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

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

Also published in BIC Magazine.

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A Key To Success: Knowing You Don’t Know

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


A Key To Success: Knowing You Don’t Know


Whitney Strickland - Tower Force
By Whitney Strickland, VP Of Sales, Tower Force


I have a friend who would often say, “I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but…” and then something profound — usually a simple fact that the smartest people in the room had overlooked.

This fellow had labored inside refineries most o f his life. He worked hard and began getting promotions. He started reading everything he could get his hands on about management and business. He joined groups to share information and gain a better understanding of the marketplace. During this process, he learned a lot about himself, and he worked to correct unhealthy personal habits as he moved forward in both his personal and business life. He cultivated friendships with successful people and learned from them. He eventually became a business owner, and weathered the downturns and prospered during the upturns before retiring comfortably. The key to his success, I believe, was that he knew he didn’t know.

A know-it-all

When I was in my twenties, I thought I knew it all. I worked at various jobs while in college, then got married and started a family. Then my marriage failed, and I became nearly destitute. I found myself living alone in a motel room, and my driver’s license had been suspended. I had a broken-down truck that barely got me to and from work, and the only money I had was what I hoped to get that next payday. I was nearly homeless, hopeless and helpless, but I still wouldn’t admit that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

One day, when I was at rock bottom, I finally admitted to myself that the only way out was to alter my lifestyle and way of thinking. For me, this was a revelation. I realized I had to surround myself with people who could guide me out of a broken pattern.

I looked around and saw, for the first time, that I knew a number of people who were successful in one way or another — be it in their relationships, careers or personal achievements. I also saw these people had a tendency to be generous. They were generous with their time and in their willingness to help others. I decided I needed to tap into the success that surrounded me rather than flounder on my own. I needed to know that I didn’t know, and there were some people “in the know” who could help me.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness

I had to let go of my “I can do it myself ” attitude and learn that asking for help is a way to grow. I also realized that “outsiders” offer a different perspective than close family and friends. A mentor’s advice can guide and motivate you as they share what they learned from setbacks and successes. They are not afraid to “hurt your feelings” and challenge you. Mentors remember what it was like to start an endeavor. Good mentors also have a circle of friends who are equally successful. They can provide introductions and opportunities you can seldom find on your own.

Listening and learning has paid off

Now that I am in my fifties, I look back at the road I was once on. It’s painful to remember how I got there, but I am most grateful for those who helped me get on the right track. I could say I did it all myself, but that would be a terrible lie. There are many people who set good examples for me to follow and provided a road map that led me to achieve successful personal relationships and business ventures.

If I can leave one piece of advice for everyone who reads this, it would be to find yourself a mentor — or two or three. These are people whom you admire, with characteristics you would like to emulate. Surround yourself with like-minded friends who want to succeed. Rid yourself of those who are satisfied with just getting by and want to discredit others who get promoted or are successful in one way or another. Those people will wear and tear you down. Instead, get around successful people who are not braggadocios, arrogant or boastful. These people should be comfortable in their own skin and grateful for who and what they have in their lives. Be around those who know they don’t know but are more than willing to find out.

Also published in BIC Magazine.


Call or email today to see how we can help with your next shutdown/turnaround/regularly scheduled (or emergency) maintenance projects! 

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Tower Force Times – Vol 14 – Pressure Vessel Tray Installation Services

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists


Tower Force tray installation services keep clients going!

Pressure Vessel Specialty Internals Installation

Why choose a specialty internals installer for your pressure vessel or reactor?


Pressure Vessels and Reactors have critical components in them that must be installed correctly otherwise the process may not run correctly creating losses for your facility. The crews and management at Tower Force focus specifically on the expertise of installing internals and performing tower field services in the petrochemical and refining industry. Many of our crew are second and third generation tray mechanics. This knowledge is recognized by our technology partners and current clients making Tower Force the chosen contractor for these types of projects.



Vessel Tower Tray # 20 - Towerforce Means Quality


Tower Force quality goes beyond measure


Each project that the Tower Force crews embark on has extensive planning for that specific job. These plans include how the quality of our installations will be verified for ourselves and the client. Utilizing a digital record can be one of the best ways for our installations to be confirmed at the most cost effective and timely manner. Using photographs or real time video can reduce the amount of time inspectors need to be available for any sign offs. Then after the project is complete the operations and client management team can have that record for any future work that may be done on the vessel.



Tower Force - Reactor Specialists

Happy February Birthday to our Employees!

Tower Force wishes a Happy February Birthday to these employees!

Joan Perez, Francisco Avila Jr, Danny Hernandez, Graham Vedier, Jesus Contreras, Herminio Garza, Jaime Martinez Jr, Justin Gonzalez, Eulalio Guillen Jr, Jon Escobar, Robert Sherman, Julian Navejar Guerrero Gerardo, Aimed Benzid, Israel Verdin, Randy Camacho, Angel Hernandez Jr, Mychael Lopez, Brit Wooten, Alberto Martinez Garcia, Francisco Ramirez, Manuel Lazo Jr, Rodolfo Alaniz, Ramon Dianas, Enrique Martinez Jr, Gregory Maldonado, Jaime Perez, Adolfo Benitez Javier Ramos, Juan Alvarado, Gerardo Chavez, Raul Oganfdo, Jose Vega, Alcides Guajardo, Sergio Perez, Jose Perez, Bladimir Reyes, Darlene Smith, Jose Gutierrez, Rafael Fernandez, Eleno Trevino, Juan Robles, Richard Valenzuela, Edy Cantu, Neil Scott, Jose Morales, Amador Martinez


If you see them on a job site please wish them a Happy Birthday!


