Tower Force Times – Vol 15 – Keeping American Energy Going During COVID-19


Tower Force keeps America going during CCP Coronavirus COVID-19

Tower Force - Keeping American Energy Flowing

Brave Tower Force crews working to keep America’s energy flowing

Tower Force crews are working in places as far away as Wyoming to ensure the flow of American energy gets to the consumer. The repair and maintenance of columns and reactors in petrochemical and refining facilities are an essential part of the overall need for energy in this time of great need to combat the CCP Virus COVID-19. We want to say thank you to them and all of the energy workers that are doing their part to keep the lights on and the gas flowing in America.

 

 


Tower Force

 

 

Welcome Violeta Cardenas!

Violeta Cardenas has recently joined Tower Force in the accounting department. Her duties will be bookkeeping, invoicing and accounts payable. Please next time you are in the office say hello to Violeta!

 

 


The Wheelhouse

Tower Force requests help for The Wheelhouse

 

Tower Force is a huge supporter of a local Deer Park non-profit called The Wheelhouse. Unfortunately the CCP Coronavirus COVID-19 has required them to cancel a main fund raising event (their annual golf tournament). We are urging our friends and partners to give a little bit so they can get by during this trying time.

 

Donate Here

 

 


 

Happy March Birthday to our Employees!

Tower Force wishes a Happy February Birthday to these employees!

 

Bogar Guerra, Hiram Guzman, Humberto Perez, Raul Perez, Ruben Rios, Addie Guillory, Alberto Rios Jr., Guadalupe Torres, Jonathon Mack, Alejandro Ruiz, Gabriel Larios, Alexis Lobo, Cesar Cano, Miguel Hurtado, Erasmo Samchez, Oscar Medina, Reymundo Armendariz, Mauricio Garza, Frank Fernandez III, Hansel Mayora, Cesar Guzman, Jose Galvan II, Armando Pena, Alex Villareal, Rolando Huerta, Marisol Martinez, Juan Perez, Ellier Guzman, Francisco Avilla Sr., Pedro Cortes, Enrique Molina, Manuel Martinez, Francisco Garza, Abraham Newman, Martin Silerio Jr., Marco Bravo, Kyle McNights, Raul Mireles, Riley Hulsey, Madhavakurup Nair, Steven Alvarez

 

If you see them on a jobsite please wish them a Happy Birthday!

 


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Tower Force message on 2020 Coronavirus – COVID-19


 

To All of our employees and clients,

As the spread of COVID-19 continues to escalate in our country, we wanted to share an update on the steps Tower Force has taken to respond to the uncertainties posed by the coronavirus and serve the needs of our clients and employees.

The safety and health of our employees and clients is of utmost importance during this time. As such, we have invoked our pandemic policy and plan, which allows Tower Force employees to work safely, yet effectively, from remote locations and enables our field personnel to coordinate with our clients on ongoing work.

While no one can accurately predict the longevity of this pandemic or its ultimate economic impact, Tower Force will continue to do its part to keep employees safe and fulfill its commitments to our valued clients. We remain open for business.

Tower Force will keep you informed of any changes that specifically affect our organization. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team members below with questions.

We wish everyone safety and good health.

 

To view our pandemic policy and plan click here.

To visit the CDC website go to: cdc.gov

 

Sincerely,

Tower Force, LLC

The Pressure Vessel Specialists

281-506-7152

Imagine failing a turnaround before it’s even begun

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Imagine failing a turnaround before it’s even begun

Yes, it does sound crazy, doesn’t it? Yet that is exactly what scientist/writer Gary Klein recommends. I think it’s worth a try. Read on and then tell me what you think.

We all know what a postmortem examination is. In a criminal investigation, an autopsy is performed because the victim’s body will most likely hold clues to the cause of death or who did it. Postmortem exams on family members can also help us better understand some diseases and genetic tendencies and provide insights for possible cures for future generations.

On projects like turnarounds, we have postmortem exams, too. Accounting is a postmortem event. It tells us whether or not we came in on budget or how much we went over budget. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes and take the lessons forward, which works well in theory but is not done often enough in the real world. It should be done after each project so that we can take our lessons learned forward. It’s also important to make a habit of post-project evaluation and for supervisors and managers to share information. This helps to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

But what Klein is suggesting is that those who are about to be involved in a big project should imagine it has already occurred. He calls the method a premortem (as opposed to a postmortem) exam. His theory is that having participants ask “what might go wrong” before the project begins, rather than “what went wrong” after the project is completed, will provide helpful insights, strategies and better management opportunities.

