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Steve Summers: Reflection on 40 Years at Gray

Time is the ultimate test. To be committed to anything for a short period of time really doesn’t take that much dedication or effort. It’s perseverance and persistence that distinguish the line between something you just pursue and a true passion. At Gray, we are fortunate to have many team members who are truly passionate about their work, and some of those team members have even proven so with decades of dedicated service.


This November, Steve is celebrating 40 years with Gray, so we decided to pick his brain about his favorite memory with the company, how his journey with Gray began, and what has inspired him to stay around so long.


What was your role when you first joined Gray?


I joined Gray in November of 1980 as a field engineer. I interviewed with Gray before graduating from WKU, but they didn’t have any positions available at the time. In the meantime, I went to work for another company that built cooling towers for nuclear power plants. Jim Gray called me on a Saturday in October of 1980 and offered me a job; I accepted, and I’ve been here ever since.


Since your time at Gray, how has the company seen positive growth and change?


When I joined Gray, the company looked nothing like it does today. At that time, our projects were smaller in scope, with the volume roughly 1% of what it is today. So, with the record-breaking revenues and sales plus the complex projects that include our growing service offering that we are seeing today, it is almost hard to believe that it is the same company.


What is your favorite part about being a member of the Gray team?


One of the things that attracted me to Gray was the “Whatever it takes to get the job done” spirit. You never hear anyone say, “That’s not my job.” Regardless of title or position, everyone here does whatever it takes to get the job done, meet and exceed our customer’s needs, and support our team members.


What is the most valuable professional advice you have ever been given?


On my first job out of college, the site manager told me, “When you are out there and you have to make a decision, and there is no one else around to ask, you can’t make anything but the right decision.”  Of course, there weren’t cell phones back then.


What is your fondest memory since being part of the Gray family?


Years ago, when I was first working in the Glasgow office, I was asked to drive Mrs. Gray’s housekeeper, Louise, to Vanderbilt for cancer treatment. Mrs. Gray had been personally making this trip weekly, but on this particular occasion, she wasn’t able to go. Although I didn’t think much of it at the time, over the years, I’ve reflected on how her actions really defined the Gray family values.


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