Get to know a Mason Superintendent, Randy Thor, who has spent 20 years at JP Cullen.
What caused you to get into your profession?
My father was a union electrician working commercial projects in the Dubuque, Iowa area. During my summer vacations, he would take me to his job one or two days to show me what he did and how buildings were built. He introduced me to many of the workers on each project. Every summer, I would run into some of the same workers during my site visits with my Dad. To this day, I see them from time to time, and they ask what projects I am working on. They have become lifelong acquaintances. I believe this is what ignited the flame for my career in construction.
In 1978, with two years at UW Platteville under my belt, I took a summer job with a nearby commercial contractor as a mason tender. I must have impressed the owner of the company. He saw my potential and talked me into making masonry construction my career. I started my mason apprenticeship two years later and here I am, 40 years later. Time flew by and I would not change a thing. I am proud of all the projects I have had a part in.
What is your proudest achievement?
I have two achievements that I am very proud of. It is hard for me to select just one. The first is having the opportunity to be part of the JP Cullen masonry crew on Epic’s Campus 2 project. The Campus 2 project was awarded the Building Stone Institute’s 2012 “Tucker Award.” This award is given to North America’s most prestigious architectural design and construction project with the use of stone masonry.
The second is having the chance to be part of the JP Cullen masonry crew on the Dubuque, Iowa’s Mississippi Convention Center. This project was awarded the Masonry Construction’s 2004 “Project of the Year” award. I had great crews on both of these projects.
Who has been most inspirational to you in your career?
Carl Osterhaus has been the most inspirational to me in my career. He was my mason foreman early in my career. He had great leadership qualities, good vision, planning skills, and patience. He was a fantastic mentor. Whenever I see him out and about, I always give him credit and thank him for teaching me what I know about masonry construction. I know he is proud of me.
What are your hobbies or something you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, and cruisin’ with the truck. Every summer, my wife, Kathie, and I go to a chain of five lakes near Danbury, WI for a few days. Years ago, my parents would take our family there every summer. Now, it is nice to continue the tradition. Kathie and I both like catching pan fish.
My wife and I enjoy spending time and spoiling our grand-children. Kate is four years old and little Connor is one. They both have become HUGE Green Bay Packers fans!
Recently, I customized a 1951 GMC truck which I purchased 27 years ago. It only took 24 years to talk my wife into letting me customize it. Now that it is complete, we go to local “Cruisin Nites” during the week, and custom car shows on some weekends. It is a real beaut! It draws a lot of attention and awards. We also have a ton of fun with it.
What is the funniest moment in your career?
Very early in my career I was working on a food store renovation project. The job site superintendent was a hard head, yeller type. This guy always gave the impression of being the macho, hard driver boss-man. He may have been creating the impression, but rumor had it that he had a weakness: a dreadful fear of mice.
While working near him one day, I noticed he and another worker were in another room looking at a chopping block table. The room was dark. By some twist of fate, I saw a feather duster with a wood handle on a nearby shelf. I thought to myself, “O boy! O boy! Here’s my chance!” I took the feather duster, and from about 30 feet, I whipped it across the floor. By some miracle, it went right between his legs. As it landed, I yelled, “RAT!” He let out a blood-chilling, death scream and ran to the back of the room, crashing through a set of doubled doors, running down a long, dark hall, ending up outside. Needless to say, I was on his list for several months, but to this day, when it crosses my mind, it still puts a smile on my face.