Jose Lopez didn’t find just a job at Tucker Paving Inc. He found a company that rewarded his hard work and ability to quickly soak up and then apply well a daily education in construction.
A native of Mexico, Jose began working for Tucker Paving 16 years ago.
“I started as a pipe layer,” he says. Promotions through the years made him an equipment operator, foreman, and superintendent. “And now I am a general superintendent,” he says.
Jose puts “training and learning new things every day” at the top of his list of most enjoyable aspects of his job with Tucker Paving. “It has given me many opportunities to learn, and I enjoy working with the people around me,” he says.
Jose wasn’t trained in construction in his native Mexico. He says he was trained at Tucker Paving.
“I didn’t imagine myself doing this job when I was in school,” he says.
Jose holds certifications in confined space operations and trench and excavation operations. Smith System Inc., a Texas-based safe-driving school for commercial and construction drivers and heavy equipment operators, also has certified him.
Jose is married and has five children. “I have a wonderful wife, four girls, and a baby boy,” he says.
He says that in his spare time, he enjoys playing with his children outside and going to church.
In various locations throughout Central Florida each year, and at various times, construction-related organizations sponsor special events to showcase for high school students the many career options and job opportunities within the construction industry. One such event — a big one — was the Central Florida Construction Career Days, held Jan. 28 and 29 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando. CCD Central Florida, at it’s known, is one of four regional CCDs now held annually. The newest one, CCD Tampa, is set for April 13. (See the details at 222.ccdfl.com.)
Each CCD — sponsored primarily by the Florida Department of Transportation, contractors and construction associations — gets better and more exciting each year, with the highlights being the hands-on learning labs for students. The recent CCD Central Florida included more than two dozen learning labs, featuring everything from Geotechnical Engineering and Survey/GPS to Bridge Building 101 and Asphalt Cookies (something right up Tucker Paving’s alley).
Construction is such a broad and rewarding career field, and the CCDs help to show that. There are so many specialties and subspecialties in construction — from laying block to laying asphalt. There’s literally something for everyone. Even if you’re not out in the field doing work with your hands or operating heavy machinery, you can provide very important and valuable construction support in an office setting.
Close to home, we can recommend two excellent places for primary training in a variety of construction-related trades. This training, which often leads directly to very good jobs, is offered by two Polk County public schools — Ridge Career Center (www.ridge.edu) in Winter Haven and Traviss Career Center (www.traviss.edu) in Lakeland. If you think that the construction industry might be a good fit for you, be sure to check out the career center websites for program options. The education you build on today very well could lead to building roads and bridges tomorrow.