Scott Walters, center, a superintendent at Dan Vos Construction Co. in Ada, accepts congratulations from Tradesmen International’s Ed Rojeck, left, and ABC’s Greg Sizemore, after winning ABC’s Craft Professional of the Year honors. Courtesy Dan Vos Construction
Scott Walters is taking some good-natured ribbing at Dan Vos Construction Co. sites this month.
A Dan Vos superintendent, Walters was named the Associated Builders and Contractors Craft Professional of the Year at the annual Careers in Construction awards ceremony March 4 in Fort Lauderdale.
“The whole company is very supportive, but they’re not going to let me forget this,” said Walters, who has been with the firm since 1988. “There’s nicknames, the guys brought me a crown — a lot of joking.”
Walters was one of two nominees from West Michigan for the national honor, with the other being Kent Companies Superintendent Michael VanBemden.
All four nominees received trips to Fort Lauderdale for Workforce Week, as well as Bosch toolkits.
“We’re very proud to have such an excellent craftsman dedicated to doing great work in West Michigan,” said Norm Brady, president and CEO of ABC West Michigan. “Scott’s commitment to safety and ongoing training throughout his career has really contributed to the success of many projects in our region.”
With the win, Walters took home the big prize: a 2016 Ram Tradesman truck, a Bosch ReaXX table saw and a trophy.
“Scott demonstrates an uncompromising commitment to safety, the professional development of his colleagues, the highest quality of construction and the satisfaction of his clients,” said David Chapin, ABC national chair and president of Willmar Electric Service in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Scott is a tremendous ambassador for the construction industry through his dedication to his job and his community, and ABC is thrilled to honor him.”
In the past five years, Walters has managed more than $99 million worth of construction, including Gordon Food Service’s North American headquarters, Bissell Inc.’s Innovation Center, the Spectrum Health Cancer Center in Reed City and several projects for Perrigo Co.
He said the Gordon Food Service project is likely his favorite, with several other large projects near the top, as it best showcases what the West Michigan construction industry can do. He still has a soft spot for the smaller projects, however. Walters completed a small restaurant that took about six weeks of detail work, which, as a finishing carpenter, he wholly enjoys.
Looking at those finished projects, regardless of size, is among the top reasons Walters enjoys the construction industry.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction, and you can stand back and see what you’ve done with your own hands,” Walters said. “You can build something — use your hands to do the work yourself.
“And I really like being out there with the guys and, at this stage, I’m trying to mentor a lot.”
With construction companies across the country feeling a pinch from a lack of employees, Walters said it seems both students and schools don’t fully realize the potential of a job in construction. High schools are dropping shop classes and for students to learn those skills, they have to attend dedicated career centers.
In any case, he feels some of the jobs that aren’t as “glorified” are in danger of being forgotten, despite the many paths in construction that can lead to a satisfying career.
He began his career in a furniture factory in Lowell, before figuring out that path wasn’t for him.
“There’s a very diverse field out there and it’s good paying, very busy,” he said. “It’s just finding that next generation of people. I think it’s coming around.”
Walters said the job satisfaction from a career in construction is high, which is why he has taken such a large role in helping develop young talent. When new workers step back and see a completed project, he said it often inspires them to dig deeper into the career, learn new skills, gain confidence and become a stronger team member who is willing to contribute ideas.
“I really respect the fact that Scott is watching out for our younger people, training them and making sure they understand what it means to do things the Dan Vos way,” said Dan Vos, company president and CEO.
“Our people trust in him and want to work hard for him. He truly cares about people and wants to see them succeed. Scott is a perfect example of living out the ‘merit shop’ philosophy. This award couldn’t be more fitting.”