In 2016, Greg Bobzien will retire from Granger Construction after nearly 47 years. This is part two of a two-part retrospective. (read part one)
As General Superintendent and Corporate Safety Director – a role he has held since 1994 – Bobzien is responsible for the majority of self-perform manpower as well as overseeing all shop operations and company safety.
It is these advances in worker and jobsite safety that come to mind quickly for Bobzien when asked to reflect on the significant changes in the construction industry since 1970.
According to Bobzien, safety wasn’t operationalized in the industry like it is today; it was more about using common sense. Little to no regulation at the time meant there were a significant number of accidents and fatalities on construction jobsites.
“When I started there wasn’t much in regards to safety,” he said. “Back then, there was no fall protection. Nobody monitored excavations. That’s just the way it was. There wasn’t safety glasses or respiratory protection. It just didn’t exist.”
The Michigan legislature would eventually create the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1974, and Bobzien would witness firsthand the enormous changes to safety in the construction industry throughout his career.
“It’s gone from nothing to off the charts,” he said.
During his time as Corporate Safety Director, Bobzien can point to a notable history of performance, helping Granger Construction become a company widely recognized for its impressive safety record. Earlier this year, his accomplishments lead to Granger leadership renaming the annual company safety award in his honor.
So, after nearly 47 years spent in service with one company, what is Bobzien most proud of? Is it the exceptional safety record? His contributions to the growth of a company that went from having 25 full-time employees in 1970 to 140 in 2016? His mentoring of other Granger employees and construction professionals?
“I’m most proud of being able to serve the people of this company. That’s what I liked. That was my thing,” said Bobzien. “When I was able to help someone with the issues they had, that’s what I liked to do.”
Bobzien continued: “This industry is a tough industry. Being out in the elements day after day. Some people in this industry go through a lot in their lifetime and some of them get off track. It’s really rewarding to help someone get back on the right path.”
When asked for any advice he has for his successors, Bobzien is characteristically straightforward.
“Listen and be fair. Hang in there. You’re going to have good days and bad days, but in my experience you’re going to have a lot more better days than not,” he said.
And if you don’t, there’s always the grocery industry.
The state of things in 1970
- President: Richard Nixon
- Average cost of gallon of gas: $0.36
- Average cost of new home: $23,450
- Average cost of new car: $3,450
- Cost of first-class stamp: $0.06
- Monday Night Football debuts on ABC
- Academy Award, Best Picture: Midnight Cowboy
- Super Bowl: Kansas City defeated Minnesota
- World Series: Baltimore defeated Cincinnati
- Notable Granger project in 1970: Michigan Bell Telephone Building