Tyler Burley is a Colorado Springs native, and now he’s helping to light up the city in which he was born.
The 25-year-old electrical foreman has worked at Encore Electric, a Colorado-based employee-owned company, since he was 18. He recently worked on the Olympic & Paralympic Museum, a three-year-long project he calls “a once-in-a-lifetime build.”
“There’s never going to be another one of those built around the world for anything,” Burley said.
Burley loves the large-scale projects. Right now he’s working on Weidner Field — the new home of the Switchbacks soccer club — that’s going up Downtown at Sahwatch and Cimarron streets.
“I think it’s another iconic project for the whole Downtown Colorado Springs vision that everybody’s looking for down here,” he said. “They are cleaning it up and really trying to get it to look more like [Denver’s]16th Street Mall.”
Burley had no idea what he would do when he graduated from Falcon High School in 2013 — “I really did not want to go to school for years,” he recalls. His father, an electrician, told him to give the trade a try and see if he liked it.
“I ended up just falling in love with it,” Burley said. “So I just kept going with it.”
He began as an apprentice and earned his journeyman’s license, then worked his way up to foreman in the company. He’s always excited to see the results of the work his team puts in on a big project.
“My favorite part is going from seeing nothing to seeing an awesome building,” he said. “But I also like seeing my guys that work for me teach. That’s a big part of my job, too, is making sure that the up-and-coming apprentices are learning what they need to know to be able to get to the next level.”
Burley spoke with the Business Journal about what it’s like working for Encore Electric, his favorite projects and his plans for the future.
What is it like working at Encore Electric?
It’s awesome. They treat us well and treat us right, and they let us build a bunch of cool projects. Encore’s a good company in that they don’t just go after just any jobs — we go after the complex ones that are intriguing and interesting. That’s what I like about working here for sure.
What do you do as a foreman?
At the beginning of the job there’s a lot of pre-planning; making sure we have everything accounted for. And then once we get into the nitty-gritty of the project, it’s making sure we’ve got a layout for the guys, explaining what they need to do, making sure they have all the material that they need to get the project done. A lot of it is working with the general contractors, to going to meetings with these guys, managing the schedule, and making sure we stay on schedule to get the job done right. Quality control, making sure things are getting installed properly, the way they should be, so we can keep a high standard of product like Encore likes to strive for.
Sounds like a lot of long days.
Yes, I had 40 hours in yesterday — in three days. It’s not always like that. At the beginning of a project, there’s a real big push to get started, get underground and get everything installed. And then at the end, like where I am right now on the stadium project, it’s a longer day. There’s always some overtime required, but usually we just work a 40-hour week in the middle of the project.
What is the best part of your job?
The cool part of the job is seeing an open field of dirt, man — and then to turning it into a museum for instance, or like we’re doing right now on the Switchbacks stadium project. So a big open field, and then you turn it into an awesome museum that wins tons of awards all around the world. And now we’ll build the stadium that’s pretty iconic to Downtown. Especially it’s cool because it’s in your hometown — it seems cool to see it grow and whatnot.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Starting a job and finishing are definitely the hardest parts of the job. There’s just a lot of prep work you’ve got to get done. But I’d say if you have a good plan put together, the project goes pretty smooth throughout. I mean, there’s always going to be changes and additions that people want to change or tweak a little bit. That’s always challenging when there are changes — but for the most part, if you got a good plan, the job part of it goes pretty smoothly.
What’s been your favorite project?
That’s tough. UCCS — the [Ent Center for the Arts] was a really cool project. That one got my feet wet with being a leader, running my own guys and putting me into the foreman role. It’s kind of what kicked it off. Then I went to [work on] the [U.S. Olympic & Paralympic] Museum, and that one’s going to be tough to ever beat. It was an awesome project. The stadium’s cool too, but … I’d say the museum has to be the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
What’s been your toughest project?
I would say the museum was the toughest. There were a lot of changes — ups and downs. It was such a unique project in that there were no straight walls in it. Everything is architecturally intriguing — random 45-degree angles, super high ceilings in there, lots of levels. Just a lot of complex pre-planning — and building the job was death. More complex than an average project.
What excites you most as a foreman?
I think the most exciting part of our job is when we go to flip on the main breaker, and we’re starting to turn on lights. It’s pretty cool to see those lights come on and see all the systems you’ve been working on — for some projects — for up to a couple of years. Then you turn on that breaker, and you see the power come on. You see lights come on, you see things start to shine, you know? Especially down here at the stadium, you have these high stadium lights. When we turn those on at nighttime, it’s pretty cool to see that work all done.
What are your goals?
I like what I do right now. I’m still pretty young in the trade and I’ve only been there for about eight years. I want to keep running big projects, building more projects. Eventually, I’d like to get more into an office role — like a project manager role — overseeing projects more on the money side of things. … That is maybe a mid-term and long-term plan. That’s about as far as I like to do. nCSBJ