Gabe Guevara, Systems Specialist, talks about how his time in the Army and working in wastewater management helped prepare him for a career in thermal remediation.
Position: Systems Specialist II
Location: Tampa Bay, Florida
TRS Employee-Owner Month & Year Started: June 2022
Specialties: Operations; wastewater management; process control
TRS Group: What single thing have you been most proud of during your time at TRS?
Gabe Guevara: At the Montgomery site, I was able to work the short weeks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, helping us get the project going sooner. I’m glad I got to contribute in that way.
I also had to do a cable change on the site, and I was kind of nervous because I was new. It was my first job in the last 10 years where I wasn’t the manager. I’m a capable worker with a Wastewater Class A license, which is not a very easy thing to get. I was able to shut the system down, do what needed to be done and get everything back up safely and properly – hopefully, a pretty good first impression.
TRS: How has the job been going so far?
Gabe: It’s been going great. It’s cool that I finally got to come up here to Salem and work with Sean [Fournier] because he’s my direct supervisor. TRS is a company where almost everyone works from home. I was here for almost a year before I had met him. He’s awesome.
Coming up here and getting to see more of the process is great. My first job was the Pohatcong demobilization and that was a beast. I started with that and then I went to Montgomery, but they had already done all the drilling and the liner was already set. There were a lot of steps that I didn’t see. So I’m now putting everything together. I’ve gotten good feedback from Sean and others.
I like the fact that every site has different challenges and setups. It keeps me going. I’m not a fan of monotony. That was the one thing about wastewater that wasn’t that great. For the most part, everything was the same old, same old.
TRS: So, this must be exciting new times for you then.
Gabe: Yeah, I would say so.
TRS: What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
Gabe: It’s the challenges. Every site has its own challenges, and every site is different. Whether it’s the weather or the soil or whatever, it’s always different. You’re not going to just walk in and have this cookie cutter formula. You must improvise and really pay attention. It really keeps your brain going.
TRS: Was it tough adjusting to the travel of TRS as compared to your previous jobs in the wastewater industry?
Gabe: I was ready for it. I was in the Army for a total of 12 years between active duty and reserves, so it’s not hard for me to adjust to things. I feel like I’m at my best when things are being thrown my way fast and I’m in constant change.
TRS: What’d you do in the Army?
Gabe: I started off as a mechanic and worked my way up to sergeant in just over two years, which is pretty quick. Then I did recruiting for three years. Then I thought I wanted to do computers, so I reclassed to IT and hated it. I changed from that unit back to a transportation unit and went back to what I knew.
While I did that, I was an operations and training NCO [non-commissioned officer]. When you’re in the Army, just because you go in as a mechanic doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to do all the time. You’re going to do whatever they need you to do. I was even a driver’s training instructor, the Army way.
TRS: So you were training troops to drive Humvees and tanks?
Gabe: Humvees, trucks, 5-ton cargo trucks, even bigger trucks – training troops on how not to get them stuck and what to do if you do get them stuck. We had them drive through all types of terrain.
TRS: That’s kind of how TRS is. Do you feel like you have to be a jack of all trades?
Gabe: Yes, absolutely. I had to weld not too long ago. I hadn’t welded in a while, but it needed to get done, so I welded.
TRS: What attracted you to the environmental remediation field?
Gabe: I was kind of burned out on the roofing job, so I was on Indeed and the job popped up as a match. I started to research it and noticed it was similar to wastewater. It sounded interesting. It was similar, but different enough that I thought it sounded cool. I looked up what was involved in the job and couldn’t find much about it. The few things that I did see seemed pretty cool. I submitted my resume and got a call the next day.
I went on the TRS website and read some Employee Spotlights. [Field Services Manager] Steve Pistoll’s bio and interview said he had a wastewater background.
I talked to my wife because it involved traveling and she agreed that it sounded like a good opportunity.
I just feel like coming in, everybody at TRS has been great – welcoming and helpful. We had Hurricane Ian that came through Tampa and Bob Poulin, Sean, Jeff, Melanie and others reached out and asked how they could help and checked in on me and my family. I feel like it’s a great company with a lot of great people. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things and feel like with this company, it’s definitely a special place.
Literally from day one, from the first interview, it just felt right.