Poppycock or ‘right on’?

Right about now, you may be saying, “Whitney, that’s just more psycho-babble,” or “Whitney, that’s just poppycock and you know it.” No, I think this method may have merit, and some research concurs. According to the Harvard Business Review, a study conducted in 1989 by three researchers found that “prospective hindsight — imagining an event that has already occurred — increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30 percent.”

Think about it: Many athletes use visualization techniques to train. When an athlete’s mind recalls the desired outcome or skill repeatedly, a sort of “mental rehearsal” occurs, confidence improves and, when the match finally occurs, the athlete’s mind and body are both ready.

With so many athletes reporting how visualization has aided their performance, it was only natural businesses began to use visualization to help build higher-performing teams. Today, there are companies that facilitate this training. One such company is named Winning Mind and has the tagline “Performance Under Pressure.” This company provides performance-coaching services for the military, sports and business.

Klein’s twist of visualization is different, however. It is his suggestion that, instead of visualizing a smooth and ideal project, you visualize a project’s abject failure and learn from that. He says everyone on the team should “independently write down every reason they can think of for the failure — especially the kinds of things they ordinarily wouldn’t mention as potential problems for fear of being impolitic.” He cites several instances where his method was tried and helped prevent colossal failures.

A different kind of risk analysis

You already do risk analysis prior to a turnaround, but Klein says his premortem approach offers benefits that other methods don’t. He says his method doesn’t just help teams identify potential problems early on, but also reduces the kind of “damn the torpedoes” attitude often assumed by people who are overinvested in a project. He also concludes that, by describing weaknesses no one else has mentioned, team members feel more valued.

Klein’s method may not be something you want to use, but it is my belief those of us involved in pressure-cooker projects that are as important and costly as turnarounds should always be looking for new ways to build better teams and improve our performance, so we never have to look back on a failed project.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC magazine.

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Healthy companies have long-term vision

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Healthy companies have long-term vision

Two of the most important things a businessman can have are vision and the ability to communicate that vision. We’ve seen what happens to companies that simply react to market trends and temporary whims. An old proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

People will follow if they know the reasoning behind the corporate vision. They need to know which markets you intend to dominate and why. Don’t just assume everyone knows that customer satisfaction is important unless you are constantly stressing why customer service is vitally important to the company’s growth (and to their own job’s future) and how everyone plays a role in the process.

Let employees know you want to create a good place to work. Tell them what is expected and what is not tolerated. And it is equally important that employees are empowered. We all want to feel important. People need to know they are helping row the boat. Tap into people’s competitive nature. We all like to be on a winning team, regardless of who actually made the game’s winning goal. Stakeholders like to feel like part of the team, too (stakeholders such as suppliers). They like to share in your success as well, much like a city or a college roots for their team and celebrates each win.

Don’t keep your vision a secret. Those providing equipment or services alongside you need to know your expectations, requirements and plan of action so they can continue supplying you with exactly what you need in the way that you need it, when you need it. Employees and stakeholders alike must be aligned with your company’s core values and vision. It is this shared vision that compels people to do something, change something or become something.

Here, in a nutshell, is what leadership with vision is and is not:

The vision must inspire, motivate and have strategic alignment. If the vision is blurred, people don’t know what leadership is trying to achieve, especially if it changes as often as the local diner’s “soup of the day.” People can’t “buy in” to what they don’t know.

Leaders/managers/supervisors must have good leadership skills and encourage idea/knowledge management. When leadership skills are lacking, companies are either micro-managed or too hands-off. Often, there is no leadership development program especially when leaders feel they are irreplaceable. Ideas and knowledge are guarded rather than shared and are often discouraged by “know-it-all” management.

The workplace is a nurturing environment where good work and creativity are recognized and rewarded. Poor leadership discourages rather than encourages, creating a culture of blame rather than focusing on solutions. Eventually, workers lose confidence in leadership and become resentful.

Organization has a smooth flow so bureaucracy is minimized and allows for fast decision making. Poorly run businesses are too bureaucratic and everything (and everyone) is overly scrutinized. Creative thinking is not tolerated, while bureaucracy is encouraged. Decision making must pass through many layers. Employees become defensive and disengaged.

