By: David Ayers
July 8, 2019
With Father’s Day 2019 in the books, I spent a little time thinking about my dad. He has been blessed with 86 years of good prosperous health, and a keen memory. One of the greatest benefits of that keen memory is me being able to tap in to all of that knowledge of his years with GDOT.
In 1959, he started working for GDOT which at that time what was referred to as the “State Highway Department”. Starting out on a “staking party,” or as we modern day folks refer to it as a survey party, laying out projects such as I-85 and many other state routes and rural roads in North and Northeast Georgia.
After the I-85 layout project work ended, he started working in the construction division, again all through the North and Northeast Georgia area. A lot of the work involved helping local cities and counties build new roads, pave old dirt roads, build bridges and culverts, and various other roadway projects. He also performed a great deal of state construction projects. He was very fortunate to have the many opportunities offered to him, since his education was only at a high school level.
Many years ago I asked him how he was so fortunate to be offered those opportunities. Of course some of it was just “right place at the right time” but more importantly he had a great work ethic and equally important, willing to go the extra mile to do what was right. He became a “go-to” guy for asphalt work and paved many miles of roads during his career. Over the course of his career with GDOT, he had paved every portion of I-85 from I-285 to the Georgia-South Carolina line.
Most of his career was spent in the Gwinnett County area. He would share stories of paving some of our more major roads in areas such as greater Atlanta. Jimmy Carter Blvd, Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Buford Hwy, Satellite Blvd and many others. When it came to high profile paving, he was known as “the man.”
One key concept that he focused on was the importance of having great people surround you through the years. He shared with me that it is imperative, no matter what profession you are in, to share your knowledge and mentor those around you. Create the next great set of employees by mentoring them and sharing your knowledge. He worked for some great leaders in GDOT and had great future leaders work for him. Those future leaders included a State Traffic Engineer, a State Contracts Administration Manager, and the Project Manager for the infamous “Spaghetti Junction” Interchange. Each of these future leaders worked for my dad as interns and later moved up to high ranking. I was fortunate to have talked to each of them during my time with GDOT and each had a kind word and fun story about their time with my dad.
As I travel on many roads that I know my dad has touched, I am very proud of all that he has accomplished. Through my career, I too, have had the opportunity to work with many great people. All who shared knowledge and tips that have helped me become who I am today. As we all strive to be our best selves, let’s keep striving to create the next great employee by mentoring and sharing your knowledge. It really works.