Grading and Excavation Contractor Magazine

Reader Profile: Scott Rackham

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Today’s construction industry often calls for diversification not only into new service areas but new ways of providing those services. Such has been the experience of Scott Rackham, vice president of underground operations for Weckworth Electric Group in El Dorado Hills, CA. The company serves as an electrical design/build subcontractor for small to large construction projects. Rackham oversees all of the company’s underground operations. He brings to the table 34 years of experience doing underground excavation for other contractors. Rackham decided to merge with the electrical contracting company to start a new division that does dry underground utility excavation and installation of power, cable, and gas lines.

“I like dry utilities because to me it’s much easier to work with,” says Rackham. “I grew up doing sewer, storm drain, and water work. Dry utilities are not as deep, they don’t require fall protection, and you’re not dealing with pipe bigger than 6 inches in diameter.” The company services the commercial and industrial sectors with plans to move into residential subdivision work as well.

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What He Does Day to Day
As he spends his days running and organizing the underground operation, Rackham is building the company’s new division from scratch. “We are building an operation that will be fitted to deal with the new world of construction,” says Rackham. “The needs we are seeing are very different than the way things have been in the past. Completion dates have accelerated. General contractors get projects not just on the price of their bid but if they can meet the deadlines needed by the owners. In the past, the building didn’t start until site work was completed. Now as soon as they cut access roads and finish building pads, construction on the building begins and they call in multiple contractors at the same time. This brings in materials, labor, and equipment running over each other. Our workspaces are smaller because of this and we can’t always use conventional equipment. We have to use smaller equipment like mini excavators and skid steers. Although we have larger equipment that we use as well, our smaller equipment is used on all projects. We need an arsenal of attachments, variable-sized buckets, hammers and compactor shoes for the hammers, compactor wheels, augers for drilling street lights with multiple-sized augurs, and more. All of our equipment big and small has to be fitted with variable attachments and we have to be able to move into an area at a moment’s notice. We are designing this new division in Weckworth Electric Group to more than handle these challenges.”

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What Led Him Into This Line of Work
Rackham grew up in the construction sector. “My dad was a plumbing contractor,” he says. “We did a lot of sewers, water, and storm drains. I learned to run equipment at a very young age.” Rackham went to school to become an architect but when he finished, “I found out quickly I didn’t like being indoors or cooped up in an office for very long,” he says. “I like being in the field working and training people and being outdoors, so I became a general engineering contractor and worked with both wet and dry utilities. It has worked out well for me and I enjoy it. I will probably never stop.”

What He Likes Most About His Work
Rackham says he likes the people with whom he works. Additionally, “in my line of work, projects change so I’m never in just one place,” says Rackham. “We move around, so things don’t get old.” He also enjoys the fact that now he can work outside most of the time. “I guess I’m still that same kid who always played in the sandbox with his Tonka toys,” says Rackham. “Now my sandbox and Tonka toys are just bigger.”

His Biggest Challenge
Rackham says when he was operating his own smaller business in California, changes in laws and regulations proved to be his biggest challenge, so it made sense for him to align himself with a larger, established company. He says he’s known the Weckworths for almost two decades and the fast-growing company would give him a new challenge of a more positive nature. GX_bug_web

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