Darrin Wenzel – WCW Member Profile

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Darrin Wenzel

Darrin WenzelName: Darrin Wenzel
Position: Supervisor, Distribution and Collection Scheduled Maintenance
Organization: County of Strathcona, Sherwood Park Ab.
Born and Raised: Born February 14, 1967 in Mannville, Alberta. I was raised and went to school in Vermilion, Alberta. Growing up in Vermilion I had a lot of fun as a kid, I fostered quite a few hobbies and interests there that I still enjoy today.

Education/Training

Post high school, I moved up to Edmonton as a young man and apprenticed as a welder. I worked my way through apprenticeship working for a host of different industries, everything from the oil field, to trailer manufacturing, the agriculture industry, custom truck shops, and even commercial and industrial development.

In those days, you had to go where the work was. It was primarily my dislike for the oilfield and living out of a suitcase however that led me around to different aspects of the work.

Probably the most satisfying work as a journeyman I had was working as the lead welder for a custom truck shop. I got a great deal of enjoyment out of building custom bumpers, roll bars and push bars etc. I had a fair bit of freedom in that position to create custom requests and see them to completion, painted and mounted on the customers vehicles.

In about 1990, I decided to try something different and ended up having a curiosity for the water and wastewater field. I went to school again, at NAIT,  Westerra Campus in Stoney Plain. For the summer Co-op placement program I was hired on at Strathcona County. I finished the program at Westerra and was asked to return to the County in a laborer position…..the rest is history.

History in the industry and as a WCW member

I’ve think I’ve been fortunate to have a long term career with Strathcona County.

My history here has given me the chance to undertake many different aspects of work in the Distribution and Collection areas.

I’ve pretty much done everything from Main line CCTV work, Flusher/vacuum trucks, valve and hydrant work, residential sewer back-ups, On call duties, water and sewer repairs, booster stations, pump houses, reservoirs, lift stations, lagoons, storm water systems, low pressure sewer systems and force mains etc. The list goes on to many others jobs and responsibilities, such as dealing with the public, my own staff, as well as the day to day work with other departments and vendors.

This variety has always been one of the greatest aspects of this work, it has kept interested and coming back…….. with a smile, everyday.

I would guess I’ve probably been a member of the WCW for probably at least the last 15 years. The publication has been always been a great read, keeping me in the loop of new technologies, advancements in the field, and the goings on in our other sister provinces.

Typical day

Paper work, problem solving, working to meet deadlines, adjusting priorities (both mine and my groups), scheduling, counseling, answering phone calls from front end staff, meetings, and trying to ensure my foremen and direct reports have all the tools and supplies they need to succeed.

I have to say that I work with a great group of people day to day, we have a very strong team that works together well…..it makes me want to keep coming back every day.

Job Satisfaction

I truly enjoy working with and building strong teams.

I also enjoy this level of supervision, working closely with the foreman, operators, Infrastructure operators and laborers keeps me close to the field and at this time in my life, that feels like a good fit for me.

Main challenges

I think it goes without saying, that every job or role has certain aspects that are more challenging and/or less appealing than others. Dealing with residents, staff, budgets, deadlines, and several other issues day to day can be as equally rewarding as sometimes frustrating. Learning to take the good with the bad and approaching every challenge fairly and equally has always served me well.

Career Highlights

I have quite a few good memories and have made some personal accomplishments that I am proud of. I will say though that I have never strived for any notoriety in the industry. I’m both surprised and content in the fact that I’ve managed to stick with this career and work for the same municipality for the past 20 years.

I have several mentors that I feel I owe acknowledgement:

My father and step father for showing and helping me find my passions and build a decent work ethic.

My mother for teaching me to have compassion and understanding.

Don Mackinnon, Al Strachan, Lyle Clarke, and Eric Tirschmann are but a few for supporting me, being my sounding boards, and freely offering me sound advice and friendship over the years.

My wife, because dealing with me for this long probably deserves some kind of special reward in itself….. 🙂

Advice

I can say that in my time working for Strathcona County I’ve had the chance to see the department and the community grow over the past several years. Working as a laborer, operator, lead hand, foreman and supervisor has given me many insights and experiences in the municipal world.

Looking back, I can’t say that I regret where this career has taken me. I’ve built some strong friendships, working relationships, and met a great many people that have either mentored me or that I’ve simply admired through out my career.

My best advice on having a successful career would be to build strong working relationships from day one. In any industry, to have the support and trust of the people you know is critical. Anyone who fosters a combination of a good work ethic and builds and maintains strong working relationships both above and below title or pay scale is highly likely to succeed.

Time away from work

Not working usually…J…I have quite a few varied interests that usually keep me occupied. At different times through out the year you could find me enjoying quading, fishing, hunting, playing baseball, working at a random project in my shop, or nose deep in a good book.

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