An avid family man born and raised in Philadelphia, Clinton Cotton, an advanced crew leader based in our eastern Pennsylvania market, has been with Flagger Force more than three years. During this time, he has traveled all around our Mid-Atlantic footprint supporting the company in his role. Read on to learn more about his unique experiences on the job.
Flagger Force: Before you joined Flagger Force, what were you doing? What made you interested in working here?
Clinton Cotton: My wife found the job listing one day on the internet and looked into it. She said, “You should try this.” Before this, I was a machine operator at a meat packing plant, and I just wanted something more challenging. She helped me fill out the application, and it was a blessing that they called me, and I got the interview. Once I got into the class, and they started talking about the job, I found that I liked it. I’ve been here ever since. I’d like to also mention that David Smith was one of the guys that helped push me to get employment here and I thank him for that. Anytime I have a question, he’s always there to help and coach.
Flagger Force: In your own words, what is it like working in the field?
Clinton Cotton: I like it, it’s pretty much amazing. I enjoy what I do so that’s what makes the time go by. When you love what you do, you enjoy the job even more.
Flagger Force: Agreed! What is one of your favorite things about your job?
Clinton Cotton: I like to meet new people—meet new clients and to get familiar with them. This way it’s not so ‘dry’ when you next work with them. Once you get to know clients, it makes your job a little easier. They put a little more trust in you, when they know you.
Flagger Force: How do you handle your pre-job briefs?
Clinton Cotton: I always let people know that we are equal out here and are a team. Team work makes the dream work. I try to make everyone as comfortable as I can and give them a chance to add input and contribute. My main thing when I get a new crew member, is that I’m hands on with them. I show them “this is how you do it” or “this is how you set up your tapers” and help train them. I always give them the typical number of the job as well. This way when they get their truck, they’ll be more familiar and will know more about what they are doing. I enjoy showing the new recruits how to maneuver. I welcome the new people and like to make them feel comfortable in the job. I tell them, “Don’t listen to rumors and judge for yourself. If you want to get somewhere in the company, it’s up to you. And always be safe out there.”
Flagger Force: That’s great advice and we can tell you’re enjoying what you’re doing. What is something you are passionate about?
Clinton Cotton: I’m passionate about my work and I take it seriously. We can talk and joke before we start working, but when we set up, the joking is done and it’s time to be serious.
Flagger Force: What’s it like traveling as an advanced crew leader?
Clinton Cotton: I travel a lot but enjoy the driving. I get to see different parts of Pennsylvania and may even go to New Jersey, or wherever they need me. A lot of people decline those type of jobs, but I enjoy riding and seeing the country side.
Flagger Force: I’m sure you work in a lot of different environments traveling to all those places. How do you handle adjusting to field conditions?
Clinton Cotton: I adapt to it. Because, I know what needs to be done and I try to do it as safe as possible. If people are with me, I try to make them as comfortable as possible—give people breaks in the cold so we can stay warm. I just go and do what needs to get done. Gotta push through the brutal weather.
Flagger Force: Tell us about one of your more challenging days on the job.
Clinton Cotton: I was flagging one day, and because the sun was out and it was coming over a hill, a lady came within inches of hitting me because she couldn’t see me. It shook me up, but I sat down and decided that I needed to be more aware of the road and be safer. You can never relax while on the job, because it only takes a second for something to go wrong.
Flagger Force: What are some Flagger Force moments that make you proud?
Clinton Cotton: Lindsey Sokolski, the assistant branch manager in eastern Pennsylvania, needed somebody to do a favor and she called me. She needed someone to deliver a lock in Scranton, PA, to a Henkels & McCoy, Inc., staging yard. It was a small thing, but important. I jumped right on board and said, “OK, it’s not a problem. I’ll take it.” She thanked me and said she appreciated my help. Another time, someone was needed in western Pennsylvania because they were short-handed in that area, but they couldn’t find anyone to travel and stay there. So I went and stayed until they didn’t need me anymore. I stayed and helped out for two weeks.
FOR FUN I enjoy family trips, going out with friends to different sports events and running and working out, but there is nothing more rewarding to me than spending quality time with my family.
MORE ABOUT CLINTON:
Who do you admire most? My wife because the support that she gives is amazing. If something is wrong, we figure it out together. We’ve been together 31 years.
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? If I could meet anybody, it would be Nelson Mandela. One of the most influential men of the world, outside of being the president of South Africa, he was a highly respected leader.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? If you never take a chance, you never know what you’ll accomplish.
Can you describe yourself in one word? Team-player or reliable.