EMPLOYEE FEATURE: PAUL BARGER
From flying excavators to embracing the company culture, Missoula, Montana-based Welding Technician Paul Barger has seen a lot in his 40 years with Western States.
Paul began his career with the company after a friend from technician school heard Paul had been laid off from his seasonal job with a road contractor. While perks like working indoors and being home with his family at night initially drew him to the job, Paul says the culture of the company has kept him with Western States for 40 years.
“I like the values of the company. I can’t say enough about how well Western States is run, and I think the people here show a lot of integrity,” he said.
Looking back on his career, one job especially stands out to Paul. Several years ago, the Tin Cup Dam near Darby, Montana desperately needed repairs. Located in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the repair site was too remote for a machine to access by land. To get the necessary equipment to the site, machines were disassembled, flown in by helicopter and reassembled at the jobsite.
The contractor on the job flew Paul and two other technicians out to the repair site to assemble the equipment as it came in. A 307 excavator came in one piece first to build a landing pad. Later, a helicopter flew in a 320 excavator and 938 wheel loader one large piece at a time. Once the dam repairs were complete, Paul was part of the team who took the equipment apart again so it could be flown back.
“That job was a once in a lifetime deal,” Paul said, “It took most of a week to put everything together and make sure it ran properly, and then about four days to take it all apart.”
Outside of work, Paul enjoys riding horses, snowmobiling and backcountry skiing with his wife, Karen. They also enjoy spending time with their two children and five grandkids.