Iraq Veteran Finds Rewarding Challenges and Opportunity with Laborers' Union

Brad Densley, a Hamon Custodis employee in our Utah office, has been spotlight featured in the NorthWest Laborer's Skill & Pride Newsletter.

After volunteering to extend his tour of duty in Iraq for an extra five months, Brad Densley started thinking about what he was going to do once he became a civilian. Working in the Corps' communications division gave him an experience he would later be able to use after he left the service, but it was far from what he would eventually end up doing.

When asked why he chose the Marines, Densley said, "It was the one branch of the service I thought was the most challenging, and I was up for the challenge of being a Marine. I knew I wanted to do that after I first visited the recruiting office when I was 17, and at age 19 I was finally a Marine."

Challenges are apparently something that Densley takes in stride. Promotions in the Corps came quickly, faster than they did for them most, keeping him busy and feeling satisfied that he was not only doing something that mattered for his unit and his country, but also for himself by doing everything that came his way with pride. Meeting those challenges was something that would serve him well after he was honorably discharged back in the states and made his way back home to Utah.

After pulling his 4 year, five month hitch in the Marine Corps, Brad Densley had an idea of what he wanted to do, but he wasn't exactly sure how To pull it off. He wanted to work in the construction industry like his older brother. He wanted a job that paid well, had health benefits and maybe even something that would give him something to look forward to when he retired. When he signed up at Helmets to Hardhats, the national program that excels in helping veterans find construction careers, he knew he wanted be a union Construction Craft Laborer.

"I chose the Laborers union because of all the different types of work they perform," said Densley when asked why a Military Communications Security Tech would choose that particular vocation. "They have so many different types of skilled classifications they train people for I knew I had found my next big challenge."

As a union laborer, he has excelled beyond what Utah Laborers' Local 295 Business Manager Diane Lewis predicted. His positive attitude and ability to communicate his willingness to make a career out of being a union Laborer made him an ideal candidate for the union's apprenticeship program.

"When he came on board, I could tell he was going to be a good hand. He exhibited all the qualities we knew our contractors want to see in an apprentice. He tested out at a second period apprentice level and we sent him out to his first job and he's been with them ever since," Lewis commented recently. "He went beyond my expectations and proved that he found a career that not only gave him what he wanted but also brought about a sense of satisfaction that not everybody finds. He went all the way to that would Alabama for his first job and he paid his own way back to get the classroom training we require of our apprentices."

After gaining the required on-the-job learning and classroom instruction hours to complete the apprenticeship program, Brad was able to top out as a Journeyworker Construction Craft Laborer.

Densley was pleased to see a fellow veteran attending the union graduation ceremony recognizing his new status. Retired General Peter Cooke was attending the union meeting and was taken with the young veteran who not only served an extended tour of duty in Iraq but also excelled at his career. Cook commented on the pride he felt with such a fellow veteran and how he appreciated the good work of Helmets to Hardhats.

"We were glad to get such a great guy referred to us from the Helmets to Hardhats program," Commented Jesse Loose, Training Coordinator for the Utah Training Center of the Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust. "They have a great way of finding the right place for veterans who want to work in construction. Brad is someone who knows where he's going and he delivers quality work for his employer. There's not much that man can't do."

Delivering for his employer is exactly what Brad did starting on the first day of his job 630 feet above ground level on top of a new smoke stack working for Hamon Custodis, a full-service chimney company that designs and builds industrial chimneys and stacks throughout the US and Canada. He was thrilled to be part of what seemed like an engineering marvel to him and he took pride in being a part of it.

"We were pulling a bucket with 6 yards of concrete up through the center of this huge chimney and putting it into these powered Georgia buggies, taking them all over placing the concrete for the chimney's roof," said Brad, retelling the story of his first day as a Laborer. "I had never done anything like that, but I kept up with everyone and worked my hardest to prove I was able to do it. That was day one!"

Duty, honor, and loyalty were things that Brad Densley brought with him from the Marines; he proved he had the same for his employer and his union, and it was confirmed at a recent ceremony at the dedication of a veteran's statue in front of the Taylorsville City Office building.

Helmets to Hardhats awarded him with a Workers' Compensation Scholarship citing his abilities and his accomplishments as a veteran and union Laborer. He plans on using the scholarship to help finance the final semesters he needs to get his Associates Degree in Building Construction/Construction Management.

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