The work came very easy for Wanna. A Job Corps experience in Salt Lake City helped him shape his path into the trades by being trained in welding and carpentry. “I have always clicked with [the work that I do]. I have always liked the work,” he said. When he came back to Sioux Falls to work with Olympic Companies at 19, like most apprentices, there was a lot of learning and on-the-job training from the foremen and journeymen he worked with.
“I was an instructor when he was just starting at Olympic, so I had him as a student during his apprenticeship. He’s very smart—which helps a lot—and he’s naturally a person of high integrity and honesty. He already had those qualities then, so he just needed more experience to keep climbing that leadership ladder,” said Todd Tilberg, Field Superintendent & Safety Director, Olympic Companies SD.
Now as a foreman, Wanna mentors and leads his crew on projects that span stadiums, big box stores, hospitals, and schools. “It’s a little bit of a different world now—you have to pick your crew for the job, teach and motivate them, and get the work done. You actually have to help the guys and push them along,” he said. The foreman has been reading and learning about how to work with diverse groups of people as he grows into his leadership role. “Olympic has helped me with leadership and professional development classes like the Dale Carnegie ones, and I read a bunch of different books that teach you how to work with people.”
“Jeff is working extremely hard to improve his leadership skills and he’s come a long way since he’s been running work. I trust him, which is important to me as the Field Superintendent because they’re in charge of pretty good budgets and the livelihood of other personnel that work for them,” said Tilberg. “Every job Jeff does, he gains experience and improves my experience in teaching people to be good leaders or foremen.”