As one of the largest general contractors in the Southwest, we at Haydon Companies naturally believe that construction is a highly rewarding and worthwhile career, not merely a job that serves as a means to some other eventual end. With Construction Career Days underway this week, we wish to emphasize the perennial need for a high-quality workforce, from skilled workers to estimators, superintendents, and project managers and that construction is a terrific lifelong route for the present generation entering the workforce.

Tom Monsen is among those who made this discovery. Tom began working for Haydon as a laborer in 2006 but initially only with the intent of putting himself through college and eventually dental school. Tom’s father worked 25 years for the City of Mesa as a construction inspector, specifically in roadwork, but Tom didn’t develop an interest in following in his father’s footsteps until later in life.

After being in the field for a short period of time, Tom began to enjoy his work and decided to stick with it. He recalls his very first job with Haydon, Spring Mountain Ski Ranch, just north of Gila Bend, Arizona. “It was a big dirt job – we built a waterski lake community out in the middle of nowhere.” Creating something that brings value and enjoyment to communities is one factor that began a shift in Tom’s mind with respect to his vocational trajectory.

Shortly after that period, a former Haydon employee approached Tom and gave him some career guidance and an opportunity that stuck with him. “Hey, you know, you’ve got two routes, two options: you can stay in the field and go the superintendent route, or I’ve got a spot in the office for you as an intern if you decide to go to college for construction management” Tom recalls the employee saying to him. He took that second route, enrolling in the Construction Management program at ASU and beginning an internship doing estimating for Haydon from 2010 until he graduated in 2014.

Seven years later, Tom is still with Haydon, and he is passionate about his role as a Project Manager in the Civil Division, reporting to Director of Operations Joe Malone. “Tom has always been willing and able to do whatever necessary for his co-workers and Haydon,” says Joe. “Over the course of his fifteen-year career at Haydon, Tom has gained valuable firsthand knowledge and experience in both estimating and operations, which has led to his current role as a Civil Project Manager. Tom has a strong, fundamental understanding of both operations and preconstruction, which allows him to work efficiently and apply this knowledge to building successful projects along with teaching and mentoring those around him.”

Recalling the mentors he has had along the way, Matt Carpenter stands out to Tom. When Matt was the Division’s Chief Estimator, he really took Tom under his wing, helping him better understand his role as an estimator. “Once Tom was in estimating, his desire to learn and to contribute to the team became very clear,” recalls Matt. “While he worked side-by-side with the estimators on daily basis, he also showed dedication to his schoolwork. His great attitude, hard work, and determination illustrated what his future potential was. Once he graduated, he moved to the field and accepted any assignment that was asked of him. The qualities he has shown as an intern still exist today as he continues to advance his career at Haydon.”

With any assignment he accepts, Tom takes a lot of satisfaction in seeing the completion of a great project. “When I was out in Texas,” he recalls, “every project I was on was a bridge job, and it was fun just watching them go up. At the end of each job, it was really cool to drive over the bridges we had built, knowing that we had done solid work from start to finish.”

Tom also recalls a job in El Paso where he and his team worked for 32 hours demoing a bridge over the I-10 and looks back at it being a lot of fun. He has such an upbeat attitude and a lot of energy, and he has really learned over his past 15 years in the industry how to deal with people in both the pleasant and less-than-ideal situations. He sees each engagement as a learning opportunity for future growth and has never let a negative interaction stand in the way of continuing to be positive while building relationships. “Just try to build the best relationships,” says Tom, “have patience, and know that things won’t always work out. Don’t let those things get you down or frustrate you. Not every project will be that way—there’s always the next one. And for those that are challenging, just struggle through them as you continue to learn and improve.”

To those looking to enter the construction industry, Tom emphasizes just how much relationships matter. “Make relationships,” Tom says, “hold those relationships, because down the road, if you burn that bridge, you’ll more than likely run into those people again. Your name is huge, so you definitely need to make every effort to build relationships and stay with good people.” And Tom definitely encourages those folks to consider an internship with Haydon, as it is the people who make the difference in this industry. “Everyone I work with at Haydon is awesome,” says Tom. “Just talk to them. Get to know everybody. Relationships in this industry are huge, and it’s so great to be connected both internally and externally by the network and relationships found at Haydon.”