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In The Community with Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors

 

Each quarter, Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) will feature an article highlighting staff members, trade workers and small businesses, all of whom are working with us toward the successful completion of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

Construction Careers Information Center (CCIC) - In the Community Profile

CCICSignificant redevelopment is currently underway in the South Los Angeles area that is bringing in billions of dollars in construction projects and new jobs over the next 10 years, with the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project leading this new wave of opportunity. As a result, Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) created the Construction Careers Information Center (CCIC), in partnership with the Los Angeles Urban League, to ensure that potential workers have access to the information, education and training needed to be fully prepared to pursue these opportunities.

Headquartered at Crenshaw America's Job Center in the heart of the Crenshaw community, CCIC first opened its doors in March 2014 with the mission to increase community knowledge and understanding of construction industry careers and to assist individuals in building the framework to become employed in the industry. Since that time, CCIC has referred more than 400 recipients to PVJOBS, staffing agencies and other organizations seeking to hire workers in the construction industry. Of those referred, 79 percent are African American, 15 percent are Latino, 21 percent are women, and 34 percent are veterans.

"We needed to create a space where people can see what the new LA will be and what skills will be needed," said Nolan Rollins, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. "We've developed a partnership that will bring real opportunities to our community."

CCIC staff has worked hard to establish relationships with local unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Carpenters Union, as well as with public agencies and major construction firms across Southern California, to provide them with qualified workers who are prepared to begin work on day one.

"Our motto here at the CCIC is 'Empowering Communities and Changing Lives'. We've developed a training program focused on getting our customers ready for these construction jobs, including a three-week session focused on leadership and communication skills," said Elainea Robbins, Employment and Business Services Manager for CCIC.

"Leadership and communication are critical," said Erich Engler, Business Manager for Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC). "When working on a billion dollar light rail project like this one, it all comes down to safety and coordination."

CCIC is also focused on encouraging more women to enter the construction field and is reaching out to organizations like WINTER (Women in Non Traditional Employment Roles, Inc.) to establish partnerships and develop programs that provide opportunities to women in disadvantaged communities.

"It is critically important for the community to be able to take ownership of this project and for people to say 'I helped build that'. By doing so, this project becomes yours," said Rollins.

As a result of the CCIC's efforts to provide the community with a pathway to this growing industry, they are now getting more people coming in the door who are interested in working in construction. Robbins regularly counsels these job seekers to "be patient with the process", given some of the requirements for these positions.

"Explore your options, know the industry and engage," added Robbins.

Josh Shubin - In the Community Profile

Josh ShubinAs a young boy, Josh Shubin developed a strong passion for sports, becoming a triathlete at the age of seven and spending most of his youth mastering the games of football, baseball and soccer (and later, basketball). He also spent a lot of downtime playing with one of his favorite toys – Legos.

"Building things was always really fun because it allowed me to see how you can turn a vision into reality," said Shubin.

This love of building and design led him to attend USC, where he decided to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, while also playing on the University's baseball team for one semester before deciding to focus solely on his studies.

Shubin was later accepted into an internship program with Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC), where he gained valuable hands-on experience on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project. His rotational training provided him with opportunities to work on pre-construction survey reconnaissance and plan for the necessary work materials.

After graduating in May 2015, Shubin was encouraged by a fellow church member to apply for one of the open full-time engineer positions available at WSCC. Given his strong work ethic and experience on the project, he decided to apply and was quickly hired as a Project Engineer. His duties now include document control, managing the master submittal list and overseeing the processing of payments to contractors. Shubin's ultimate goal is to become a Project Manager, overseeing major high-profile projects like this one.

"Josh has the commitment and motivation to do really well in this field and we can definitely help mold him into a future Project Manager," said Erich Engler, Business Manager for WSCC.

When not at work, "Shubes", as his friends and colleagues like to call him, enjoys spending time with his wife, Tatsyana, on their many hiking and snowboarding adventures. They are both active in their church, with Shubin currently channeling his athletic prowess into developing a church flag football league.