Call or email today to see how we can help with your next shutdown/turnaround/regularly scheduled (or emergency) maintenance projects! 

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Tower Force Times – Vol 13 – Industrial Turnaround Service Thanks – Fight For The Wheelhouse!

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

Tower Force’s LatAm affiliate receives congrats letter from Nutrien

Industrial Turnaround Services - Pressure Vessel Repair

Our Tower Force LatAm affiliate, Alliance Industrial Turnaround Services (AITS), received a letter of thank you for a job well done at the Nutrien Point Lisas Trinidad site. This project was headed up by David Gamez, President of AITS.
His team was thanked for their quality, technical expertise and their ability to understand the priorities this vessel repair required.
This project was a turnaround that encompassed several towers where the installation of components was required as well as repair to the vessels. Congratulations to the entire Tower Force/ Alliance Industrial Turnaround Services team that performed the work on this project!



Tower Force


Tower Force Fight to benefit The Wheelhouse

Our very own Whitney Strickland, VP of Sales at Tower Force, is going to be participating in a boxing match to benefit The Wheelhouse. The event is scheduled for noon February 1st at Fighter Nation Gym. The winner of the event will get $1000 donated to his specific charity and the proceeds from tickets will be distributed to the charities. Tickets are $30 and include a BBQ lunch provided by The Wheelhouse.
To buy tickets:




Tower Force


 Happy Birthday to our Employees!


Tower Force wishes a Happy January Birthday to these employees!
Jose Chapa, David Roden, Juan Gamez, Francisco Garcia, Jose Hernandez, Donald Lockett, Hernan Gomez, Omar Arredando, Hector Castillo, Jesus Gonzalez, Efrain Cuellar, Apolonia Ruiz, Raul Flores, Rogelio Hernandez Jr., Thomas Drew, Donald Carter, Jose Garcia and Manual Zapata Jr.
If you see them on a jobsite please wish them a Happy Birthday!



Tower Force Times – Vol 12 – Tower Internals Hardware -Thanksgiving!!

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

Happy Thanksgiving from Tower Force!!

Here are some Thanksgiving Safety tips!

  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen, and know how to use it.
  • Ensure your smoke alarms are connected and working.
  • Unplug appliances that are small and unnecessary; it’s a smart way to save energy and eliminate potential dangers if something is accidentally turned on.
  • After the party, walk around the home and ensure candles and fireplaces are extinguished, unnecessary appliances are turned off, and no potential hazards (leftovers, sharp/flammable objects) are in reach of your kids or pets.
  • Never leave your food unattended while frying or grilling.
  • Use a timer and routinely check whatever you’re cooking.
  • If frying or deep-frying, keep the fryer outside, away from walls, and free from moisture.
  • Never use a glass casserole or lid on the stove or burner, as it may explode from the heat.
  • Ensure that pot holders and food wrappers are a safe distance— at least 3 feet!—from warmed surfaces (i.e. the stove). Position those handles so that they face inward.
  • Avoid dangling accessories or loose clothes around kitchen fires.
  • Avoid dangling accessories or loose clothes around kitchen fires.
  • If using candles or the fireplace, keep these sources of fire shuttered or isolated, and never leave them unattended.
  • Never douse a grease fire with water, as the fire can thus spread. Turn off the burner, smother the flames with a lid (wearing an oven mitt!), or douse with baking soda or a fire extinguisher if it’s getting out of hand.

Identifying tower internals hardware

Tower three piece ballast unit
Three Piece Ballast Unit
Tower seal plate
Seal Plate
Tower Football washer 316l
Football Washer 316L
Tower Slide fastner 304l
Slide Fastener 304L






Tower Universal Clamp 316L
Universal Clamp 316L



Tower nutter bpd valve 316l
Nutter BPD Valve 316L


The Tower Force supervisors and crews can install literally tens of thousands of tower internals hardware parts within a year. Knowing which parts go where and what material the parts are can be critical to the function of the vessel’s process. From the shape of the hardware to identifying what the stamped numbers mean on them our guys do it all day every day to make sure the clients do not have to worry about the wrong parts in their vessel.




Tower Force supports the Boy Scouts

Although it was seriously cold for a Texas morning the guys at Tower Force showed up in support of the Boy Scouts Bay Area Council annual golf tournament. This golf tournament is very well attended by those in the refining and petrochemical industry in the Houston- Galveston area. The event raised over $100,000 for the Scouts.

or more information go to: Scouts Honor Golf Tournament



Don’t Forget to Contact Us or Request A Quote if you have any question! 


Tower Force Times – Vol 11 – 5 year ZERO TRIR – Structured Packing?

