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Travis Fuksa is a Project Manager at Jackson Mechanical Service, an Astra partner company. Travis participated in Orion's six-month leadership development program to gain valuable management training experience and to hone his skills as a leader.

How did you get to your current position at Jackson Mechanical?

I became a pipefitter apprentice at 18 and worked at several businesses before becoming a Fabrication Shop Foreman at a mechanical services company. There, I worked my way up to the Superintendent role. I had some culture fit issues with the company, though: the field techs were always the punching bag, and whatever the project manager said was gospel.

As far as pipefitters go, we have a very demanding job. I’ve been doing it for about 20 years now, so I saw the guys out there breaking their backs daily and then getting blamed for stuff that wasn’t their fault. That’s just not acceptable to me.

Before I came to Jackson, my brother Scott (Vice President of Jackson) would ask me to do some prefab work for them. Every time, Jackson was so appreciative and always had good things to say. You could tell there was a culture difference as far as the two employers, and that’s what got me to come over here. Now, I schedule Jackson’s field techs, communicate with customers and make sure everything is done in a timely manner.

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What prompted you to participate in the LDP?

I didn’t know what to expect, and that was good. If they had told me, “This leadership training is going to dig into you,” I would not have even signed up to be honest.

At first, I thought the LDP was going to be job-specific training. After finding out what it was, I felt like it was going to be hard for me to take something from it because it was totally out of my comfort zone. I’m not a touchy-feely guy. At work, my feelings are not things I think about. I’m not one to sit around and talk about my feelings in general. That’s just not who I am. But I also don’t have the ability to quit something. It’s just not an option for me.

What made the LDP effective to you?

The facilitators are outstanding in the way they read a room together. They could have very easily crossed the line to the point where I became checked-out, but they never did. They would get right up to the line, and that’s where they would stay.

I think we also had an outstanding group of people who were very open-minded. We all worked together so well.

 

How has the LDP changed your approach to leadership?

The coaching skills are probably the biggest thing I use daily. I’ve changed the way I talk to people because of that. I use what I learned in almost every conversation. I ask a lot more questions instead of trying to just get straight to the point for other people. Scott and I, being brothers who work together, had a lot of moments of clarity and really good conversations between us. The LDP has forced us to do that, which we wouldn’t normally do.

One thing I didn’t expect, which happened on the last day, was realizing my inability to reflect. I don’t do that well. I don’t really do it at all. My reflector is broken. That’s something I still struggle with, but now I know I struggle with it, which definitely helps me.

I also don’t like talking about myself because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t like to brag. I know I can always do better. One of the facilitators asked me to rate myself on a scale of one to ten, and at the time, I said four. But I came back to him afterwards to tell him I didn’t know why I said that, and we talked about it. That’s something I’m still working on.

There are a lot of things I realized from going through the program. I’ve actually taken the time to look at the year Jackson has had. It’s been my first time being a project manager, and if I were to write down on paper the good versus the bad from the year, the bad side is actually a super short list.

Learning to reflect has helped me become a lot calmer, a lot more confident and a lot more understanding. I feel better about the job I’m doing now. I have more pride in myself. It’s okay to be proud of what you can do.

 

How did the LDP showcase Orion’s values?

We had a debrief as a group towards the end, and we all reached the same conclusion that it was pretty incredible the way they could bring that many different people from different walks of life together and do what we did. It was impressive.

With Orion putting their money where their mouth is for this training, I realized they really do care about their people like Jackson does. Being in the program and knowing this was all put together by Orion because they want to raise people from within to be better managers and better people, that helped everyone really buy in and go hard at this thing.

About the LDP

The LDP is a recurring six-month program for high performers to develop the leadership skills needed to take on more responsibility in our partner companies. The program pairs skill development workshops with peer triads.

About Orion

Orion is building national platforms in the mechanical service, commercial landscaping and facilities maintenance sectors by creating unmatched growth opportunities for businesses with strong teams and cultures.

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