Paired for Precision: A KC Crew Feature
You’ve heard the saying that football is a “game of inches”. The term originated from legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, but in the movie ‘Any given Sunday,’ Al Pacino reminded us “One half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it”. Inches. It can win or lose you the game. The margin for error is so small. Now, imagine, instead of controlling your body to perform precisely within inches, you are controlling a giant motor grader to perform within hundredths of an inch.
This is exactly what trimming foreman John Stoneburner does, with the help of a robotic total station. John, along with Tyler Gordan, make up the KC trimming crew. When we say “the” KC trimming crew, we mean “the.” They are the one and only trimming crew on the Kansas City team. To say their role at Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) is important, would be an understatement. They are the last line of defense for identifying a problem in the field before paving operations begin, and a project is completed.
Known as “fine grading,” John and Tyler arrive on site after the mass grading has been completed. With John operating the motor grader and Tyler on the skid steer behind him, they customize the site by accurately grading parking lots, streets and road profiles to the exact specifications of the design and drainage requirements. This last step before pavement and curb and gutter are installed requires a high degree of precision and attention to detail. How well John and Tyler perform their job is directly correlated to how successful the concrete and asphalt paving will go.
“This step is what clients see as rounding third and heading for home, as the bulk of the construction process completes with fine grading,” says Tyler Myers, Assistant Vice President. “John and Tyler play a pivotal role in exceeding our clients expectations.”
Part of exceeding client expectations involves identifying problems in the field. Data Prep Technician, Gordon Sires appreciates John’s attention to detail. “John has a good eye for seeing something that is not conducive to paving. If this happens, he’ll give our team a call and we can bring it to the project manager or Engineer before it is too late to fix. Additionally, Tyler’s role is really significant because the more time that John can spend in the blade means the more efficiently he can complete his work.”
John and Tyler get the unique opportunity to work on every project that has concrete or asphalt paving, curb and gutter installation or mainline paving in the scope – which is nearly every project. They work hand in hand with surveyors, project managers, project superintendents and data prep technicians. With only spending, on average, three days on any given project, this duo is nimble, intuitive and team players.
When such a small team is handling a very large responsibility, it’s crucial you and your teammate have each other’s backs, and this is exactly why John and Tyler work so well together. They have been best friends since they were 16 and are more like brothers than coworkers. They grew up in the same rural Missouri town and are currently neighbors, carpooling companions, and hotel roommates during the week.
John has been with ESS for a total of seven years, and operating the motor grader for three of those years. Tyler started with ESS with our Columbia team setting pins for stringline, but has been in Kansas City for a year and half now. Both of them enjoy coming into work every day because of the opportunity to operate equipment. Tyler loves working outdoors. “It isn’t as stressful working out here.” says Tyler. John enjoys the challenge that every day brings. “Every job is different, and for us, the job we’re on changes almost daily. This definitely keeps us on our toes, and I love the challenge this presents.” John went on to say, “If we don’t do our job, there’s no concrete, asphalt or curb and gutter being installed.”
Getting to know John and Tyler was a little like watching both siblings and besties interact with each other. Case in point – when asked what do you do that gets on each other’s nerves, they both responded with “everything” at the same time. But when asked about their favorite memory together, they both struggled to narrow it down to a single one. “We’ve had too many, but I’d say most of our favorite memories involve late nights and being young and dumb.” smirked Tyler. “We pretty much tell each other everything,” supplied John. “There isn’t anything the other doesn’t know about.”
We set out to prove if this was true or not by asking Tyler and John questions about the other to see how many they could get right. Here is what we found out.
Q: What is Tyler’s favorite equipment to operate?
A: The dozer. He doesn’t get a chance to run it too often but I know it’s his favorite.
Correct: If I had a choice, it would definitely be a dozer.
Q: What is Tyler’s favorite genre of music?
A: Tyler listens to some country, but his favorite at heart is rock because that’s what we’ve listened to on long rides trying to stay awake.
Correct: My favorite band right now is Five Finger Death Punch
Q: What is Tyler’s favorite saying?
A: “Okay, Bud”
Correct: I tell John that whenever he asks me to do something.
Q: Does Tyler prefer Monster Energy Drink or coffee?
A: Tyler prefers coffee. He doesn’t drink it as much at work when it’s hot out.
Correct: I’ve been known to drink up to 7 cups on a weekend morning.
Q: What is John’s favorite equipment to operate?
A: John’s favorite would definitely have to be the blade.
Correct: For sure. I love getting in it every day
Q: What is John’s favorite genre of music?
A: It has changed through the years. It used to be hip hop when we were younger, but I’d say John’s favorite is country now.
Correct: Yep, my current favorite artist is Tyler Childers
Q: What is John’s favorite saying?
A: F*@k me to tears
Correct: Ha! Yep, that would be it.
Q: Does John prefer Monster Energy Drink or coffee?
A: A Monster
Correct: Yeah, Monster all the way.
You weren’t surprised by the fact they got them all right, were you? Us either. Success for this two person crew is measured in hundredths, and they keep winning because of their talent for timing, intuition, and brotherhood.