“I just like playing with big toys,” Deer Creek, Minn. native Doug Stave says with a wide smile when asked why he chose construction as a career. The grandfather of five worked as a plumber for many years but chose to move toward heavy equipment later in life and found the IUOE Local 49 as a perfect fit for his career plans.
“You can see stuff get done, you see a lot of stuff moved in a day,” says Doug describing what he appreciates most about operating heavy equipment, which includes work in excavators, backhoes, and skid steers. Doug’s career in heavy equipment construction includes work at a new Sanford hospital in Fargo and a power plant near Fergus Falls as well as work in mines near Grand Rapids, Minn. The work often takes Doug away from his family, but he loves what he does and his family supports him.
More recently, Doug began training on a piece of equipment called a “Deckhand” at the Local 49’s training facility in Hinckley, Minn. Because of changes in construction trends, technology, and methods, continual training is a fact of life for heavy equipment operators like Doug. Because of the union, Doug is able to train in on new equipment free of charge and incorporate that training into his work on various projects across the state. In the case of the Deckhand, Doug would be well-equipped with the specialty skills to work on one of the handful of pipeline projects currently undergoing environmental review by the state of Minnesota. Doug describes the training provided by the union in one word, “excellent.”
All training for 49ers like Doug is provided at a training center near Hinckley, Minn., a facility that is staffed and paid for exclusively through union dues that members pay out of pocket, a perk that benefits Doug, the contractors who employ Doug, and the state’s economy as a whole. The center offers over 700 acres of space for training as well as numerous classrooms for teaching skills that range from crane operation and Commercial Drivers License training to asbestos certification. For Doug, that means nearly limitless opportunity to grow his skills and continue his career doing what he loves to do as a 49er.