Being a Local 49 member is something that spans generations for the Topp family. It all started with Harold Topp, who became a Local 49 member in 1968, and he worked most of his career as an operator. His son, Doug Topp, has been a member for 25 years and currently works for Northdale Construction alongside his son Jared Topp.
Doug says that while he grew up watching his father operate equipment, it was his uncle Richard McCoy who found him his first job.
“After being a laborer for 11 years I finally became an operator with Northdale Construction, and I started operating in 1994,” Doug said.
At Northdale Construction Doug primarily works on residential street reconstruction projects.
“The hardest part is when we’re in close quarters, and we’re digging around gas and other power lines,” Doug said. “I’m on the dirt crew, and so we go in and rebuild the road after the pipe crew comes in and installs new lines.”
Doug says he enjoys the job because he’s always on the go and working on new projects.
“It’s not like highway heavy where you’re at a certain project for months at a time, we’ll be on jobs scattered all over the Twin Cities, and those jobs last for a couple of weeks and then we’re off to the next place,” Doug said.
“You somewhat do the same thing every day, but at a different location and each location is unique and has its own set of challenges, but it’s fun,” he added.
After being an operator for 25 years, Doug says he’s happy that he can pass on his knowledge to his son Jared who recently started working at Northdale Construction too.
“I never forced him to follow the same path as me, he sort of fell into it, but it’s been working out well. He’s a foreman now, and he’s doing a great job,” Doug said.
Jared Topp said he initially went to college for surveying, but quickly became unhappy with that career choice.
“I didn’t like the pace of the job, we’d work eight hours, and it felt like working 12, and honestly after doing it for a few years I just didn’t like the job as much as I thought I would,” Jared said.
That’s when Jared started looking into a career as a heavy equipment operator.
“I started as a laborer, but I quickly moved up to becoming an operator, and now I’ve been a member of Local 49 for five years,” Jared said.
Jared performs similar work to his dad and says it’s nice working with his dad because he’s always learning.
“If I ever have a question it’s nice just to be able to ask my dad how to do things because he’s done it for so long,” Jared said. “I never thought I’d be working with my dad, but now I can’t see doing it any other way.”
Jared and his crew are also responsible for digging up the old road to then have another crew replace utilities and then rebuild the road once the utilities are in place. Jared says he also likes the pace of the job.
“I like the pace of being in different areas for one to two weeks at a time,” he said. “It is tough digging with all the utilities underground especially because even though it may seem like they’re old and inactive lines, you still want to be careful because you just never know.”
Overall, both Doug and Jared say that they are proud to be members of Local 49.
“I love being a member of Local 49, it’s a great union, and they take care of us with the great health insurance and pension,” Doug said.
“I’m happy that I’m a member of Local 49, it’s a good job, and with good health insurance, especially with raising two kids, the insurance helps a lot,” Jared said.
For more stories like Doug and Jared’s visit www.local49.org.