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“Firefighter,” “Machine Whisperer,” and 54-Year Partner Ed Ramsey Reflects on Tenure at TD

​TDIndustries has seen many Partners retire with lengthy terms of service, but only a handful in TD's history can celebrate more than 50 years with the company. This July, TD is recognizing special Partner milestones and that includes TD's most tenured Partner, Ed Ramsey who is based in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about how TD has changed over time, we connected with Ed to hear about the start of his career, how TD has evolved and what's in store for the future. 

TD - Almost 54 years of service to TD, wow! What inspired you to stay with TD throughout your entire career?

ER - TD has always been a great place to work. They provided a welcoming family atmosphere and allowed me to grow and build a career in a job I have always loved. Opportunity and growth through experience, mentors, training (inside the company and outside to licensing) has kept me on the forefront of the evolution of the industry. And my favorite part, I get to fix machines and systems while interacting with people on many different levels.

TD - How have your roles and positions with TD grown over time?

ER - I grew up on a farm and learned early on how to fix machinery and develop mechanical skills. My Navy training provided in-depth training on steam, steam systems and pumps. I was sent to a training school that specifically covered Boyle’s Law, which gave me an in-depth understanding of how all air conditioners work.

I started with the company on January 28, 1968 as a Service Helper for $2.35 per hour when top pay for a mechanic at that time was $4 an hour. From there, I worked my way up to top Service Mechanic, and around 1980, I moved to TD Mechanical (North Texas Construction) as a Start Up Technician. In this position, I dealt with all the pieces of the build: engineering, application and functionality to make sure that the equipment operated within specifications and code.

I was fortunate to have many mentors along the way, inside and outside of TD. A lot of these folks were experts in their fields and innovators in the industry. I was Startup and Warranty Manager for around 30 years. My job now involves teaching, mentoring and training to help avoid problems on builds by catching the issues in the planning stages rather than fixing them after the build.

TD - What was TD like 54 years ago? What has drastically changed over the decades?

ER - When I started, there were about 145 employees. We had offices in Wichita Falls, Tyler, Longview and Dallas. Jack Lowe Sr. was an incredible man, leader and visionary and his ambition was never to make just a few folks rich, he wanted all of us to make a good living. I think I may be the last employee around with a three-digit employee number! When I came to work, Mr. Lowe kept a picture book with everyone’s name and photo so that he could call everyone by their name. We were all part of the company family and we always referred to each other as Partners. We were primarily a GE Distributorship for air conditioning, and did residential and light commercial work.

In the ’70s, we got the opportunity to do a high-rise multistory office building, the South Tower of the Campbell Centre. That opened the door into large commercial builds and since then, we continue to build and improve in that sector. It gives me great pleasure to drive visiting relatives around the Dallas skyline and point out all the buildings that we helped build. And don’t forget we’ve done four football stadiums, and two baseball stadiums!

We have expanded into multi-markets in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix and Denver. We have built in Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona. We have expanded to include Facilities Maintenance, Multifamily, and Process Solutions, serving high tech like clean rooms and server facilities. I’m confident we will continue to change and grow.

TD - How did the implementation of Servant Leadership affect TD and Partners?

ER -  Mr. Lowe was always looking for ways to improve the work environment and his Partners. There were many philosophies being put forward (I actually took the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People Seminar from Steven Covey himself). Mr. Lowe combined the best of each into a working philosophy of Servant Leadership. In my mind, the definition of Servant Leadership is to provide the environment and the means so each Partner can succeed at his or her job. By empowering Partners, it gave everyone the pride and ownership over their work. As a result, many processes were improved by the people actually doing the work.

TD - Have you ever used your Safety Stop Work Authority ? And why do you believe it's important for any Partner to have that authority?

ER - Yes, I have used it. There are times when I have had to step in to stop someone from doing something in a manner that is unsafe for themselves or folks around them. Safety is everything on a job. Training helps Partners know up front what is dangerous and out of bounds. Once trained, everyone has the responsibility to stop work if conditions are unsafe. The goal is to have zero injuries on any job.

TD - What are you most proud of during your career with TD, and what does your role today as a Production Manager for Construction look like?

ER - Throughout my time at TD, I’ve been coined nicknames like "firefighter" from Harold (CEO Harold MacDowell) and "machine whisperer" from Matt Terry, so it’s been great to be able to jump into a project and help wherever I’m needed. When I was younger, I didn’t always have the knowledge and math to solve problems. As I evolved, I found a new approach in learning, and now have Master licenses in plumbing and electrical to implement the coding necessary to get the job done. I find it very satisfying to use my experience to keep us from repeating errors and have really enjoyed teaching Partners concepts that are the basis of all that we do. Boyle’s Law!

TD - What advice do you have for young people looking to get started in the construction industry and learning a trade?

ER - The biggest challenge I have had in all my 54 years is to stay relevant and keep up with all the current changes. I have seen the industry change in so many ways. Continuous training, great mentors, management that respects talent and develops it over time are all part of the development of a Servant Leadership environment. I have been set up to succeed by many folks over the years.

My advice:

  • Be patient – things aren’t always going to go the way you want
  • Know that you don’t know everything; build a network of specialists in all areas who can guide you into good decisions
  • Be honest and seek the truth in all instances
  • Embrace change – the only thing that doesn’t change is that everything changes
  • Empower people and hold them accountable (support and teach them, but let them develop and grow)