For Al Smith, a career in the construction industry never comes too late.
As a Laborer apprentice from San Francisco who grew up in Bayview-Hunters Point, Smith is currently working for Western Water, a subcontractor on WW–628 Southeast Treatment Plant (SEP) New Headworks Facility – Bruce Flynn Pump Station.
“I kind of waited late in the game to get into construction – but better late than never,” said Smith. “Before I was doing construction, I was a driver. A friend of mine I went to high school with had a transportation company taking people to and from their doctor’s appointments.”
After three years of driving senior citizens to appointments, Smith decided to make a career change and enrolled in Gleneagles Training Program, a SFPUC-supported apprenticeship training program.
In December 2018, Smith was hired by Trinet Construction on Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant Odor Control Optimization Project. Unfortunately, Trinet’s scope of work was coming to a close and the opportunity was short-lived. However, Smith stayed optimistic and made the most of his chance. The work ethic and abilities he displayed in the training program and with Trinet afforded him the opportunity to transition to a role on a major project upgrading the aging Southeast Treatment Plant near where he grew up in the Bayview. Smith landed a position working on the New Headworks Facility Project with Western Water Constructors, a full-service engineering procurement and construction firm that designs and develops public, private and industrial water, wastewater and renewable energy infrastructure systems across California.
“Before I got into the SFPUC apprenticeship program for Northern California, we had to go through programs through the Laborers Local 261,” said Smith. “We learned CPR [Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation], first aid, flagging, and confined space training.”
“The programs paid off well,” said Smith, noting how both the Local 261 program and the apprenticeship training help connect him to his first opportunity to work for Trinet at the Oceanside Treatment Plant. “It was what I was looking for and it taught me a lot. It gave me job stability.”
Smith credits his success to more than just hard work. He is a dedicated single father of four and is proud of his children’s accomplishments and his ability to support them. His eldest son Dion is currently pursuing his graduate degree at California State University, Bakersfield. His daughter Serena obtained her AA degree and is currently a junior at the University of Maine where she received a basketball scholarship. Alexis is currently enrolled at Skyline College and is pursuing a career in real estate, and his youngest daughter Neriah is two years old.
Smith appreciates the opportunity to work with Western Water because of the nature of the work and the workplace culture. Western Water has impressed him with their belief in safety first and that teamwork is vital to the company success.
“It’s never too late! Better late than never,” said Smith. “I just want to thank the SFPUC for giving me an opportunity and for getting me where I’m at today.”