Shubin credits his passion for sports and his competitive spirit with keeping him focused on getting the job done.

"It's hard sometimes, but as long as you keep going and remain dedicated, then it will definitely be worth it in the end," added Shubin.

Jermaine Edwards - In the Community Profile

Jermaine EdwardsJermaine Edwards has experienced his share of challenges in life and is no stranger to adversity. However, that adversity has now led to success, as he thrives in his current position as a Skill Craft Laborer (Apprentice) on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

Edwards was born in Southeast Los Angeles and raised by his grandmother who worked hard to try to keep him out of trouble. Despite her best efforts, a series of events led him down a path that first took him to juvenile hall, and eventually, prison. After his release, Edwards took a long hard look at his life and realized that it was time to make a change.

He first worked as a seasonal firefighter before hearing about a five-day boot camp program held in his community for those interested in joining the construction field. This boot camp, one of the many programs created by Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) in support of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, is co-sponsored by Local Laborers 300 and works to provide participants with valuable skills and experience that can be used to enter into construction.

"The boot camp was difficult and very physically demanding," remembers Edwards. However, he credits the program with teaching him three key principles about what it takes to be successful in this industry: consistency, dedication and punctuality.

"A lot of people have been helped by this boot camp and we definitely plan on continuing this great program," said Erich Engler, Business Manager for WSCC.

Upon completing the program, Edwards was encouraged by Michael Ector of PVJOBS and Leon Gullette of Community Build to apply for a job on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project. Since beginning work in August 2014, he has gained hands-on experience working under deck, flagging trucks, chipping concrete and protecting gas lines in and around the work site. He has also learned how to lay foundations and the different steps involved in the drilling process, and now hopes to one day transition to the operator side of the business, which involves working with heavy equipment.

Edwards remains humble about his current success, and even mentors some of his fellow co-workers who have recently transitioned from the prison system into the workplace.

"Don't give up on life," said Edwards. "Believe that you can do what you want to do and be who you want to be."

Jorge Velazquez - In the Community Profile

Jorge Velazquez Qtrly PhotoAs a young boy, Jorge Velazquez always knew he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.  That drive probably had something to do with the fact that he comes from a proud family of engineers.  Born in Mexico, Jorge and his family moved to the United States when he was in the seventh grade.  His parents regularly encouraged him to work hard and follow his dreams.  After graduating from Fresno State with a degree in civil engineering in 2013, Jorge began an internship with a subdivision of Walsh Construction Co. in Fresno, an opportunity that served as a gateway to a permanent position at the firm.

In May 2014, he was offered the chance to move to Los Angeles and begin a job working on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project for Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC).  Viewing this as a growth opportunity, Jorge jumped at the chance.  Serving as a project engineer, he now spends his days immersed in two of the things he loves most — engineering and construction. 

"Working with large structures and in project scheduling really allows me to see and learn how things get done job-wide," Jorge said. 

Prior to joining the WSCC team, Jorge had never before worked on a project of this magnitude and with a team this broad. 

"Jorge is the type of guy who has the ability to roll with the punches and meet the challenges of this kind of large-scale project," said Erich Engler, WSCC Business Manager.  

While professional growth and development is important in any career, it is the absolute foundation for success in the competitive fields of engineering and construction.  As a result, Jorge regularly spends many evenings and weekends studying to receive his professional engineer (P.E.) license, which is the profession’s highest standard of competence.  He is also a member of the Board of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the nation’s oldest engineering society. 

"Teamwork, quality and safety," that’s how Jorge describes the general working environment on this project.  From bridges to railroads and other types of infrastructure, his time at WSCC and in the Los Angeles area has given him valuable insight and experience he hopes to use toward one day becoming project manager on other large projects.  However, what he enjoys most about his job and working on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project is the chance to see something that he helped construct move from a vision to a reality. 

"Not only will this project benefit the community," he said, "but it’s providing me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to contribute to something today, that I’ll be able to bring my kids to in the future and say, ‘This is what we built.’"

