Andrew Geisert: Onward + Upward

insight

Andrew Geisert: Onward + Upward

Oct 6, 2020

The DAVIS logo was created with the onward + upward ethos in mind. It is both our legacy and our vision for the future. We're interviewing 20 people in '20 to find out what onward + upward means to them (along with some other interesting details you might not pick up on at the jobsite). Keep up with this series to get more insight into the DAVIS team!

Meet Andrew Geisert, Director - Environmental Health + Safety at DAVIS.

We sat down with Andrew (over a phone call) to talk about his role at DAVIS, his near-death experience in a past career, and more! Keep reading to learn about him.

LIFE AT DAVIS

You've been at DAVIS for six years now. Tell us about your role and how you got here.
I was taking OSHA certification classes and I actually met someone in that class who worked in Safety at DAVIS--then I found out that a family friend also worked here, so I picked both of their brains and decided to apply. I started out as an Assistant Safety Manager just to get my foot in the door and tried to let my work ethic prove my worth. Now I'm the director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), overseeing the Safety department, which means I facilitate communication with our executives, develop new programs, and try to bring innovative equipment and products onboard.

What have you learned along the way?
For EHS, I had to learn so much about other project teams. I had to learn project management and the ins and outs of contracts for the first time when I started at DAVIS, and that was pretty much trial-and-error. Once I had the mindset for the other positions involved, I was able to really improve what I was doing.

In construction safety, you can really place what you're doing with the immediate results, which is different than other work I've done. We know that we saved someone from falling or being electrically shocked because of our efforts. I'm still trying to learn as much as I can so that we can stay on the cutting edge of safety, and we've implemented things like outrigger nets and debris netting. We're still trying to improve our efforts to be as safe as possible, so it's constant learning.

What sets DAVIS' safety efforts apart?
Something we've done really well is getting involved with external organizations to build our networks. I'm currently the president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals, and through that I'm connecting with other general contractors, subcontractors, and manufacturers to stay in touch with the latest innovations in safety. I'm constantly doing research and crunching numbers to figure out what next steps we can take to avoid being stagnant--when you're stagnant, others are passing you by.

What do you do as president in ASSP?
I help come up with the annual schedule of technical content and bring in speakers to present and host learning sessions. It's a great networking tool and a way to see how other people are doing things. I've ended up making great connections who I know I can reach out to for any resources or questions.

What's the best memory of your time at DAVIS?
We've put on so many great social events, from picnics to parties--I'd have to say the 50th Anniversary party was the best. That was a blast. It's always great to see the people you work with let loose, and you catch up with everyone you haven't seen in a while.

What I appreciate about DAVIS is that everyone knows you. You're not just a number or another first name. You can feel comfortable talking to anyone in the office, and they feel comfortable talking to you--at any level. It's special to have that kind of open communication.

LET'S GET PERSONAL

What were you doing before working at DAVIS?
I worked for the state government doing health and safety inspections--from food to sewage systems. And I left because I actually had a near-death experience in that job.

Whoa. What happened?
Someone had proposed to build a house on a piece of land, and I inspected the soil to see if a septic system could be built there. During my evaluation, the trench collapsed, and I fell head-first down sixteen feet to the bottom of the trench. After that, all I wondered was how that could ever happen--so I started researching OSHA safety regulations and took classes.

That is intense. Any other horror stories?
No, but while doing that job, I also worked at Babies 'R' Us.

Wait, Babies 'R' Us?
Good jobs were tough to find in 2010, and so I took what I could and worked part time there to make ends meet. I would wake up,go to my 9-5 job, and then work at Babies 'R' Us until 10PM. 

That is a serious grind.
It was tough, but I got past it. We all go through tough times, but it teaches you something. My positive attitude is still a part of me, even after that. I try to see the good side to everything. If you look negative, things will just eat you up inside, so I try to keep that attitude.

What was childhood like?
I grew up in Southern Maryland. Our neighbors would buy two bushels of crabs and we would eat that for two weeks--and we would go out and catch rockfish, striped bass, whatever you want to call it.

What has 2020 taught you? 
It's taught me to think about what's really important to me, and that's familly. My wife and I love to travel, though,and unfortunately we haven't been able to do that.

Any special travel spots?
Last year, we went to Whistler in British Columbia, which was beautiful. It's funny because we went there to ski, but there wasn't any snow when we got there! Thankfully, it's a really popular place for mountain biking and kayaking as well so we got to take advantage of that.

One last question - what does Onward + Upward mean to you?
Always looking for improvement, and being on the leading edge. If you're not improving, you're staying stagnant, and eventually you get left behind.