Darrin Wenzel – WCW Member Profile

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

Darrin WenzelName: Darrin Wenzel
Position: Manager, Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Services
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. I have been working with Strathcona County for over 20 years now, my career in the water and wastewater industry began with them. I am proud to say that I have worked my through the organization from the ground up, though now some of my memories are probably considered more like ancient history than valuable information.

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.

The WCW magazine 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

My typical day involves interactions with my supervisors on day to day operations and issues, leadership meetings, dealing with development variances, dealing with approvals for scheduled and emergent construction work and associated purchase order approvals. I deal regularly with customer issues, both in person and through offering advice to supervisors and operators. I invest time daily to ensure what we do and how we do our work stays relevant within the industry, and that we are serving our community effectively, efficiently, and safely.

Job Satisfaction

I enjoy that my past experience benefits us as an operational group. I feel that I am better able to support my staff and our programs through my relationships with the work being done in the field.

Main challenges

I am admittedly a blue collar guy, always have been….my challenges generally involve those tasks that take me away from that environment….Public speaking and going in front of Council are my biggest personal challenges.

Career Highlights

I have always been really proud of the work I do, and grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me, but my career and what I’ve done within it have only really been to support my other passions – like being on the water, in the wilderness, and with my family

I have worked with some fantastic individuals over my time in the industry, I would like to think I’ve adopted bits and pieces of the best of many people I’ve admired over the years. Jeff Hutton, Al Strachan, Lyle Clarke, Don Mackinnon are just a few…To this day I still use a purple fine point Pilot pen in honor of my old supervisor Al Strachan :).

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.

Stay honest; remember that your job is to be the champion for the end user, not yourself. Don’t try to do it all on your own – use and seek out the advice of others, build solid, trusting working relationships at all levels of wherever you work, and in the industry. Enjoy what you do, it’s not worth it otherwise.

Time away from work

I enjoy kayaking, fishing, and generally just being on the water alot…maybe because I am an Aquarius. I love hunting and being in the wilderness, spending time with my family, and spending time with my Blue heeler, Daks. I like working with my hands, and spend a fair bit of time in my shop….

Our Partners AWWOA MWWA NTWWA SWWA WCSAWWA WCWEA WCMSSA