C.W. Kick

Shop Manager

Q: What is your job title with Midwest Mole? What are your typical responsibilities?
A: I’m the equipment manager, and I’ve been with Midwest Mole since March 2018. My responsibilities are kind of a long list, but I basically take care of everything to do with our equipment — buying it, selling it, fixing it, storing it, and trucking it around. I’m in charge of the shop, our trucking operations, our yard and facilities, and everything in between.

Q: What challenges do you encounter on a regular basis in your role?
A: The biggest challenge is making sure everybody has everything they need when they need it. Everything has to be in the right place at the right time. When something breaks and the job stops, getting that piece of equipment repaired or swapped out as quickly as possible can be tricky too.

Q: What were you up to in your career before you came to Midwest Mole?
A: Right out of high school, I started working for a company that built boring and directional drilling equipment. I worked there for about 12 years. I also worked in a repair shop, and for an oil drilling company. After I got tired of traveling the country on an extreme basis, I spent about seven years with other pipeline companies doing basically what I do now, managing equipment.

In short, I spent the first decade of my career fixing and building underground equipment, and the next ten years managing it.

Q: What do you enjoy about your job? What gets you out of bed in the morning and excited to go to work?
A: I love the challenge and the fact that things are always changing. People ask what I do and I tell them I’m a fireman because I go around putting out fires all day long. The challenges of my job are what has always driven me to make something better.

When something breaks, I try to pull a rabbit out of my hat to get it back up and running somehow. Lots of people like to run away from problems, but I like to run straight at them. There’s never a shortage of problems to work through in my position, and I really enjoy that.

Q: Compared to other companies in this industry, what sets Midwest Mole apart?
A: I knew from the moment I started talking to these guys that this is a tightly knit group of people. There’s a lot of companies that talk about a family atmosphere, but here it’s actually true. We have disagreements sometimes as you’ll see in any family, but we work together, and everybody has everyone else’s back. We don’t just point fingers and go run and hide if something goes wrong.

The management team is also great — they give us the freedom to be creative when we’re solving problems for our customers. They trust us to come up with solutions on our own. They’re not stuck in their ways and telling us things need to be done a certain way.

Q: Do you have any ideas that could help our industry recruit young people better?
A: That’s a tough one. That’s been the challenge of the year for the last ten years. I think continuing to push social media gives us great exposure, and that’s always going to be important for reaching young people.

I also think we could do a better job of marketing the industry to teenagers. The trades are kind of a “choose your own adventure” type of career, and we need to be able to show high school kids that working in the trades can be a cool thing to do.

I’m interested in giving kids a chance to try out equipment too. If we could put together a supervised, controlled environment where kids could come in and move some dirt with an excavator, that would open their eyes a bit. Overall, we just need to find ways to stick our hand up and say “hey, we’re an option too — going to college isn’t your only path.”

Q: Is there anyone you’ve looked up to in your life, or anyone that you think of as a mentor?
A: My older brother was instrumental to me early on. He owns an auto repair shop. I remember being 16 years old, and I had just ripped the clutch out of my truck. I brought it down to his shop, handed it over, and was about to walk out the door.

He said, “you’re not leaving until you fix the clutch.” I told him I didn’t know how to do that, and he said that I would by the end of the day. He taught me to be fearless when it comes to mechanical things. You don’t need to have all the answers in this line of work, but you do need to know where you can find them.

My older brother pushed me to improve myself, to open up my mind, and to be fearless when it comes to attacking problems.

Q: How do you spend your free time when you’re not at work?
A: I’m married, and I have a son and a daughter. I used to travel a lot, so these days I love to spend as much time as I can with my family. I’ve always been a gearhead, so we like to go to drag races and dirt track races. I like to work on some old vehicles and remodel the house a bit too. Sometimes, we’ll go to the lake or take a vacation to the beach. I keep busy, that’s for sure!

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