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October 2008

Making the Grade

Where Are They Now:
Joey Green

   
Information about the Masonry Industry
Green is shown constructing his latest masonry project — a lean-to storage shed built off the wall of an existing building to hide equipment from public view.

When I last wrote about Joey Green, the year 2000 had been the busiest year of his life. He had graduated from the masonry sequence at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss., started his own business and married, with the year being far from over. Shortly thereafter, he appeared on the cover of a masonry trade publication. His career as an up-and-coming mason was set.

Today, Green is 10,000 feet above the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and 300 miles from shore. As a sub sea engineer on a Transocean Deep Water Drilling installation, Green works 12 hours on and 12 hours off, 14 days on and 14 days off. He works on the well control equipment, preventing blowouts, escaping gas and explosions.

Information about the Masonry Industry

I had expected Green to be the successful owner of a masonry contracting company, and he was. How he ended up on an oil drilling rig is a story worth telling.

For three years, he owned and operated Green's Masonry & Associates. At various times, he employed six to seven masons and 10 to 15 laborers. Two bridges, two interstate overpasses, and overpass extensions were major contracts for his company. More than 300,000 bricks were required on each job. At that time, because of the growth of the company, Green took on a partner. The next major project, among many others, was a 10,000-square-foot hunting lodge with seven fireplaces that required brick, stone and tile.

While the project was successfully completed, the partnership needed to be dissolved. In 2004 Green cut ties with his partner. His own personal residence was under construction, and his wife was pregnant with their second child.

To get back on his feet financially, Green worked for six months in Chicago, laying brick through the winter.

"It's funny how life works sometimes," Green says. "While we were working on one of our bridge projects in 2002, a fellow drove through looking for work. I hired him. I guess he appreciated the work at the time and experienced the quality of work that we were doing. He said to me, 'Joey, if you every need work yourself, give me a call.'

"Of course, I called him and told him I was the one that needed work this time. J.R. said, 'Pack up your truck with tools and come on up.' Twelve hours later I was layin' brick in Chicago.

"After six months, I got home for Christmas," he continues. "As I was getting ready to head back to Chicago, my daughter said to me, 'Daddy, please don't leave any more.' That was what it took to get me out of the masonry trade, at least for the time."

New horizons
Green had a friend who told him he could get him a job on an oilrig. Because of the pay and benefits, he thought he had to do it.

When the company saw Green's work ethic and realized that his engineering studies at the University of Southern Mississippi (prior to Pearl River C.C.) would be advantageous, they put him into their Fast Track program after just three months on the rig.

Like most masons would, Green likes the responsibility of working in his own department, with his own tools and less supervision.

In the future, he sees himself promoted to working the rigs off Venezuela and Trinidad, 28 days on and 28 days off. He envisions working with the company that sub-contracts with BP and Exxon for 20 years. "Considering my family, the benefits are just too great," Green says.

Information about the Masonry Industry

Green (left) is pictured with the Health, Safety and Environment Advisor for the Venezuela / Trinidad sector, Matthew Clark (right).

Green continues to work part-time as a mason and envisions doing it full-time again after his "drillin' days."

"My passions in life are building and producing, and masonry is a big part of that," he says. "I still get a lot of jobs because people know me and the kind of work that I do. Because of my schedule, the jobs I do these days have to be done in seven to 10 days. It's usually repair work or specialty work — stone work, retaining walls — projects that can't be more than eight feet high and would require more people."

Although the lure of good wages, locked-in medical insurance and company stock options will keep him in the oil drilling business for possibly 20 years, Green still has the desire to own his own business again.

"I learned a lot of valuable lessons from my first entrepreneurial experience," Green says. "The next time, I'll know to tend to my own business, depend less on others, and not carry so many eggs in one basket.

"I will always consider myself a mason by trade. I still love laying brick. It is still my passion," says Green, who lives in Hazelhurst, Miss., with his wife, Heidi, their daughter, Shaylin, 7, and their son, Turner, 5.

Editor's Note:

"Where Are They Now?" stories focus on the progress and successes of individuals who were previously featured in "Making the Grade."






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