FEATURED EMPLOYEE: Andy Graf – Field Operations Director, Second Generation Dirt Guy
Growing up, Andy Graf relished the stories his Dad shared about his excavation job around the dinner table. To a young boy with an affinity for Tonka trucks, the heavy-duty equipment and interesting projects sounded less like work and more like a daily adventure with the best of friends.
“Ever since I was a kid I heard about the comradery; your crew becomes your second family,” said Andy. “It’s common in earth work to leave home early and not get back until late at night. Like the military, you form close bonds with the people you work with.”
As a teenager, Andy stopped living vicariously and started joining his Dad on job sites to help out. But even with hands-on experience, once he graduated high school his ideas about the future included culinary school or teaching history.
Curiosity led Andy to enroll in college. But after a brief stint hitting the books, he felt a familiar tug toward the outdoors, working with his hands, and a future that was written in his genes. He accepted a job at Lake County Grading as a laborer.
“I’ve always loved being able to build things,” said Andy. “The ground can change on you quickly, and challenges come up throughout the day that demand a fast response. I thrive on thinking on my feet and take pride in being able to see what I’ve done at the end of each day.”
In 2002, Andy was recruited by a former colleague to join V3 and start a new line in the construction division. The self-described “dirt guy” jumped at the chance to build the department from the ground up. His extensive knowledge, enthusiasm for the work, and bond with his team has proven invaluable.
Today, there’s a blurry line between work and home. Conversations around the table at family functions are rich with shared experiences. Andy’s Dad works in the V3 construction group, his brother is a foreman, and his son has been involved with native restoration work.
One perk of continuing the family excavation lineage? Advice abounds.
“Early on my Dad told me, ‘Andy, we’re not moving dirt, we’re moving people’ which was great advice,” said Andy. “I joke with people that I’m part psychiatrist. It’s important to take time to listen to peoples’ problems and put them at ease. It helps to get the job done.”
That sense acute emotional intelligence and penchant for adventure has served Andy well in other endeavors, too.
“If I had the time and money, I’d travel all over doing mission work,” said Andy. “I went to Haiti for four weeks to help the local people learn how to build roads, and it opened my eyes to the world a little more.”
Whether it’s on a job site, a mission trip, in the office, or at home with his wife and kids, Andy Graf doesn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves and get to work.