Well-managed companies are transparent. When communication fails to flow from the top down and vice versa, uncertainty follows. No one knows what’s coming next because the rules may change midgame.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

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Safety: Let’s practice what we preach

 

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Safety: Let’s practice what we preach

When you’re selecting a contractor to execute your turnaround or project, it is important to look at its attitude toward safety. Certainly, every project has its priorities, such as safety, quality, schedule and budget. But when safety is done right, the other three priorities quickly fall in line. If clients and contractors truly made safety the very top priority, they would see a significant improvement overall in their turnarounds. Much like sales is the driving force for companies, safety should be the driving force for all projects. Making safety a driving force ensures quality, which requires planning, which develops the schedule, which controls the budget. In the end, all the categories of a successful turnaround win when safety is put as the top priority.

When it comes to safety, there are three different kinds of companies. There are those that constantly preach safety and have a strong safety culture and the necessary safety programs in place to back up what they preach. There are other companies that preach safety but do not have the culture and programs in place to back up what it is they say. In other words, they don’t practice what they preach. Then, sadly, there are companies that are not concerned about safety at all because they are completely cost and schedule driven.

Execution contractors and subcontractors perform only as well as their clients. This is patently evident when it comes to safety. Plant owners who both preach and practice safety are a joy to work for and with. This applies to management and craft alike. Plant owners who fall into this category of preaching and practicing safety actually “lift” contractors up to their standards. Not only are the contractors “lifted up” to high standards, but they can take the lessons learned with them and apply those lessons to other clients’ projects — those clients that may not be so enlightened.

Those clients who fall into the second category of talking a good safety game but not practicing what they preach are the most dangerous to work for because the contractor does not know what to expect. The client preaches safety in all the documents and meetings, but things change when it comes time to actually execute the job. In these instances, there is often a disconnect between management and the field representatives. For many companies, if not all are on the safety bandwagon, the programs and processes put in place cannot work. The plant management may be in denial or have no knowledge of the fact that the safety program they think they have in place has been lost somewhere down the channels and is not making it into the field where the work is being executed. A good example of this type of safety culture is when owners keep contractors in the plant even though they are having major safety incidents. What message does this send to the contractors? And what message does this send to the craftspeople? It clearly says, “We tell you to be safe and careful while working in our plant so that we don’t have any incidents, but we really don’t care about your safety when there is a major safety incident.”

The third type of company, the one that is only motivated by cost and schedule, needs to be carefully evaluated as early as the bid process. This company puts contractors and/or owners in a “crapshoot” position. They may complete the job on budget and on schedule but, through its disregard for safety, this company could end up costing owners or the contractor “big time” through safety violations and incidents.

The solution is not an easy one, but we, as contractors, must nurture our own safety cultures and not rely on our clients. In every instance, we must empower our personnel to adhere to a higher safety standard even if our own standards are higher than those of our clients in some instances. It’s true that overall, our industry has become better at promoting a safe work environment than ever before in its history, but we can still do better. I believe all accidents are preventable and until we all get to that attitude, we need to watch ourselves and not rely on our clients to do it for us.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

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The Key To A Successful Business: Hire Great People

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


The Key To A Successful Business: Hire Great People

The single most important factor in running a great business is having the right people in the right places. The first thing needed to run a successful business is hiring great people. I want to give a few characteristics that Tower Force looks for during the hiring process.

Whitney Strickland, VP of Sales, Tower Force
  •  Integrity: Plain and simple, integrity is being able to tell the truth in a timely manner. The person is able to address his or her mistakes immediately, so they can then be resolved quickly. This person follows the rules no matter what someone else may be doing. He or she is able to stay on the high road, although others may be gaining unfair advantages by doing things the wrong way. Determining whether or not a candidate has this integrity can be a different problem. A good way to measure a person’s integrity is by knowing his or her past or finding someone who knows that person’s past. Sometimes you can know the person has integrity by his or her manner and your own gut feelings about the person. Being able to tell if someone has integrity is a skill that is developed over many years of hiring people.
  • Intelligence: My own definition of intelligence does not include a college degree or certificate from a fancy university. I learned more as a boilermaker working in the field than in any college course I could have taken. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met were working beside me as a craftsperson or foreman in the field. Although intelligence is important in selecting great people, it should not be the foremost determining factor.
  • Positive attitude: One of my practices around the office and in the field is something I learned from a seminar with Ed Foreman. It is based on 12 principles of positive thinking. The principle I use most is “terrific day.” When someone asks you how you’re doing, you should always respond with a resounding “terrific!” — no matter how you may think the day is going. Hiring personnel who have positive attitudes and surrounding them with others who have positive attitudes creates a positive atmosphere. This positive attitude is only part of the equation. The ability to energize others with a positive attitude should also be a criterion.
  • Organization: Being organized is a definite criterion for a great employee. Organized people can do more with fewer mistakes, which saves time and money, but it can be hard to tell if someone is organized during the interview process. Usually, candidates are dressed properly and groomed neatly, so they may look good in the moment, but do they really live that way? One of my tricks for a potential employee is to set up the interview just before lunch. Then, at lunchtime, I ask the person to take me to lunch in his or her car. It is very easy to tell how organized someone is when you hop in the person’s vehicle.
  • Resilience: Last but not least, resilience is the ability to pick yourself back up after a mistake and learn from those mistakes. The ability not only to learn from the mistakes but also be able to regroup with positive energy and a good attitude is a trademark of resilience. Look for personnel who have had tough experiences in their lives and have overcome obstacles, which is a good indicator for resilience. The personnel who have this trait of resilience can make for great leaders within the company in the future.

