By Sara Geer
Master Precaster Loretta Bodi’s strong mathematics background is a valuable asset for Gainey’s Concrete Products.
While everyone in Production and Quality School Level II – Technical was groaning and gritting their teeth through the mathematic equations, Loretta Bodi, projects development manager at Gainey’s Concrete Products in Holden, La., was grinning from ear-to-ear.
Math has always been Loretta’s favorite subject. Fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in math from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La., she knew she wanted to do something other than teach. In the midst of job hunting, she came across an opening at Gainey’s Concrete Products that introduced her to a career in precast concrete.
“When I landed a job interview with Lisa and Greg Roache (chief operating officer and president, respectively), they thought I was overqualified for the job and knew I was still searching for other career opportunities,” she said. “They hired me for a two-week temporary position to work on a few projects. Two weeks came and went, and here we are 11 years later.”
Loretta worked in several different departments before taking her first PQS course in Austin, Texas. She asked to take the course soon after the quality control manager at Gainey’s left. No one else in the company had taken PQS Level I or ACI Concrete Field Testing – Grade I to fill the position.
In addition to “being in heaven” in PQS II – Technical, she also enjoyed PQS II – Production. Barry Fleck, CEO of A.L. Patterson, taught the course on patching and repair and Loretta had a proud moment when Fleck asked for a volunteer to do a real repair on a catch basin.
“None of the men volunteered in the class,” she said. “It took this girl right here to stand up and volunteer. And, I must say, it was one beautiful repair!”
Loretta’s husband, Jarrett, who joined the company in 2009, chose to take the courses as well. His favorite class was PQS II – Quality Control. It helped him understand the science behind why each test and check needs to be done. He is now working in the quality control department at Gainey’s.
They often refer back to their course notes while working on difficult calculations or projects and refresh their knowledge by watching relevant webinars. Loretta said she also calls on past instructors and other precasters and suppliers she has met during her coursework.
“Just a couple weeks ago, I was working on center of gravity calculations,” she said. “After about two hours of pulling my hair out, I pulled out my PQS II – Technical binder and found the way to proceed.”
Both are thankful for the financial and moral support of Gainey’s management in backing their decision to complete the Master Precaster program. She said for precasters on the fence about taking courses, it should be an easy decision to want to continue bettering yourself and learning more.
“If you have an employer that supports you, it’s a no-brainer,” she said. “Jarrett and I are thankful that Lisa and Greg believed in us and provided this support.”
For more information on Precast University and the Master Precaster program, visit precast.org/precastuniversity.
Sara Geer is NPCA’s internal communication and web manager, and is managing editor of Precast Inc.