Did you know that Trimble and Reggae Music have a commonality? Probably not if you’ve never met Chris Hahn. He is Omega’s Project Manager (PM) of the Month because of his exceptional skills in his current position of Layout and Design Solutions Specialist. Lee Zirk, our team leader, has nothing but good things to say about Chris: “first and foremost Chris is a good person, he gets along with everyone in the office, our clients, subtrades, and suppliers that deal with him on a daily basis”. Chris’ biggest strength stems from his training as a plumber by trade and how he became tech savvy. “His layout and canning plan skills are second to none,” according to Lee. Chris’ role encompasses creating CAD drawings using Trimble to create the real life piping layout.
We asked Chris to share some words of wisdom that guide him in his career development: What is the best advice you ever got during your apprenticeship?
- “My grandfather (who is 95 this year) was a long time plumber, and he got me my first plumbing job back in the summer of 2005. The best thing he taught me was the importance of hard work. He constantly told me, “Son, if you’re the hardest worker, you’ll be the last one laid off.” It seems like common sense really, but it has had a profound impact on how I look at work. He grew up in the great depression, so he knew the importance of working hard. If he didn’t work hard, his family literally wouldn’t eat.”
What advice would you give to someone considering plumbing as a career?
- Before I started plumbing, I was going to college studying graphic design. During summer break my grandfather got me a job as a plumber’s helper. By the end of the summer they saw potential in me to become a journeyman one day. My employer at the time offered me a raise so that I might stay on with my apprenticeship instead of going back to college. I then asked my grandfather what his thoughts were and he said, “every kid on the block knows ‘computers,’ but if you become a plumber, you’ll always have work.” As a result I never went back to graphic design college, and I can say that gramps was right, plumbing has been a great career for me. For those considering a career in plumbing, I would suggest considering the following:
- You need to be open to the idea of becoming a leader. Once you become a journeyman (and likely even before then), you will be required to teach, guide, and keep the apprentices on task. You don’t necessarily have to be a leader, but in my experience those that are the most successful in the plumbing field are excellent coaches. In addition to being a leader, you need to have ‘drive’ to be successful in this industry. I never met a foreman who didn’t have drive, and it’s no coincidence they are so successful.
- Work ethic is king. I’d rather hire a hard worker that has less experience than someone with more experience who only does the bare minimum. There is no shortage of plumbing jobs in the lower mainland, with towers going up everywhere! So it goes without saying that you’ll always have a job, if you are a good worker.
What do you think was your biggest strength as a Project Manager?
- One of my strengths as a PM is the way I deal with people. I believe being nice to people goes a long way, especially since the types of jobs I’m working on are 12 to 18 month projects, meaning I have a great opportunity to build a strong relationship with my clients! Another strength I have is the ability to do mechanical layout in AutoCAD. I get to use my 12 years of experience in plumbing, along with my computer skills (take that grandpa!), to make detailed plumbing layout and utilize our Trimble Robotic Total Stations. We currently have two Trimble RTS’s and we are one of the leaders in the industry here in Canada who utilizes this technology. I get pumped about using new technologies and integrating it with our mechanical systems. I’m fortunate to work with such a great company that is tech-savvy and is interested in looking for ways to make the industry better.
Now you may have wondered how reggae music fits in with all this? Well in addition to building his AutoCAD chops, Chris has been producing reggae music for about 8 years now. He told us, “I do a lot of collaborations with different artists in Hawaii, and a few of our songs have gotten on local radio out there. I usually make all of the music and the vocalist sends me his acapella to mix.” Check some of his track out online here: DubMaster Kahn