As one of the finalists (there are a total of 10 from across the country), Robert was selected by a panel of judges based on the essay he submitted. Finalists have now moved on to the contest's community voting phase, which runs through Sept. 20. During this phase, the finalists' friends, family, co-workers, etc., can cast their vote for the Grand Prize Winner at www.brawnyindustrialgaw.com. In addition to being named the Great American Worker, the winner will drive away in a new Ford F-150.
Here is Robert's story:
No matter how strong their traditions, successful companies must keep up with the times. Robert Chumley learned this lesson firsthand when he took over the family paving business that his father and uncle started in the late 1960s after his uncle returned from Vietnam. “The 1980s and ‘90s were boom times for us,” says this finalist in the 2013 Brawny Industrial® brand Great American Worker contest. “But when I took over the business three years ago, there wasn’t much of a company left.” To his credit, Robert turned it around, and today the company is a success again even in the leaner economy of 2013.
It was clear that the company hadn’t kept up
with the era of technology. Robert changed all that. “We put the business on
the Internet and starting getting bid invitations and plans online,” he says.
“That made a huge difference. I learned the Internet myself. My wife helped a
Safety is another key to his success. “I employ all family members and manage to have a spotless safety record. We keep current on all necessary training in our industry and continue to be productive. My small crew is able to the do the work of a crew double the size.” He constantly urges his team to be aware of their surroundings. “There is so much going on at a paving site, so much equipment. I usually run the spreader and we have dump trucks that we hire out. There is a lot of noise and you have to pay attention every minute with these big machines around. It’s crucial.”
Today, his customers are primarily commercial companies on the north side of Atlanta near his home in Dallas, although he does some residential work, as well. At 42, Robert takes understandable pride in the results he has achieved. “I was able to turn this little company around in the last year to have a positive profit when the building industry had taken a plunge,” he says. “We managed to secure some good jobs during the hard times. Sometimes my family suffers because my wife and I run this business on our own and are often working into the night hours. But it’s worth it to know I am able to provide for my family. My oldest son works for me, my brother and my uncle. And others on our team give us a total of eight employees who depend on me.”
In his spare time, Robert is often on the soccer field with his younger son, who starts high school this year in all honors classes, and daughter, who will begin attending the University of Georgia. “I worked late hours and a lot of weekends as my kids were growing up but I managed to attend their sports activities and work in between,” he says. “I know the value of hard work and I feel I have instilled that in my children. They work hard in school and will let nothing stop them.”
Robert supports his community by doing paving work for churches and schools. “We offer a good sized discount on any work provided. Recently we helped a local church by paving the parking lot and driveway. We worked late hours with handheld flashlights to ensure the job was done. We also contributed to a local elementary school. We paved a walking track for the kids and donated a good portion since their PTA barely had the funds to cover it.”
Robert’s wife found out about the Great American Worker contest and encouraged him to enter because of his work ethic and the way he provides for his family. If he wins, he is really looking forward to having a brand new Ford® F-150, the grand prize. “I donated my old truck to the business as a work truck,” he says. “I would really like a personal vehicle of my own."
“I feel that I am the Great American Worker because I have been working construction since I was a teenager. I am the poster child for going to the ‘school of hard knocks,’” Robert wrote in his essay about why he is a Great American Worker. Read the essay and register to vote at https://www.brawnyindustrialgaw.com/Gallery.
Voters can qualify for a chance to win great prizes at www.brawnyindustrialgaw.com