National Apprentice Week 2017: Nikki Ford

We interviewed several apprentices at Sellen for National Apprentice Week 2017 to hear first-hand about their experience. First up: Nikki Ford, a heavy equipment operator at the MultiCare Covington project. She joined Sellen’s team in 2015 and operates the site’s elevator and forklift.  As a heavy equipment operator, she is at the heart of the job site each and every day, making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

What drew you to the construction industry?

To be honest, it’s just really fun being a heavy equipment operator. It’s fast-paced and you’re always needed. I get to see everything that’s happening on-site.

Who are your mentors and how have they helped you in your career?

There are two: Mike Carey and Arron Gundlach. Mike is just amazing. He is so encouraging and has really helped me through the entire apprenticeship process. Arron was the first superintendent at Sellen that I worked with, and he was so impressive. He was willing to do whatever needed to get the job done. I’ve learned a lot from each of them.

How has the apprenticeship program helped you become better at your trade?

The training is really good. We go to the training center for a few weeks, get proficient on a piece of equipment and then go out into the field. It’s the best way to learn, in my opinion.

What inspires you to be at your best every day?

I think we’re all driven by what the building is going to look like when it’s done. We’re all working together on it. Being a forklift operator, I’m also in charge of the yard on the job site. I need to set it up in the most efficient way possible to make sure the job runs smoothly. It feels really good making a contribution like that — like I’m working on a team that’s the best of the best.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

As the heavy equipment operator, I am constantly trying to find the most efficient way to do things — the most logical path or sequence of work. I like helping everyone out when they need it the most.

What is the best advice you have received?

Take a breath. Sometimes things are going to get hectic and crazy busy, but the building is still going to be there. It’s still going to get built. And, if possible, don’t take work home with you. When you come back to work the next day, the building is still going to be there!

Anything else you’d like to say?

I want to give a shout out to my husband Albert, who has supported me 100% through my apprenticeship! It takes a special person to be so supportive during this process.

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Nikki Ford
With Sellen Since 2015
Heavy Equipment Operator at MultiCare Covington