Employee Spotlight

Posted November 17, 2023

At Raymond, we have outstanding employees, so we decided to feature some of them on our blog. We’d like to highlight Paul Steele, Senior Estimator in our Southern California region. Paul has worked in the construction industry for 37 years, and with Raymond for 20. He has a Bachelor of Science in Operations Management, as well as an MBA, from California State University, Long Beach. Paul is active with the National Fireproofing Contractors Association (NFCA) and is certified in Spray Applied Fireproofing and as a Designated Responsible Individual (DRI).

We sat down with Paul to learn more about him and his time at Raymond.

What brought you into the construction industry? I had a brother in the trades, and he was making more money than I was in the grocery stores. I started as an apprentice taper, then became a journeyman, foreman, trade superintendent, and project superintendent before transitioning to the office as a project engineer. From there I worked my way to estimating and project management.

What does a typical day look like for you?  At my screen doing takeoff, building bids, and answering questions from other estimators.

Are you involved in the industry outside of Raymond? I have been involved in the NFCA for 13 years now, since 2010 (Raymond joined the organization in 2007). Our Raymond team has benefited from the organization through education, training and certification programs, and networking. I am proud to have served as NFCA President, Vice President, and am currently a board member and Chairman of the NFCA Technical Codes and Standards Committee.

One of the things I’m excited about are our new electric fireproofing pumps in action at one of our Southern California projects (pictured above). The pumps have zero emissions, are quieter, more reliable, safer, and easier to transport. And they have no trouble matching the production output of the older diesel pumps!

I also represent Raymond on the interior committee of the Technical Services Information Bureau (TSIB), the technical department for the Western Wall and Ceiling Contractors Association (WWCCA).

What do you like most about working in construction? The fact that it never gets boring and there are always interesting challenges.

What have been the most significant changes that you have seen in the industry? In the past, everybody working in the trailers and offices had spent many years working with their tools in the field. Safety has improved significantly. Technology has increased exponentially.

Three words to describe Raymond: Teamwork, quality, reputation.

What has been your favorite project with Raymond and why? Probably the Kaiser West LA project in 2007 because I got to step in as project manager on a failing project and be part of a field team that accomplished the biggest turnaround of any project I have seen in my 37 years.

Are you working on any personal passion projects?  Yes, currently working on putting both my daughters through college and graduate school.

What’s the best thing about your job?  Being able to make concrete contributions that benefit coworkers that I enjoy interacting with on a daily and weekly basis.

What is the most challenging part of your job?  Bid deadlines. Projects have gotten larger and more complex, but deadlines are as short as ever.

How would you describe your career progression? Having started my career as an apprentice in the field in 1986, I have now held some 10 different positions and have a very broad and interesting array of experience in our industry, including three roles with Raymond: Special Projects Estimator/Project Manager, Project Manager, and Estimator/Sr. Estimator.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?  Keep your nose to the grindstone. Get a college degree; it’s something no one can ever take away from you.

What advice do you have for prospective Raymond candidates?  The good is the enemy of the great. If you aspire to work as a manager, get a business degree and/or an MBA.  Don’t just be a boss; be a professional leader.

What do you like doing when you’re not at work? Studying the Bible and evangelism.

Favorite thing to do?  My favorite exercise is refereeing high school soccer games, which I do year-round on weekends.

Have you had any other interesting jobs?  Sure, been working since I was 14: pizza cook, landscaping, gas station, grocery produce, and consumer finance.

When you were a kid, what seemed like the best thing about being a grownup? Mostly noticed that they didn’t seem very happy, so it became my goal to be a happy adult.

What are some things you’ve done that you’re proud of? Humbled myself and turned completely to God.

What meal could you eat every day? Spaghetti

How do you balance your career and your family? By getting enough sleep and healthy living.

What is something most people don’t know about you? Probably that I played drums for many years in cover bands and still have my drum kit. I recently began teaching one of my daughters to play (at her request).

What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve done?  Whatever it was, it probably didn’t turn out well. I’m a planner.

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