The Legacy of a Gray Site Manager
At Gray, our team members are family. The company began as a family-based business that was committed to applying a family atmosphere to its culture. Today, this trend continues and has grown to over 1,000 team members all of which have differing backgrounds. This is what makes us unique. The people at Gray are more than just coworkers, they truly become extended family.
Gary Trussell was a staple in our family. For 16 years, Gary was a light in the lives of the people of Gray, adding to everyone he met. Sadly, he passed away last year. At the time, he was involved in a complex manufacturing project.
Gary was a committed member of the Gray team who served as a site manager. He traveled the country, helping build our nation, and was a vital part of numerous projects over the years. But Gary’s life was much more than just his work; he was a man of faith and was dearly devoted to his family. Gary was not what you would call a preacher, but he was full of spiritual wisdom.
“Time slowed down a bit when you were in such a moment with Gary, and you wanted more of these lessons in his slow Alabama drawl,” says Stephen Gray, president and CEO.
He was a storyteller and a wonderful writer; these were his natural talents. Gary would often tell stories, or write emails, that focused on the big picture. He liked to challenge others to think about life and consider cherished values. His Jewish faith was the basis for such subtle lessons.
“Even with all of his technical skills, his great work background, and all of his accomplishments, Gary is best described as a master mentor,” says Joe Alford, director, Field Operations.
“Gary was one to tell stories, but he would rarely tell just one,” explains Bradley Opell, senior site manager. “His stories were more like parables, and each one came with a lesson that he was trying to impart to us.”
Planning Pays Off
“As site managers we must ‘think safety’ and create an atmosphere where our teams put safety and quality of life first,” said Gary. “The responsibility for creating that atmosphere lies with the Gray site manager as well as our site teams. Together, we must strive to lead by example.”
Gary was fiercely committed to his work and set an example for those around him by the way he approached each day. He truly believed in Gray’s culture of safety, and he lived daily with this as his first priority.
“He was methodical in the way he approached planning for a project. When you walked into a meeting with customers, designers, and engineers, it was likely that Gary was the most technically intelligent and certainly the most prepared person in the room,” says Alford.
“When my phone rings, it’s usually not a good thing,” says Bill Carey, director, Safety. “But when Gary called, it was different. Even if it was a routine lift, he would call to talk through preliminary planning. Gary would always ask ‘what might I be overlooking,’ and this is coming from a guy who had more years’ experience than I have on the planet.”
The project he was involved in at the time of his death required the installation of a massive truss system. This truss was 220’ long and was required to be erected in one single lift. This was a very complex and difficult operation that had dire potential if team members failed to plan and execute properly.
The actual lift of the truss system took about an hour, but the intricate planning for this process required more than 100 man hours. Despite Gary not being there for the lift, his dedication to safety and planning allowed the lift to take place without any incidents.
Gary Trussell was more than just a site manager. He was a valued member of the Gray family and a person who truly lived and loved every single day.
“He was a constant optimist,” says Alford. “His trademark phrase was ‘It’s a Great Day to be Alive.’”
“His love for God, family, and the people he surrounded himself with was unwavering,” says Opell.
“Gary would always take time to say, ‘I want you to know, I really appreciate the work you do,’” says Carey. “He didn’t need to do that, as I was just doing my job, but that was the kind of guy he was.”
In life, Gary put people first, and on the jobsite, he held safety as the highest standard, and that was never more evident than with the final impact he made on his final project, even after he was gone.
“You know, Stephen, when we live our core values, it sets us apart as a company. We put on our hard hats, our steel toe boots, and PPE, but we never take off our core values. That’s what makes us special as a company.” – Gary Trussell, site manager, Gray.