Army Vet | Passionate Safety Leader: An Employee-Owner Spotlight On Evaristo Gonzales
What are some words that come to mind when you think of this great Nation’s Soldiers: selflessness, dedication, leadership, protectors, integrity, elite? These, undoubtedly, are the same qualities you’d want in a fellow employee-owner who’s got your back on the job site. Evaristo is both – a recently retired Sergeant First Class for the United States Army and a Safety Coordinator for Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS), and he’s proud to serve in both capacities.
Hailing from a small town in southwest Texas, Evaristo chose a career in the military because he wanted to do something that would take him completely out of his comfort zone. Having completed five overseas deployments, primarily to the Middle East, the Army did just that. But nothing could prepare him for when he met his now wife, Elissa. After 8 years together, she still takes his breath away. Proudly raising a large blended family, they have a total of 8 children, including two sets of twin girls, adopted children, a recent Oklahoma University grad and Soldier currently assigned to Fort Benning, GA.
Evaristo joined ESS as an intern with our safety team in August 2020 under the Army’s Career Skills Program. This program allows retiring or separating service members the opportunity to participate in pre-employment programs within the last six months before separation from the service at a company of their choosing. It allows them to build on their prior experiences and skills acquired during their time in the military in order to establish careers in the civilian sector.
During Evaristo’s internship, he was given an in-depth introduction to the many project scopes that ESS specializes in. He started as a laborer with various crews in the KC area. This allowed him to work under knowledgeable and experienced foremen, giving him the opportunity to see safety procedures and processes from their perspective. Evaristo worked both independently and with close guidance from members of our safety team, and on November 19th, he joined us as a full time employee-owner.
We caught up with Evaristo recently to find out more about his journey to ESS. Before we sit down with Evaristo, though, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank him and all our veterans for their service to our country. Our Nation’s greatness is built on the foundation of their courage and sacrifice and we are proud to have Veterans on our team.
ESS: Nearly 22 years ago, you answered the calling to protect our country and your fellow brothers and sisters in Arms. Now you’ve joined the ranks of ESS, again vowing to protect those around you. What made you choose a career in safety?
Evaristo: I have always had a passion for workplace safety, and having had the privilege of serving in safety roles in the military, I knew I wanted to continue pursuing this field in the civilian sector, specifically in construction. I’ve always been fascinated by the expertise of those who work in the construction industry, and I recognize the hazards they face every day, so I chose to contribute to their success by keeping them safe.
ESS: What aspects of your military career helped you prepare for and be successful in a safety career with ESS?
Evaristo: One of the first things you learn in the military is adaptability. In the construction industry, where the environment can change rapidly, the military taught me how to quickly adapt, improvise or make changes to suit the transition while maintaining 100% productivity. Also, the safety of our personnel and equipment was a major contributor to our success in the military, and the same is true on a construction site.
ESS: How long have you been in the safety industry and why choose ESS?
Evaristo: I started my safety career while still in the military in 2012, and was assigned on a permanent basis as a Unit Safety Officer in 2015 until my retirement this October. After extensive research and networking with people in the region, I found that ESS had one of the most favorable reputations that highly values the safety of their employee-owners and the quality of their work. I knew that this was the type of culture and organization I wanted to learn and grow with and be a part of.
ESS: What was the most rewarding aspect of your military career?
Evaristo: I was in charge of an Honor Guard and had the privilege of rendering funeral honors to veterans and presenting families with a small token of appreciation for their loved one’s service to our Nation.
ESS: Do you have any advice for military or vets looking for positions in the construction industry?
Evaristo: Service members, regardless of specialty, are taught to be critical thinkers and problems solvers. They tend to adapt well in a fast paced environment, and deeply value teamwork. I believe the construction industry is a great fit for former servicemen and women due to the similarities in teamwork, work culture and commitment to reaching organizational goals. I would encourage them to consider joining the construction industry at any capacity and explore the many opportunities it offers them to continue using their valuable skill sets.
ESS: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Evaristo: I’d just like to add that one of the things I enjoy most in this company is the people I get to associate with every day. I have witnessed firsthand their desire and investment into building a spectacular culture and the overall goal of building a bigger and stronger team. I am very grateful for this tremendous opportunity and look forward to continuing to learn and grow with this company as an employee-owner.
Want to learn more about the man behind the uniform? Check out these fun facts about Evaristo.
Name something most people don’t know about you? My nickname is “Billy”. It’s used so often that I sometimes still forget that my real name is “Evaristo.”
Where can we find you on the weekends? The City Market, Bass-Pro or Harbor Freight. I also enjoy fishing and tinkering around in my garage.
What is your drink of choice? A Moscow Mule and any IPA.
What guilty pleasure song do you jam out to in your truck? I get more excited than I probably should admit when the first 9 seconds of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” plays on the radio… Or on my song-list.