Kaleb Bumbalough is a twenty-six-year-old track hoe operator on a pipe crew at Southern Site out of the Gallatin, Tennessee office. He may not have decades of experience, but he has learned one life lesson that many overlook.
Choose a Job You Love
It’s been said “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Without hesitation, that’s just what Kaleb Bumbalough has gone and done.
Kaleb started out in construction to help a buddy with a project, and it stuck. He likes being outside, and he likes how today’s challenges are always a little different than yesterday’s. But more than all that, he appreciates the people he works with and he enjoys what he does.
The Little Things are the Big Things
Having started as a laborer, Kaleb is a track hoe operator on a pipe crew currently hammering through four feet of solid rock to get the pipe in the ground. “It takes experience,” Kaleb says, regarding the accuracy needed for digging trenches, “you gotta move a lot of dirt.”
“Little things” are what make one operator better than another. “The stuff that you take the time to do that someone else won’t take the time to do—that’s what makes you a great operator in the long run.”
Operating can be tedious, and it’s one of the jobs where, especially on a pipe crew, you have to stay alert and focused—so much of your team is working in close proximity to your machine. But when your team overlaps with all of your buddies from high school, “it’s like not even coming to work, more like doing projects with your friends. Everything comes naturally.”
Sunup to Sundown
Describing his hometown of Jamestown, Fentress County, Tennessee, Kaleb says “you either grew up on a farm or you wish you did,” and laughs. “The kids who grew up on farms know how much work it is, but for those of us who didn’t, it looks like a pretty good life.”
As Kaleb was growing up, a neighbor who raised chickens for commercial sale took him under his wing and mentored him over the years, teaching skills that prepared Kaleb for work in construction. When the opportunity arose to work full-time in construction, Kaleb regretted having to part ways with his neighbor. “I hated like anything to have to quit working with him,” Kaleb says, “but I said, ‘the only reason I’m leaving is to have a farm of my own one day.’”
Working Without Working
“As long as I’m making a good living and being happy, that’s enough. I just want to do what’s best for me and for the company. I can leave it all behind at the end of the day, and I like what I do,” he points out, “so it’s not much like coming to work.”