Western would like to recognize Rod O'Bannon in this month's employee spotlight. Rod has been doing an excellent job with Western's Great Plains Roofing & Sheet Metal Branch!
Kudos, Rod – and thank you for being a valued member of the Western team!
Interview with Rod O'Bannon
- How many years had you been with Great Plains Sheet Metal before the acquisition with Western in 2019?
I began in 2000 as a shop foreman.
- How many years have you been in the industry? And how has it changed?
I started with the Sheet Metal Workers Union in 1993. Back then there were no architectural classes. It was simply a basic layout and basic welding. Now, we are seeing a huge increase in training advancements and continuing education. With the use of computers and tablets, apprentices are gaining a strong portfolio of education including drafting and estimating, among several other key areas.
- What other changes have you seen as the industry has evolved?
I believe that it is the evolution of facades that have helped shape the future of sheet metal. We used to see sheet metal being used primarily for coping gutter and drip edge. Now we are in a strong design phase, seeing entire facades being crafted from artistic metal. Technological advancements have moved us from having two guys running a hand brake to now using an auto brake. This means stronger production and increased safety for our tradesmen. With the advancements of computers and technologies looking at and measuring jobs has become more advanced and streamlined. Vendors have also played a key role in advancements offering better products, stronger education with installation, and increases in warrantees. Years ago, warrantees on color were only five years, now we see color warrantees for as long as 30 years.
- How many employees work for Great Plains Sheet Metal?
On average we have about 17 – 30.
- What are some of your more high-profile projects?
– KCI: Kansas City International Airport
– Fort Riley Hospital
– KC Pet Project
– Lawrence Hospital
- How would you describe your transition to Western?
Overall, I would say it has been a great transition. As expected, there was some initial skepticism moving from a smaller shop to a large corporation, however, everything to transpire since has been positive. Having standard operating procedures and using a chain of command took some adjusting but the increase and advancements in technology have been a tremendous improvement. Western has also given us a great team to move forward with and above all, I would say that the greatest opportunity to stem from being purchased by Western is the increase in bid opportunities outside of our area. We had some opportunity previously but the direct connection that Western provides to other branches offers limitless possibility. After connecting with the Tulsa Branch at the 2020 Western Annual Meeting, we secured at $450k project at OSU Hospital. This is only one branch out of the 30 Western branches that provide us with potential opportunities.
- What about you, Rod? What do you personally enjoy?
I really enjoy pheasant hunting but most of my time is consumed taking care of our 80-acre ranch. We raise and sell cattle and take care of 19 Shires horses. If you are not familiar with Shire Horses, they are very similar to the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. They are extremely large, black horses that are very beautiful. We also have several dogs including 2 Irish Setters (one blind), 2 labs, a Newfoundland and one Shepard. We also have one cat named Bullshit. We named it that because I think its bullshit that someone would dump her, so we kept her after she showed up.