It is with a heavy heart some of us old timers bid a final goodbye to a friend and colleague James Dillard. He was with us from the very beginning, and crucial to our coming out of our infancy safely and helped us on our path to healthy growth and longevity.
I got to know James in the early to mid-90’s at when I hired him at a previous company as an engineering technician. James was a quintessential old school company man. He always did more than was asked of him, it didn’t take long to realize that he knew a lot more about testing, inspections, construction and project management than was required of his current assignment. He knew what needed to be done on a project and simply just did it without being asked or told to do it. When we started Building & Earth, James was one of the first to come work with us, Robert, Jeff, and I were very happy and relieved to have him here on the team. He worked here from June 1999 until he retired due to poor health in March of 2012.
There were so many things that we are grateful to him for as the company grew, such as getting certified to do roof inspections, passing the CWI exam to provide structural steel inspections, project management and the most important task – finding and hiring technicians to staff projects. As I come from a mindset of “if we are not picking up work everyday, we are going to starve.” He realized quickly someone had to cover the projects, and on his own, started making calls, placing ads, interviewing and hiring people. Whenever we had something new and different come our way, somehow James would be one to take it on. If it stood still for 30 seconds, he could find an ASTM, AWS or an appropriate standard to test and inspect it by.
Once due to extenuating circumstances I asked him to go from Birmingham, AL to Wichita Falls, TX. He left within 24 hours and stayed there for months until the project was completed. I could always count on James, nothing fazed him, and I don’t think I ever saw him get overwhelmed. He was also pretty good about telling me what to do when he felt I needed to be told, and I actually listened to him.
James was very funny, could and would talk (loudly) nonstop – it was known that he would follow you to the porta-potty, and stand outside of it, and keep talking without a break. I did not mind listing to him, because it was usually funny, interesting or he was saying something worth listening to. He even had a compelling story about a mishap with an ex-Governors dog, but it’s probably best to let that “sleeping” dog lay. He built and maintained many meaningful relationships in the field and the office. He was very sharp, intelligent and well-read. He was a loyal husband an amazing father and grandfather.
Without a doubt Building & Earth greatly benefited from his service and leadership. I have the utmost respect for the man he was and the life he lived.
Thank you and R.I.P. my friend, you will always live in our heart.
– Deepa Bhate, CEO – Founder