A Day in the Life of a Miller Foreman

We’re continuing our series of glimpses into the daily lives of the people who provide the on-time, within-budget, high quality work that sets Miller Electric apart among commercial electrical contractors in Nebraska with a look at Miller Foremen Jason Lang and Mark Whannell. Last month, we talked with Roger Knobbe about what it’s like to be a Project Manager for Miller Electric. Being a Miller Foreman is a bit like being a Project Manager; every day is different and managing relationships with clients and Miller team members is an ongoing part of the job.

“As foremen, we coordinate with clients and all of the different trades on projects to maximize efficiency while the guys are working so they can do their jobs without any interruptions,” said Jason Lang. “Often, we’re the middle men between our teams, the other trades, and client staff.” All of that interfacing results in days jam packed with meetings and planning.

Featured in photo above is Miller foreman, Jason Lang,

“I spend much more of my time in meetings as a foreman than I did as a machinist before I came to work with Miller, but I don’t mind because there’s always something different and challenging to work on,” said Jason. “I really enjoy solving issues and looking ahead to see what we can do to maximize efficiency and minimize rework.” Mark Whannell agreed. The former Miller apprentice and employee since 1999 spoke to us from a trailer on a job site where he had his nose in a book, learning about a new system relevant to that project, Whannell mentioned liking the opportunity to improve efficiencies for clients on the projects he helps manage as a foreman for Miller Electric.

“It seems like we are regularly testing new technologies to find ways to save our clients time and money,” said Whannell. “I take every chance I can to learn and study and when I encounter a system I’m not familiar with, I make the time to learn it until I understand it. That attitude is cultivated here and it helps us all keep open minds about how we can be more effective on every project and tackle each job as a team.”

Featured in photo above is Miller foreman, Mark Whannell.

Every Commercial Electrical Contracting Project is Completed as a Team

Miller Electric became one of the most trusted commercial electrical contractors in the Omaha area not by trying to get jobs done as cheaply and quickly as possible, but by nurturing an atmosphere of trust, accountability, efficiency, and teamwork. These qualities drive the excellence that Miller Electric is able to accomplish day in and day out.

“There’s a team atmosphere all the time between the home office and the field,” said Jason. “I can always ask their thoughts and ideas about how to resolve issues and look outside the box.” Whannell concurred, saying, “Our job is to manage and coordinate electrical installations in all types of commercial and industrial applications, but we don’t do it alone, as individuals. Whether it’s making sure the lights come on at a child’s school, that a company’s equipment fits into its remodeled electrical room, or that hospitals have the power they need to care for their patients, we start and finish projects as a team.”

Simple Changes Drive Project Success

The difference between finishing a project on time and late often comes down to simple changes and proactive project management. “I try to always be looking two weeks ahead at what we’ll be working on and where,” said Jason. “That allows me to make slight adjustments to our schedule or working conditions to make the work easier for our guys.” On smaller jobs, foremen are right there, directing their crew to make sure things are installed right. On larger jobs Miller foremen act more like general foremen, managing others who directly manage their teams. “We communicate on a daily basis with our teams, discussing what’s coming down the pipe and the best way to handle it as a group,” said Mark.

“Sometimes success can be as simple as getting the material closer to the guys doing the work.”

On tough jobs with complex and challenging requirements, Miller’s team approach and attention to detail often saves the day. That was Mark’s experience working on the Kutak Rock building renovation as well as Jason’s ongoing experience managing projects for the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“Kutak Rock is Omaha's first high rise and one of the oldest buildings in town,” said Mark. “In retrofitting it and bringing it up to code for them with new systems, we encountered tough challenges that we absolutely had to tackle as a team. At the end of the project though, we also felt a collective pride in our work. We learned a lot and helped preserve an amazing building for the city of Omaha.”

On the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s 2220 Project, success demanded an intense amount of coordination between Miller team members and client staff. “We had to plan carefully to see what we could and couldn’t do in certain areas to preserve patient safety and comfort,” said Jason. “It always felt good though when the head nurses would comment on our thoughtfulness to make as little noise and interference as possible. Sometimes I guess it’s just the little things that make Miller Electric such an awesome team to work for.”