Midwest Mole’s Best and Brightest
The Midwest Mole Hall of Fame is a way for us to recognize the contributions provided by our longtime team members. The plaques honoring these men and women hang in our office 365 days a year, reminding us of those who helped build this incredible company into what it is now. Without these people, it’s safe to say that Midwest Mole wouldn’t exist as we know it today.
Len was the founder of our company — our hero and mentor. Along with his wife Jane, they both made tremendous sacrifices and took big risks when most people at their stage in life were readying for retirement. Len was tenacious, he knew an opportunity when he saw it, and he established a pattern of hard work and dedication that still sticks in our DNA today. He helped establish our culture of “Mud and the Blood.” If you know what that means, then Midwest Mole is the place for you
Jane’s role was on the support side of the business. She worked tirelessly behind the scenes supporting the field, and she was also instrumental in getting the business off the ground.
David was a great teacher and a hard worker — there was no cutting corners with Dave. He had a bit of an old-school mentality, but he truly cared about everyone’s safety and wellbeing. David did two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he operated heavy equipment for the Army. When he returned home, he took a job as a welder, even though he had no experience using a cutting torch. His employer quickly discovered that David couldn’t weld, but kept him on due to his incredible work ethic and eagerness to learn. This is the Midwest Mole culture in a nutshell — we don’t take no for an answer, and we’ll sacrifice anything to get closer to our goals.
Dennis was one of our all-time great auger bore foremen. At a time when auger boring was the core focus of Midwest Mole, he was one of our leaders. We always say that auger boring is more art than science, and Dennis was a true artist. He also trained many of our people, including a couple of our current foremen. He was a problem solver who was always willing to share his knowledge with others.
Tony was a smart guy who worked hard and trained many of our people. He was always willing to lend a hand to help people out, no matter what the task. As one of our first foremen at the company’s inception, Tony’s experience was invaluable in the early days of Midwest Mole.
Elmer Turner and James McClain
Elmer and James retired as our leading hand mining experts. Sometimes, our company still excavates tunnels by hand, and these two men defined what it means to be a tunnel head end man. Understanding how the earth moves and how to control it is a real challenge. These men were masters at manipulating Mother Nature — from sand to hard pan clay to rock and boulders, they knew how to remove any material by hand. Not only is it exceptionally hard work, but you have to be smart to put in tunnels on line and on grade. These men were better than any open cut pipe layer, and their tunnels were always on the money.
John was an instrumental man in our operations, especially in the early days of Midwest Mole. John was in charge of operations in the Chicago area for a large portion of his career, and eventually took over overall company operations. He was a stern leader, but everyone respected him, and he taught many of our foremen and superintendents everything they know. Tough, fair, smart, problem solver, would not take no, and really was a great people person. John was tough, but he was also fair and smart, as well as a great people person — he understood people and got the best out of them every day.
inton provided a tremendous amount of mentorship to the younger guys at Midwest Mole, and he was a real expert when it came to estimating. He started as a laborer, and he worked all the way up to Vice President. At one point, Vinton was actually a part owner in Midwest Mole, although Len eventually bought his shares back. Vinton helped grow our business from a fledgling startup to a viable, experienced contractor. He solidified the Chicago market and established some of our key relationships in that area. Customers loved him — we still get calls asking “How’s Vinny doing?”
Oscar was one of our first foremen, and he worked on countless tunnels over the years. Oscar and Ronnie Hicks formed a great team for many years.
Like James and Elmer before him, Ronnie was a rock-solid tunnel man and hand miner. His experience was invaluable, and he was fully capable of leading crews as well. Ron was always a calming influence on jobs, as we always knew we could count on his ability to solve problems.
Sadly, we lost Nick in a tragic accident on a project in Colorado. Nick’s memory is honored every year by an award we created called the “Nick Wilson Award.” Nick embodied what it means to work at Midwest Mole. He was hard working, smart, and always willing to do whatever it takes. Nick always had a smile on his face. You really have to love this work to do it well — Nick enjoyed every day with our company, and it showed. He is greatly missed. The Nick Wilson Award is given each year to the employee that best personifies Nick’s qualities, and it is the highest honor at Midwest Mole.