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

Tower Force celebrates ZERO TRIR for 5 years running

Tower Force was created by Mr. Keith Hurst in 2014. Mr. Hurst who had already been successful in business started Tower Force with safety first in mind. He brought his experienced personnel and management with him which has been a huge part of this achievement. The Tower Force goal is zero incidents on every project while maintaining quality and productivity.

Call or Email us today and ask us how we can bring our record of excellence to you! 




Handling structured packing

The installation of structured packing internals can be a tricky task for contractors not familiar with handling this type of product. The main problem areas can be damaging the product and safety of the craftsmen. Tower Force requires a double protection system for each craftsmen handling structured packing. Tower Force also has proprietary installation systems for structured packing tower internals installations


Tower Force supports Wheelhouse Motorcycle Rally

Tower Force supported the recent Wheelhouse Monument Run Motorcycle Rally in Deer Park Texas. The event included nearly 200 riders and 500 plus attendees. Over $125,000 was raised to help The Wheelhouse keep it’s doors open and save men suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. For more information visit:


The turnaround season requires healthy living


Donuts and coffee for breakfast or maybe a soda and burger? This article explains the importance of staying healthy while on the turnaround. A healthy body both mentally and spiritually helps your day go better. To read the full article click here or email him at



Tower Force Times – Vol 10 – Internal Manway Closures

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

 Internal Manway closures


The Tower Force method for internal manway closures ensures that there will be no mistakes during the process and that your tower will be running in optimal condition when we are done. Our supervisors and craftsmen will work with your inspection and/or process engineers to witness each closing and we will make a digital copy of the process for your historical record.



Recent Project In Arizona was Hot


Tower Force wants to thank Noe Reyna and Crew for bearing the hot Arizona heat on a recent project. The heat can get to over 100 degrees on most days especially hot with all the safety gear on. Not only did they handle it but the client sent a nice note:

Thank you so much for your service at our Arizona plant. Despite the extreme heat, you guys did it. I will reach out to you for any future tower works.”



Tower Force wins 2nd in SowDiv Championship


Tower Force Racing came in second place this year in the SCCA Southwest Division Championship. It was a hard fought battle losing the championship by only seven points. Next season’s racing starts in Florida at the Sebring road racing circuit. for more information visit:




Incentives don’t always produce the best work


Do incentives work? This article explores why in many cases incentives are not a motivator for better safety or better work. Instead it may be better to mentor and provide ‘skin in the game’ to help employees be productive. To read the full article click here.

Email him at



Tower Force Times – Vol 9 – Weir Height And Downcomer Clearance Importance!

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

A BBQ benefiting “The Wheelhouse” at Tower Force Sept. 6th

Tower Force will be hosting a BBQ event at our shop at 4804 Railroad in Deer Park on September 6th at 11:30 am. This event is for our employees, alliance partners and clients to attend. The BBQ will be provided by Burnt Offerings BBQ in benefit to The Wheelhouse in Deer Park Texas. Please come out and join us. We look forward to seeing you!

For more information about The Wheelhouse click here


The importance of weir height and downcomer clearance

The importance of a weir is so that up-flowing vapors do not got through the downcomers. They create a liquid seal. That is why the height is critical in installation. The downcomer is interrelated with the weir in that the smaller the clearance between it and the weir creates a more stable tray set up.

If you have any questions, or need any help please don’t hesitate to contact us or request a quote



Tower Force Race Team will be at MSR Houston August 31st

The Tower Force race team is having a successful season being currently first in points for the Southwest Division Championship. The final race will be August 31st at 1:30 pm at the MSR Houston race track in Angleton, Texas.




Manpower woes and rising costs

Mr. Whitney Strickland’s latest article in BIC magazine deals with manpower issues for turnarounds and projects. His article gives some insights on reducing manpower problems by utilizing specialty contractors. To read the full article click here Email him at


Tower Force Times – Vol 8 – We Are Attending MaRs!!

Tower Force - Pressure Vessel Specialists

Tower Force will be at MaRS August 7-9

Tower Force will be in attendance at the upcoming Maintenance and Reliability Symposium. This symposium is hosted by the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. The symposium is to be held at the Galveston Moody Gardens Hotel located in Galveston, TX. There will be a Golf Tournament on Wednesday August 7th at the Moody Gardens Golf Course and then the trade show will be August 8th and 9th from 8am to 5pm. Tower Force will be in booth #10. Please come by and visit us.

For more information visit





Tower Force Race Team will be at MSR Houston August 31st


The Tower Force race team is having a successful season being currently first in points for the Southwest Division Championship. The final race will be August 31st at 1:30 pm at the MSR Houston racetrack in Angleton, Texas.



Keith Hurst turns 60!


Mr. Keith Hurst, President and Founder of Tower Force, is turning 60 this Tuesday July 16th. Mr. Hurst started humbly working at his father’s fabrication shop when he was young learning metallurgy, vessel fabrication and how to manage personnel. He then went to Canatex, a vessel specialty contractor, for many years before starting a company called Tiger Tower which was sold in 2013. He started Tower Force in 2014 and continues the legacy of safe, quality and on schedule projects. Email him a Happy Birthday at