Recently, we had an exciting opportunity to ride along with Ready Mix Batch & Dispatch Supervisor at Knife River in Corvallis, OR, Hollie Rathbun, as she organized and oversaw a large concrete pouring job here in the Mid-Valley.

The day started at 5 a.m. We hopped into Hollie’s pick-up truck and went down to the Ready Mix plant to help fill the mixer trucks that would be meeting us at the job site right around sun up. There were three full truckloads needed for today’s project.

In the darkness, truck drivers cleaned their trucks and performed routine inspections while their mixers were being loaded. As the second mixer truck pulled into the bay to get filled with concrete, Hollie rushed back to her truck to beat the first mixer to the job site.

It was so cold we could see our breath and the sun was just barely peeking over the side of the hill as Hollie directed the first mixing truck to the loading dock of the pump truck.

Today, the crew of about a dozen people was making a couple of walls and a floor. Hollie was supervising, there were two technicians working quality control, three mixer truck drivers, the boom pump operator, and a crew of 6 men laying and smoothing the concrete as it came out of the boom pump.

Boom pump operator, Lucas, was using a system of joystick-like controls to navigate a towering boom arm and pump that was connected to his truck to lay the wet concrete right where it was needed. Lucas explained that pump operators are responsible for the timing and flow of the concrete laying portion of the project. It’s his job to ensure all the concrete is out of the truck and getting smoothed out before it starts to harden.

Quality Control Tech, Bradley, discussed that his job was a great mix of physical and mental skills. Quality control technicians work in the background of job sites, taking samples of each truckload of concrete and making sure it fits the specifications of the job.

Something that’s great about Knife River and other construction companies like it is that they are willing to train the right people to do the job. This attitude from employers eliminates lots of barriers for people to obtain positions that turn into high-paying careers with benefits. Many positions only require you to pass a pre-employment screening and have a valid driver’s license.

Other jobs at the plant like plant maintenance laborers, batch plant operators, and dispatchers are positions that keep workers at the Ready Mix plant all-day looking after the well-being of specific tasks and systems of operation.

Batch Plant Operator, Aaron, controls the system that fills the concrete mixing trucks with appropriate ratios of ingredients for each specific job. “You have to be alert and pay lots of attention to the details.”

Dispatchers like Amanda will spend their days in the office managing orders, jobs, and drivers. Amanda’s duties require high levels of organization to keep the operation running effectively to ensure customer satisfaction.

You can watch the whole experience and meet the Knife River crew by watching this A Step Ahead video.