Employee Spotlight: Construction Cost Data Rock Star

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An interview with Joseph Kelble, Senior Engineer, Mechanical Engineering at Gordian

Whether it’s on stage wailing on the guitar or at the office crunching cost data numbers, Joe Kelble rocks. Joe has followed his dreams around the country and lives by his own rules and code. His training, tours and trials have taught him a lot about life and given him the expertise and the patience to teach others. In our interview, Joe explains his extensive experience using RSMeans data, how he maintains his passion and talent for music and why it’s so important to stay positive and continuously improve.

“Providing a consistent, defendable product for our estimating, procurement and consulting customers is the most important thing. If they succeed in their projects, we also succeed!”

Joseph Kelble

Can you explain your career transformation and success with Gordian?

I’m from Middlesboro, Massachusetts. Prior to Gordian, I went to school for HVAC and I got my first real job as a Service Tech for a few local Mechanical Contractors. I moved on as a Field Engineer, Design Engineer, Project Manager and then Construction Manager for an Energy Service Company (ESCO) for around 10 years.  I was then employed by Tufts University, where I had been a contractor for several years, to oversee and run the Engineering Labs. At Tufts, I mostly worked with grad students on their thesis projects.

After a few years, I relocated to Arizona and worked for a nonprofit company in the Tucson area that builds affordable housing and charter schools. I moved on to work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons building a maximum-security prison and later serving as the Facility Engineer. I then went to work for Raytheon Missile Systems as the HVAC Supervisor responsible for overseeing 4.3 million square feet of labs, production clean rooms and offices.

I started working as a temporary Cost Researcher with RSMeans in 2014, prior to their acquisition by Gordian later that same year. I was already familiar with RSMeans data by this point, having used it in my previous positions. Over the last five years I have held several titles at Gordian including Engineer, Facilities Engineer and now Senior Engineer/Editor. I believe my broad background has enabled me to grow and help our customers and my team members understand the data and products.

Briefly describe your job and an average day.

As one of the Engineers my primary responsibility is collecting data for both the estimating and procurement sides of the business. I oversee the Mechanical Division and I’m the backup for many other divisions. which requires daily contact with our many customers regarding all types of questions from “How do I use the data?” to “Where can I find a task?”

Like most of the Engineers here I teach seminars and I’m responsible for a few seminar work books. Several of our engineers (including myself) work on consulting projects. Currently about 60 percent of my time is spent on an ongoing project for custom data for NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) as well as other smaller projects.

What do you like best about your job and career path?

Every day brings new challenges, whether it be a customer question or detail for a consulting project. One of the best things about working at Gordian is the ability to advance in my career with the support of my managers and the growth afforded by being a Fortive operating company. I also feel very lucky to be able to work with our Sightlines teams, my peers at Gordian and possibly working on projects with the Fluke team.

Gordian's data team with the Fluke Team

Explain how the work you do impacts our customers.

Providing a consistent, defendable product for our construction estimating, procurement and consulting customers is the most important thing. If they succeed in their projects, we also succeed! Sometimes it’s the little things, like just starting a conversation.

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not at the office?

I have seven children and five grandchildren (also two step children and two step grandkids) that keep me pretty busy. We camp as much as we can. We recently moved within a few miles of one of our favorite beaches, so we go to the beach often.

Employee Spotlight: Construction Cost Data Rock Star 1

I am into cars, trucks and motorcycles but I’m sad to say the garage is currently empty. The most fun I have outside of work is music. I play guitar, sax and bass. I recently built a small stage in my basement —about 18 feet by 6 feet.

In the past, I played in local and nationally known bands, such as the Regulators out of Los Angeles. We had the opportunity to play with Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Northeast leg of their tour.

Employee Spotlight: Construction Cost Data Rock Star 2

I have also been lucky enough to be part of a pilot for VH1’s “Living the Dream” with the band Wyatt out of Boston. One of my best friends worked for VH1, which didn’t hurt. When I was living in Arizona making a record with the band Mercury Transit, we were interviewed and filmed for a rockumentary on music in the Tucson area. I have been to many Country, Rock and Blues shows including seeing Styx seven times one summer as they were filming a documentary.

What inspires you? Both in your career and personal aspirations.

It makes me feel good to be the best I can and stay positive. I always try to remember that there is someone smarter and more talented than me out there. That makes me strive to be better and refuse to settle.

What is your favorite part about being an Engineer at Gordian and why would you recommend working here?

Gordian gives everyone the opportunity to take their career path wherever you want. If you’re satisfied with your current position, that is fine; do it well. But if you want to move up the ladder, there are many opportunities throughout the company.

How do you define success?

People define success different ways. For me, it is not all about money or possessions. Every day I ask myself two questions, “Did I do something good today that impacted one of our customers, a team member or family member?” and “Did I learn something new?” If I can answer either of those questions with a “Yes,” then it was a successful day.

Can you give us a piece of advice that you would give others in your profession?

Listen before you speak. Try to learn something new every day. Be honest and true and strive to be the best you that you can be.

Learn more about RSMeans data from Gordian.