When J.P. Byrd was a little boy his Dad often had to call for him to come inside after dark. J.P. was always in the same place – his sandbox – playing with the toy dozer and motor grader his father had bought him. Now more than 40 years later, that fascination and love for big machinery still puts a bounce in J.P.’s step.
“I never dreamed I’d grow up to be a man and get to play in a ‘sand box’ and get paid for it.”
Byrd is one of Haile’s top operators of big equipment. He’s been onsite since 2010 and before that worked at a neighboring gold mine. “It’s not like work to me because it’s so much fun.”
Fun that comes with risks and responsibilities. “You have to stay on top of your game.” And J.P. says the safety culture at Haile is unlike anywhere else he as worked. He says they strive to be “our brother’s keeper,” always keeping a watchful eye out for safety hazards and our teammates at Haile. “There is a good comradery here.”
Comradery that goes beyond the workplace. When J.P. was recently sick and out of work for two weeks his teammates bought a card and wrote words of encouragement on it. That card still sits on J.P.’s fireplace mantle at home. “I can’t tell you what that meant to me.”
J.P. says he also feels that kind of care and support from the Haile management team. “I’ve never had management like this. They keep you informed. They know your name. They fight for you.”
J.P. is married with four children and four grandchildren. He loves them dearly and smiles when talking about them. But this Haile big equipment operator sure sits up straight in his chair when talking about work. “Mining gets my engine all jacked up!”