Mario Perez, Systems Technician & Welder, talks about his winding path to TRS and how he’s happy he found a home with the company.
Position: Systems Technician & Welder
Location: Mount Olive, New Jersey
TRS Employee-Owner Year Started: May 2020
Specialties: Welding, computer numeric control (CNC) machining and milling
Certifications: NIMS, American Welding Society
Education: Associate in Criminal Justice from Rowan University; Associate in Applied Science from Salina Area Technical College; currently working on a Bachelor’s in Construction Management from Rowan University
Service: Currently in the New Jersey National Guard, going on deployment from January to December 2024
Military Rank: Staff Sergeant
Family: Fiancée and two daughters (11 and 4 years old)
TRS Group: What single thing have you been most proud of during your time at TRS?
Mario: It is a great feeling to be an essential part of the TRS team. At the Pohatcong Superfund site we welded almost 200 casings, many more than 200 feet long. The project really gave me some insight into what TRS was about. The company has experts in different fields who have come together to remediate difficult sites. It is pretty cool to be a part of that team.
TRS: What was your first project at TRS?
Mario: I did a week or two in Rochester, New York. Under the direction of Sean Fournier and Steve Agostine, I helped with demobe. Pohatcong was my first long-term project. I was there for about a year and a half. After Pohatcong, I went to projects in New Jersey, Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana and Alaska.
TRS: What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
Mario: My TRS coworkers. There is not a single person that I don’t like. It’s satisfying coming to work knowing that I get along with everyone. We just find common ground right away.
At the other places I’ve worked, there’s always that one person that is hard to get along with. It’s not like that here. Everyone is willing to mentor you. Coming here, I knew my welding role, but I didn’t know much about the environmental industry. At TRS, a lot of experienced people are willing to teach you.
I’ve learned that there are two types of people in the field, or in life. There are people that don’t want to teach you anything because they’re envious or scared about your advancement, and then there are people that want to teach you and help you grow. At TRS, all I’ve found are people that want to teach you.
Every time I’m doing something, I remember the person that taught me. I’m always grateful for that. The most satisfying part of my job is my coworkers and learning from them.
TRS: What field of work did you come from before this?
Mario: I was a journeyman welder. Basically, I was a welder in a truck. The company I worked for would tell me where to go. I would go repair something around the Philadelphia area and come back to the shop at the end of the day.
Then the opportunity came up at TRS, so I said I would try it out, and it ended up working out for me.
TRS: When did you start welding?
Mario: When I joined the Army in 2014, I took the ASVAB test to see what I was qualified for, and then they gave me a list that included trade specialist. I thought it was a good opportunity to shift gears. And they promised to give me certifications that I could use in the outside world. To me, that was enough said. You get certifications to use in the civilian world and the Army stamp of approval. That’s a win-win situation.
I came from the banking industry, where I was a financial advisor. I sold mortgages and investment plans. We sold packages that people didn’t really need. It wasn’t for me.
I needed a change in career, so I decided to see what the military had to offer. At the time, I was not interested in going to college. The military gave me a sense of duty and commitment. It gave me a different occupation that ended up giving me a foot in the door at TRS.
TRS: What attracted you to TRS?
Mario: What enticed me about TRS were the job benefits, a welding opportunity, and it was local to New Jersey.
I was contracted for a year with full benefits for Pohatcong. It slipped a little over a year and I asked Chris Thomas (Director of Operations) if I should start looking for another job. He asked if I was interested in learning the industry. I said I was and TRS kept me on. I’ve been learning the industry ever since. There are so many more things for me to learn. The opportunity at TRS is there.
There’s also the feeling that I’m doing something good. It feels good when I tell people that I’m doing environmental work.