These are just a few traits to look for if you want to hire great people for your company. The real trick to acquiring great people is to already have great leaders who hire those personnel.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

 

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Consistency in service is key to success

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Consistency in service is key to success

 I recently participated in an out-of-town golf outing. There was a hotel near the golf course that was part of a well-known hotel chain that I know to be reasonably priced with attractive and clean rooms. Many of the hotels within the chain are run by independent operators, as was this one. The exterior of the hotel was consistent with that of others in the chain. But, to my chagrin, that was where the similarity ended.

The room they assigned to me had worn furniture. The air conditioner sounded like a train coming through the walls; it had rust spots and was dusty. The bathroom tile had been patched and was not squeaky clean. The walls above the beds had holes for pictures, but no pictures. It was too late to move to another hotel, so I spent the night. The next morning, I arose and was looking forward to my complimentary continental breakfast, but it was not ready. All I wanted was coffee, juice and a roll. How difficult could that be? A rude server told me that breakfast might be ready in an hour or so.

Either this hotel was in violation of the chain’s standards, or there was no corporate oversight or basic rules for the operator to follow. One of the main things a hotel chain has to sell is its consistency. The name or brand depends upon it. It was baffling to me why the corporation allowed this operator to undermine or blemish its name, especially when it had spent millions or billions of dollars to promote the name as being equivalent with cleanliness, efficiency, friendliness and moderate price. This made me think about how important consistency is to a business, especially to a service business like Tower Force.

When a company is running many projects all over the country with several different project managers, it is a difficult job to maintain consistency of quality and safety at each project. The typical project manager is a master of control. Project managers do not like to be told what to do and can create “little fiefdoms” if there is not some sort of corporate oversight or cohesiveness. When these “little fiefdoms” are allowed to flourish, it can hurt your overall business. One project manager may be busy and not available to service a repeat client, so the company has to assign the job to another project manager. If the service is good, bad or even just different, the client can be disappointed, which reflects badly on the company as a whole.

Fixing the “fiefdom”

At our company, we strive to let our project managers have as much control as possible, while also following the guidelines for quality, safety and project controls we have created during our 30-plus years of existence. Our project managers have an interest in the entire company’s success, not just in the success of the projects they run. Our incentives are set up that way. We also involve our corporate managers in each project. This does two things: First, it presents a consistent face to the customer. Second, it ensures consistency in project execution that is consistent with our standards of quality and safety.

Constant communication is key

Our company routinely uses various forms of communication with our employees and management. Weekly staff meetings, emails, social media posts and even old-fashioned phone calls are all used. The message and vision need to be consistent in every form of communication.

It is important the corporate message be consistent at all levels, including in-house communications as well as those with customers and suppliers. As companies grow, as ours has grown, consistency becomes even more important. New employees must be aware of our core values so their actions and business decisions are also consistent with our core values. All communication, including business papers, signage and advertising, should also be consistent in format, typestyle, color, etc.

Consistent service is key to a company’s longevity, and a consistent image helps reflect the fact the left-hand knows what the right is doing.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at  (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

 

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Manpower Woes And Rising Costs: We’re All In It Together

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Manpower Woes And Rising Costs: We’re All In It Together

Whitney Strickland, VP of Sales, Tower Force

I recently paid a labor rate of $130 per hour at my local Ford dealership. As I paid the invoice, I was thinking about how much more difficult and demanding our kind of work is than that of an auto mechanic.

A broad skill set is needed by industrial workers like tray mechanics, yet their billing rates are not even half of my local auto mechanic! Currently, and for the foreseeable future, our industry needs to realize all labor rates must be variable. I’m not just talking about the base wage rate, even though that’s the biggest increasing cost for us contractors. I’m also talking about all the other costs contractors are encountering, such as expensive transportation costs, high material costs and dramatic rises in insurance rates.

