Kevin Daniels had to contend with a few obstacles in his quest for a career in construction. But rather than let himself be overcome by discouragement, he says the challenges motivated him all the more.
In spring of 2017, Kevin suffered a broken leg in a dirt bike accident. Later that year, it happened again, in a car accident. He spent much of 2018 recovering from his injuries.
Finally able to return to the workforce the following year, he landed a job with a company that renovates stores for a retail franchise. He wasn’t enamored with it, but he realized he enjoyed construction and could accomplish more if he got some formal training.
“I think one of the things that really pushed me to the next level was that I wanted the success so bad,” says Kevin, who grew up in Stone Mountain. “Obstacles were thrown in my face, but I didn’t quit. I found a way around them, over them or through them. Because I really wanted this, I didn’t let certain things stop me from pursuing my dreams.”
Kevin and the rest of his classmates ultimately resumed their daily sessions at Westside Works and he graduated in August 2020.
“I really like the training experience that Construction Ready had,” Kevin says, “It was fast-paced, but it was very thorough. And they gave me everything I needed to be successful. The instructors were knowledgeable and experienced. I appreciate them for being hard on us and holding us accountable.”
At Construction Ready graduation ceremonies, each class member has an opportunity to share their thoughts. Kevin remembers his remarks well:
“I said, ‘I started the program five-nine, but today I’m ten feet tall. I really meant that. With everything they imparted to us, I left the program feeling like I could conquer the world. The sky was the limit.”
From the hiring fair process that empowers Construction Ready students and employers to seek mutual matches, Kevin was hired by Engineering Consulting Services (ECS), which specializes in geotechnical, construction materials, environmental and facilities engineering. Based at ECS Southeast’s Atlanta location, Kevin earned nuclear gauge, concrete testing and soil testing certifications to go along with the credentials he had acquired through his Construction Ready training.
Two months into his tenure with ECS, Kevin was dispatched to work on an expansion project for Koch Foods, a poultry processing plant in Pine Mountain Valley, GA. That’s where he learned the Geopier Rammed Aggregrate Piers (RAP) system, a ground improvement technology that creates a densified column of aggregate surrounded by a stiffened matrix soil. By the time the project was complete, Kevin had completed 800 Geopier tests.
In the fall of 2021, Kevin was sent to Austin, TX to work on the initial stages of Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas facility. ECS was providing testing services for the site, while another company, Grounded Engineering, was providing quality control. In three months, Kevin went from having 800 Geopier tests under his belt to 150,000.
Kevin’s take-charge attitude and leadership skills caught the attention of Grounded Engineering, and in January of 2021 he received “an offer I couldn’t refuse” to join the company. He also enrolled in the advanced Construction Ready PLUS training that year, earning the OSHA 30 and additional credentials.
In January 2024 Kevin will have been with Grounded Engineering for three years. Job satisfaction was one of his goals, and he’s clearly found it in his soil testing career.
“In late 2019, I started to kind of redirect my focus,” Kevin recalls. “I said, ‘I really like building things and being in the construction industry, but I need to widen my skill set so I can land a better job and be more enthused to actually go to work. That was the catalyst for me going so hard to get into that program. I realized this is a good industry to be in, but I needed the right tools to be successful.
“I like the freedom it has allowed me to do what I want in my personal life,” he adds. “It’s not like a minimum-wage job where I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to make it to the next paycheck. I had been struggling with my confidence and wondering what I was going to do next. Construction Ready relieved all that stress.”
Asked what he would tell someone who is considering enrolling in Construction Ready’s pre-apprentice training, Kevin doesn’t hesitate. “Just do it,” he says. “Because if you apply yourself, you can change your life.”