Ricshawn Moore - In the Community Profile

Ricshawn Moore Qtrly PhotoThe path to becoming a union laborer was not always easy.  But Ricshawn Moore kept an open mind, worked hard, and today is earning a living as a union-scale laborer on the much-anticipated Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project, being developed by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and seen throughout South Los Angeles as a new pathway to the revered Crenshaw Corridor.  

Growing up, Ricshawn faced all of the challenges many of our young men face in today’s communities.  Raised by a hardworking mother in Compton after his father passed away when Ricshawn was just 2, he spent too much time on the streets as a teen and ended up struggling with gangs and conflicting with local police, ultimately ending up in jail at an early age.  

"I felt lost – like I had no purpose," he recalls.  "I didn’t see a legitimate future."   

While incarcerated, he began thinking about his future and realized he wanted more for himself than what the streets and prison life could ever offer.  As he entered adulthood, he knew it was time for a change and began thinking about life beyond the streets.  

After his release, Ricshawn joined Jericho Vocational Services Center (JVSC) with Shields for Families, to improve his life skills and assist him in job preparation. He worked closely with Joseph Paul and Saun Hough from JVSC, who served as mentors, helping him discover that he liked working with his hands. Hough then suggested he get involved in the construction trades and provided practical training with hand and power tools.  

Ricshawn completed his training, clearly excelling in areas he previously had never even considered, and was referred to PVJOBS, where he worked as an ironworker for a non-union construction company.  Excited to be working in the construction field, Ricshawn looked forward to turning that job into a lasting career.  

While working as an ironworker, Hough explained that Shields for Families was part of the Jobs Collaborative with PVJOBS, that fed workers to Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors, and that he wanted to refer Ricshawn as a candidate for the Laborers Union Boot Camp for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project.  Ricshawn jumped at this exciting opportunity and successfully passed the labor-intensive boot camp, one of only 5 of the original 15 candidates to complete the program.  

Ricshawn was then sponsored into the Laborers’ Local 300 Union as a 1st period apprentice by Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors, and has been working for them ever since.   

"From the opportunities presented by Shields for Families, PVJOBS and Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors with the targeted hiring program for Metro, I now feel confident in a career and a future doing work I enjoy," said Ricshawn.  "This opportunity has also helped me grow as an individual, become a better provider and father to my child, and makes me want to give back to my community.  This project is amazing.  I’m literally participating in developing a transit corridor that will open up opportunities for work, education and weekend activities for the South LA community; and through my job, I get to be a part of it."

Ethan Smith - In the Community Profile

Ethan Smith Profile PictureEthan Smith, Project Engineer for Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC), has been working on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project for close to a year and a half. During this time, Ethan has worked under the direct supervision of the Business Manager, learning about labor compliance, outreach and overall administration. To further his professional growth, Ethan was given the opportunity to work directly on subcontractor oversight and the construction of bridges, proving to be instrumental in the construction operation of the Century Bridge. With an eye for detail and an ability to be brought up to speed quickly, Ethan has become a key member of the WSCC team. Looking back on his experience thus far, Ethan believes that, "During my time with Walsh, I have witnessed the company’s dedication towards working on behalf of Metro to enhance the opportunities and vitality within the served community.  I have also seen Walsh’s commitment towards building young engineers and professionals to be the leaders in today’s industry – it’s a company where I can unquestionably see exponential growth"

Ethan holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and is currently pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Systems Engineering from LMU.  He also serves as the Chair of the 41st Annual National Convention for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which will take place in spring 2015 in Anaheim, California. This event brings together over 8,000 participants and 300 companies yearly. In addition to the NSBE, Ethan also volunteers with organizations such as Blazers and A Place Called Home.

The transportation spark was lit in Ethan when he took a transportation design class. As a young boy who often relied on public transportation to get to and from school. Ethan couldn’t have imagined that one day he would be part of the project staff that would be bringing a new transportation opportunity to his neighborhood. When he first joined the work force, Ethan explored new ways to get to and from work and realized he could use the recently completed Expo line. The convenience and savings of using public transportation was substantial for a recent college graduate, and all these things, along with a new interest in construction management, led Ethan to WSCC.

