Alpha-Omega Geotech got involved in the Kansas City area’s first Dozer Day in 2019 and we’re proud to sponsor the event’s return this year at the Truman Sports Complex October 22-23. Why is Dozer Day important? Our CEO and President, Allan Bush, P.E., offers some insight as preparations leading up to the event are being finalized.
Q: Allan, how would you describe the basic appeal of Dozer Day?
AB: You know, I can remember playing in the dirt as a kid. I spent a lot of time digging around in my own ‘dirt box’, getting creative, making things, and having fun. I think that was probably the first spark of what would become my interest in construction and engineering. Dozer Day offers a similar spark, but it’s so much more inspiring. There’s plenty of opportunity to dig around in the dirt, but there’s also direct interaction with heavy equipment under the safe supervision of professionals. Video games are fun, but if you want to see a kid’s eyes really light up, put them at the controls of these real-world machines. They’re fascinated by the massive size of everything and the sound of hydraulics powering up. It’s very engaging for boys and girls. They’re not running around distracted. They focus and listen closely to what the professionals tell them about how everything works. It’s a unique experience and they don’t forget it.
Q: What’s the bigger picture of the benefit for kids and their families?
AB: Heavy equipment work and skilled Trades are not for everyone, but the message we want to send is that these are viable, rewarding, and interesting career paths that can open important doors. You can build a future you can be proud of, and make a difference in your community, too. These are professional positions. They involve work that requires skill. They’re not minimum wage jobs, and replacing the people who do them is not easy. Their work is their craft, and they take a lot of pride in doing it. Just come out and watch equipment operators swing huge mechanical arms and buckets with the kind of grace and precision that’s hard to imagine until you see it. It can really open up young minds to the possibilities ahead as they grow up.
Q: Should parents be concerned about encouraging risky careers?
AB: Heavy equipment work used to be seen as particularly rough and dangerous, and maybe not as appealing as white collar career paths. But so much has changed. First of all, safety is now the highest priority across the board in construction. It’s been elevated in a way that removes so much of the risk to workers. There are elaborate procedures, rules, and equipment now that keep work environments safe both above and below ground. And at Dozer Day, you’ll see how much the machines themselves have improved. They’re not only designed better in terms of safety, they’re just more comfortable, too. You’ll see cushioned seats, air conditioning, GPS, and even music amenities. Getting into the driver’s seat of some of these machines is like stepping into your own private office, complete with what you need to do good work in the conditions you want. It’s just not the same type of work that fits the stereotype of the past.
Q: What can Dozer Day mean for the construction industry?
AB: It’s no secret that we need more people in the construction industry and the Trades. There’s so much momentum behind building up the country, from core infrastructure to housing and ambitious commercial developments. There’s a lot of work to be done and we need more help. That’s not going to change. Plus, we’re seeing people retiring from these occupations at a faster rate than young people joining the workforce. Something’s got to happen to turn that around. The fact is there’s a lot of opportunity that wasn’t there before. And I think if we can expose more young people to what’s available, they’ll want to check it out, and many will find their place. Just raising the profile of the trades and making them more visible at Dozer Day can help draw more interest when kids get a little older and start considering what to do with their lives.
Q: AOG’s interests certainly align with the event, but why go the extra mile and sponsor it?
AB: We want to do everything we can to promote construction careers in general, and our role in construction specifically. Digging with heavy equipment is at the heart of our work in Geotechnical engineering. That’s why we’re active in the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the National Utility Contractor Association (NUCA). We see NUCA as an incredibly important Trade association because of their focus in the area of excavation. And we’re very impressed by how they’ve organized and driven the success of Dozer Day. AOG crews share a world beneath the surface of the ground with utility workers and so many others. We want to clear a path for the next generation of professionals to join us, and take on fun, creative, and exciting challenges with real purpose. Sponsorship of Dozer Day is another way of doing that. Plus, we value the fundraising component that makes an exceptional event even better. Proceeds benefit schools, charities, and other organizations focused on children. NUCA working together with the Nutter Family Foundation and sponsors like Alpha-Omega Geotech is a terrific combination that’s making a mark where it truly matters.
Learn more and get involved in this year’s Dozer Day at kansascity.dozerday.org. We’ll see you there!