Good contractors limit economic risks. I’ve been warning plant owners about this problem for a year or more, yet I still encounter decision-makers who don’t believe there’s a problem and want to do business as usual. They don’t take into account that good contractors don’t have to (and shouldn’t) take any economic risks in today’s business climate. Contracts with “risk factors” will be considered unattractive to good contractors. Contracts with “risk factors” include a lump sum, not-to-exceed and other contracts with so-called “incentives” that can often work against the contractor.

Good contractors don’t cut corners or get greedy. Good contractors won’t cut corners to meet a lump sum or not-to-exceed contract because they know their quality and safety records are at stake. Good contractors don’t get greedy when times are good because that will come back to haunt them when the amount of work trends downward.

Consider the skilled labor shortage. You can’t pick up a business magazine or newspaper without seeing an article about the “lack of manpower.” I even read an article that talked about the lack of skilled manpower in India, a population of over 1 billion people!

The lack of talented or skilled manpower is affecting many countries and industries including the rail, mining, drilling, chemical, welding, textile, IT, biotech, healthcare and even the animated film industry.

Stick to core competencies. Many general contractors want to be a one-stop-shop. Now is the time for good contractors to stick with their core competencies and utilize specialty contractors where their manpower may not be as efficient. There is currently plenty of work, and reputations can be enhanced or eroded. That’s why good contractors are sticking with what they know: their core competencies.

When contractors have a work backlog, it allows them to attract and retain highly skilled managers and personnel.

Starting earlier saves owners money. Some of our more innovative customers are now booking contractors for their projects a year or more in advance. This is a win-win for both contractors and customers. When contractors have a work backlog, it allows them to attract and retain highly skilled managers and personnel.

When owners work with the contractors earlier, they can have the supervisors perform planning and construct-ability studies to find more efficient ways to execute the project. This can save the owner time and money when the project is in execution mode.

Work to understand one another’s conundrums. There is tremendous pressure on owners to meet market demands and many regulations. But it also helps if decision-makers within the refineries understand contractors have problems. It is more imperative than ever to be understanding and thoughtful of one another’s changing business needs. We are in this together: labor woes, rising costs, increased market demands and all.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at  (281) 506-7152 or email wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

 

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Incentives Don’t Always Produce The Best Work

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Incentives Don’t Always Produce The Best Work

 

During visits with clients, I’m almost assuredly asked about the kinds of safety or performance incentives we have for our employees. My answer is that, besides offering a good wage and great medical and dental programs, we hire true craftsmen. It’s our assertion that a craftsperson’s biggest incentive is to work for us on the next project. We believe working productively and safely is already a part of their skillsets. Our employees want to do a good job.

Whitney Strickland - Tower Force
Whitney Strickland, VP of Sales, Tower Force

Like many in our industry, we have tried using safety incentives. We have found these incentives don’t always work as positive reinforcement. While well intended, they often create the opposite effect.

Many contractors offer incentives such as a dollar extra per hour if the project is completed safely. It sounds like a good idea, but if there’s so much as a single incident, employees don’t receive the incentive. The promise is made in good faith, but human nature is what it is and there’s surely disappointment on everyone’s part. It’s as though something wonderful is promised and then taken away. Of course, the bonus is ensured only if the project was successfully completed, but people tend to forget that part of the equation.

We’ve also found “performance reviews” don’t always work as planned. In fact, they add stress and fail to take into account individual differences and talents. It’s kind of like management is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Human behaviorist Alfie Kohn said, “At least two dozen studies over the last three decades have conclusively shown that people who expect to receive a reward for completing a task or for doing that task successfully simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all.”

Ask yourself this question: “Why would management want to hurt morale?” Obviously, a good management team wants to encourage teamwork and have happy, productive workers. Yet, many companies buy into these evaluation processes. The fact is most people think they’re doing a good job (whether they are or not).

For those performing at the top of their game, why would you give a review that’s structured in such a way it’s impossible to get a perfect score? The truly productive among us will be disillusioned and may even want to go work for a competitor.

Our business is based on a collaborative team effort. When performing turnarounds, it’s imperative everyone contributes to the project’s success. Let’s say one person on the team gets a good review and another doesn’t; what does that do to the team?

We’ve also found most evaluation processes interrupt the flow of business and are difficult to implement in a fair and practical way. We’ve chosen instead to have a very simple evaluation of workers by their supervisors. This system simply points out the skills they need to improve. Rather than offering only all criticism, it also points out those skills/areas in which the supervisor feels the craftsperson is performing well.

