on the front lines. That’s what made AOG the right opportunity at the right time in a long, rich career.
“I used to wrangle all the elements of a national drilling program, but now I’m focused like a laser on nailing down a lean, mean drilling operation for a powerful team of seasoned professionals. I make a direct difference every day at AOG and I love it. I’m among peers who honor and respect good work and make it happen. We thrive on pushing our potential and that’s what I need. Nothing gives me pride like being part of a solid performance. Doing the kind of work clients are eager to pay for. Proving our worth on a high level.”
Valenta has only been at AOG for a couple of years and he’s already helped us evolve new standards for efficiency and productivity. We can do more in our fieldwork now thanks to him, and he’s helping us shift our clients’ thinking about the value of geotech. His contribution also underscores the fact that our experience and expertise deliver, without being hindered by the red tape and inflexibility of a large firm or the higher prices needed to cover a bunch of excessive overhead.
And while Chuck is as serious as it gets about business, we also appreciate his willingness to forget about it all and go watch a good basketball, baseball, or football game. It’s no surprise that he’s fascinated by the teamwork in team sports and he’s enjoyed every team he coached when his kids were growing up. You might say his bottom line is as clear as the Vince Lombardi picture he proudly displays on his office wall.
“A commitment to excellence in whatever you do. That’s what it’s about. That’s what separates the achievers.”