Friday, November 11, 2016

From active duty to military veteran in construction

There are nearly 21 million veterans throughout the U.S. who have made enormous contributions to our country’s safety and security. This Veteran’s Day, EMJ honors veterans across the nation, especially those who are members of our family of companies.
Through our recruiting team’s efforts and EMJ’s recent partnership with Orion International, the family of companies has hired several outstanding veterans who have served in a variety of roles for our armed forces, including the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
Today, we pause to honor our veterans and highlight several extraordinary members of the EMJ team, who share what the transition from active duty to construction duty is really like.


Joe Bethel- Air Defense Artillery Officer, U.S. Army

Joe Bethel, Project Engineer, served as an Air Defense Artillery Officer for the U.S. Army for more than 20 years. He says his three life purposes have been to, “serve our nation, travel the world and build things.” His active duty in the army served the first two goals, but approaching retirement, he decided to pursue the third.

“I was ‘all-in’ after learning about EMJ’s servant leadership philosophy and how closely it mirrors the seven Army values.”(loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage) “Finding an organization that I could grow with— that embraces these principles— was paramount in my decision.”

Mike Williams, Army Corps of Engineer Officer

A company he “could grow with” was the most important component in a post-military role for Mike Williams, Project Engineer, as well. After serving as an Army Corp of Engineer Officer for 13 years, he connected with Orion, who guided him to interview with several companies— one of which was EMJ.

“Professional development was really important to me because you get used to people investing in you when you’re in the military,” Mike says. “EMJ believes in developing their leaders and gives you all of the tools you need to develop. I’ve only seen that here and in the military.”


Brian Tiehen- Airborne Combat Medic, U.S. Army

EMJ’s culture and mission also appealed to Brian Tiehen, Quality Manager, who served as an Airborne Combat Medic for almost 9 years. He became interested in construction through his mentorship under his uncle, who owned a hospitality and commercial plumbing company, which led him to his current role.

“When traveling with the military, you miss home, but you feel like you’re surrounded by family. I wasn’t getting that feeling with my previous jobs,” Brian says. “At EMJ, I feel like I can really dig in and be part of something here, and I look forward to this road I’m on.”


Shawn McDonald- Ranger, U.S. Army

Shawn McDonald, Lead Superintendent, agrees. After serving in the 82nd Airborne Division and as a Ranger for the U.S. Army for 4 years, Shawn began working construction while attending college.

The training he received in the Army created the mindset that he “could go over a brick wall, under it or through it.” Shawn says the Army gave him “hard work, self-motivation, discipline and team work that he applies daily to his career at EMJ.”

These are just a few stories of the outstanding servicemen and women who make EMJ great. There are more than 40 veterans within our family of companies, and their positive characteristics immediately stand out during the interview process and continue to shine year after year.
“Nothing gets these guys off-track,” President and CEO Burt Odom says of our veterans. “Not only do they promote teamwork and collaboration within their teams, they practice servant leadership and display the positive culture that EMJ is constantly trying to achieve. Our company is lucky to have them.”
With tried-and-true traditions, each United States military organization has values that can guide companies to higher standards of excellence and servant leadership. Our veterans are the influencers of these values through their leadership and attitudes daily.
On behalf of each and every employee within the family of companies, we thank every veteran who has served our nation, and EMJ hopes you will join us in celebrating their service.

EMJ Veterans:

Ray Alamo
Joe Bethel
Ken Boyd
Jerry Campbell
Chris Fisher
Gary Gibson
Craig Jordan
Robert Mazza
Shawn McDonald
Thomas Smachetti
Andres Soriano
Richard Stone
Brian Tiehen
Matt Uebler
Mike Williams
Chuck Wilson
Charles Woodward

Are you an EMJ veteran and want to share your story? Let us know on Facebook, or email us at