We contend it’s better to mentor and nurture those who have the potential, qualities and skills we need. We believe demonstrating through doing and offering praise when a task is well executed is the best form of “incentive” because this means you’ll be called back on the next project and possibly have a lifetime career within our organization.

We’re not alone in our contention. John Labbe of JEM Performance Consulting lays it out in no uncertain terms. He also paraphrases Fredrick Herzberg, who was a pioneer in the study of human performance. “If you want people motivated to do a good job, give them a good job to do,” Herzberg said. Labbe adds to Herzberg’s statement by saying it takes two steps to give people a good job. The first is “to provide longterm incentives that are tied directly to the company philosophy.” The second is “to give everyone a stake in the success of the business.”

Our philosophy is pretty much as Labbe and Herzberg described. When we succeed by being knowledgeable, skilled, innovative, productive and working safely, everyone wins. Everyone, including our clients, has “skin in the game.” The mutual reward is a success.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

 

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The Turnaround Season Requires Healthy Living


The Turnaround Season Requires Healthy Living

Turnaround season is in our midst, and it seems like light years since we were in vacation mode, enjoying time outdoors with our family and friends. But rest and relaxation (R&R) is a good thing, and doctors have declared it is essential to good mental health. Unfortunately, now is not the time for R&R, as we are in peak turnaround season instead. Therefore, now is the time to think about changing some not-so-healthy habits so we can be in better shape for the next vacation and able to enjoy it with family and friends.

I’m not a health nut or a nutritionist, but I have made a conscious effort to change some old habits to healthier new ones. The other day, I was thinking about my time in the field. My routine during turnaround season was deplorable, but I was young and thought I was immune from any repercussions.

The way it was

I’d jump out of bed when the alarm sounded at 4 a.m. Then, I would hurriedly get ready, run out the door and hightail it to the nearest Jack in the Box. I’d order an ultimate cheeseburger with curly fries and an extra-large soda. By the time I ate and drank all of this (while driving), it was approximately 5 a.m. I still had plenty of time to have a few smokes before reaching the plant gate at 5:30 a.m.

Lunch was a luxury, so most times I would grab a few of the remaining donuts in the turnaround trailer. The only good habit I had then was working hard. I took pride in my job and felt a duty to my co-workers to do the best I could.

I would roll away from the plant at approximately 7:30 p.m. I didn’t need to worry about dinner right away because a few beers with the guys would fill me up temporarily. I’d hit the sack about 11 p.m., and first thing you know, the alarm would sound the beginning of another day.

Don’t do as I did

If this is your pattern during turnarounds or if your daily pattern is even close to what mine was, please stop! A healthy and balanced diet with regular eating times is one of the best things a person can do for his or her body and mind. The way I treated my body back then has resulted in high cholesterol, and there may be more health problems in my future.

The magic trio: Mind, body and spirit

There’s a lot of talk about having a healthy mind, body and spirit, and I think it’s very true. Having a clear mind throughout the turnaround (and throughout every day) helps us to stay focused and accomplish more.

When we take care of our bodies, it also helps clear our minds. About 20 minutes of weight training three times a week is all some experts say we need. It helps our metabolism and helps us lose weight. It feeds oxygen to our blood, which travels to our brain and vital organs and throughout our bodies.

Spirit is probably the most important thing in most people’s lives. Spirit is not about any particular religion, although people use religion to reach the spirit. Spirit is about a feeling of well-being and believing in something greater than ourselves. I have been pleased to find that at the close of many morning safety meetings, a designated member of supervision will say a prayer for himself and all the workers. This invites the spirit to join us throughout the workday, and it can be the third cog in having a healthy life and turnaround season.

Having good and regular sleep habits will help our bodies, minds and spirits, too.

Good life or good times?

We are living longer today than any generation before us. I know I want to live a long life — provided I’m healthy, too.

I once thought I was living the good life. I’m glad I finally realized I was not going to be forever young and indestructible. Now that I’ve changed my habits, I know that good times are far more enjoyable when I’m alert and healthy. Now that I have children, I also see the importance of setting a good example for them.

When we treat our bodies well with proper nutrients, sleep and exercise, our brains are more alert, and we can work more safely. When we also believe in something bigger than ourselves, we are happier and more at peace.

Have a great turnaround season, and stay well.

For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or wstrickland@towerforce.com.

Also published in BIC Magazine.

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