"Ethan is building bridges physically and figuratively," said Erich Engler, WSCC Project Manager.  "Being a part of the WSCC construction team building the LAX/Crenshaw Transit Project is another way Ethan is giving back to the community in which he was raised. Once the project is complete, it will serve a large population in the community and the region."

JLM Staffing Solutions - In the Community Profile

JLM Qtrly PhotoWhen LaShondra Ferguson and Jayson Mercurius first began contemplating starting their own business, many colleagues and friends called them crazy, given the tough economic climate at the time.  After all, many businesses were cutting back and some were folding altogether.  However, LaShondra and Jayson had a vision of what could be, and that vision became a reality in September 2011 when JLM Staffing Solutions opened its doors.

After several years of hard work, determination and experience gained by working on the I-405 Sepulveda Widening Project, their first big transportation project, they were more than ready to pursue an opportunity to work with Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.  JLM Staffing Solutions was hired by WSCC to provide recruitment and placement services for job candidates in the areas of office administration, accounting, document control, safety, quality control and other professional fields.

"We help develop people for lasting careers in construction and related industries," said LaShondra, the firm’s president. 

In fact, the firm has received great feedback for all of the candidates it has placed with WSCC thus far, and many have already been promoted.

As their business continues to grow, LaShondra and Jayson are committed to helping job seekers prepare for the jobs and careers they want, while becoming the kind of workers their clients are looking for. 

"They saw a need in the community and the chance to really make a difference – and they’ve succeeded," said Erich Engler, Business Manager for WSCC. 

LaShondra and Jayson are creating an academy where job candidates can be mentored and trained for positions in areas such as design-build, payroll services, project administration and quality control.  The program would focus on targeted and disadvantaged workers, students, veterans and those looking to update their job skills.  Once this new six-week course is ready to launch, JLM Staffing Solutions will partner with WSCC to promote it. 

"We enjoy seeing individuals grow and we really wanted to be a part of the community," said Jayson, Chief Operating Officer. 

While LaShondra and Jayson had worked together for more than 10 years prior to starting JLM Staffing Solutions, their bond continued to grow right along with their new business, and they are now happily married and have started a family together.  They’ve faced many challenges as small business owners, but the opportunity to work together doing something they love makes it all worthwhile.

"Our goal is to be the best and be universal," LaShondra said.

"We’re a good company that always strives to be a great one," Jayson added.

Anytime Dumping - In the Community Profile

Bobby  Monique Evans Profile PicBobby and Monique Evans are the proud owners of Anytime Dumping, a small trucking and hauling firm working as subcontractors to Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) on the $2.058 billion Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project in South LA and Inglewood.  Before getting into the trucking and hauling business, Bobby and his wife, Monique, were working to find their niche as entrepreneurs in the South Los Angeles area, selling houses and even opening their own car wash at one point.  However, once Bobby’s uncle provided an opportunity to learn the trucking business, the couple began their journey toward small business ownership with tons of growth potential.

Starting with only one truck and a dream, this power couple has spent the last 20 years building a successful company that hires and trains African American and Latino residents from South LA to the South Bay.  Their strong commitment to local community hiring led them to partner with WSCC to hold a DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) workshop in South LA to help shepherd interested minority business owners through this complicated and somewhat time-consuming process.  According to Bobby, "paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, is the most challenging part of the DBE process," for most small businesses and independent contractors.  But with WSCC’s help, his company was able to get 80 people certified within an expedited two week schedule.  Once certified, these residents became eligible to work as subcontractors on this massive project, each with a personal stake in getting this project up and running.

Giving back to the community isn’t just a catchphrase in the Evans household, it’s a lifestyle.  Both Bobby, a graduate of Manual Arts High School, and Monique, a graduate of Crenshaw High School, are committed to providing residents from local communities with opportunities to learn and grow their businesses.  Even their son, Bobby Jr., and his girlfriend, both students at local universities, have gotten in on the act by working at the family business in hopes of one day leading the company and following in his parents’ successful footsteps.