Area supervisor (AS) Justin Zellers oversees a large portion of the northeast including New Jersey and New York. Recently he stepped up as the acting field manager in eastern Pennsylvania, taking on those responsibilities while maintaining his duties as an AS.
Flagger Force Hi Justin, thanks for your time today. Would you mind sharing what made you interested in working for Flagger Force?
Justin I was looking for a job and this came across. I figured it would just hold me over. It turned into something else. I love it here. I love the atmosphere, traveling from place to place, meeting new people, and assisting.
Flagger Force Before joining Flagger Force, what were you doing?
Justin I worked at Temple Hospital sanitizing and cleaning the Operating Rooms (OS). I’ve seen a whole lot of interesting things, especially working in the OR. I worked there for 12 years. My mom still works there. I know a lot of people at Temple.
Flagger Force We’re glad you’re with us now. What’s it like working as an area supervisor?
Justin It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s frustrating at times. But overall, it’s a great position. You’re able to help the field employees. You’re able to help the clients. You’re able to help the motorists. I actually cover three states and all three states are different with their traffic controls.
Flagger Force How do you manage three states?
Justin Very carefully. I read the books just to keep myself up-to-date on what varies from state to state. A lot varies. New York and PA are similar, but Jersey is a whole other monster! For example, a normal 107 setup in Pennsylvania is six signs. A normal flagging setup in New Jersey is 12 signs. A Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) is required on every state road in New Jersey. Just like Delaware, there’s a New Jersey load package. We add the extra signs and stands to the trucks that we send to Jersey on a regular basis.
Flagger Force As an AS, you are a critical field employee point of contact. How does that responsibility shape the AS role?
Justin It shapes the job by the responsibility of receiving those first calls from employees in need of help. If an area supervisor doesn’t receive that first call, we might not know of a situation, and we won’t be able to respond to it. I might be able to fix something right at that moment in time, or I might have to call somebody else. We can then make sure proper procedures are being followed.
Flagger Force Good explanation. What’s it like working with different clients?
Justin Clients are all working either on gas, electric, or any type of road construction, so they’re pretty similar in that way. The expectations vary from client to client as do the setups, so that’s one main thing that I have to consider when working in the three states. For example, in New Jersey, most of our jobs require us to work with state or local police. The client usually calls for the police, but we have to let the police know where to sit on the job site.
Flagger Force You recently stepped up to fill the role of field manager for the Eastern PA office. Can you describe that experience and how it differed from your typical day?
Justin I did step up for Ricardo Cardenas while he was out for three months. I was acting field manager for Northeastern PA, as well as still covering my AS duties. I would receive my normal phone calls and follow my normal routine as an area supervisor. But I would also receive calls from the other area supervisors in Northeastern PA and assist them with what they needed. It was a lot thrown at me at once, but I was able to settle down into that position and not let it overwhelm me.
Flagger Force How did you handle it all?
Justin What settled me was delegation. I would always try to handle everything myself. Then I talked to a few other people, and they said if I needed anything, reach out to them. I took the advice and reached out to my colleagues. I’m grateful for their help. That experience helped me grow personally and professionally.
Flagger Force How do you approach coaching field employees after conducting a work zone observation (WZO)?
Justin My approach is to see where their mind was at—how they thought the job site should be setup when they did the planning. Then, if it wasn’t set up properly, we work together, and I coach them on how to arrange the work zone properly. The majority of people are very receptive of what we teach them. They want to learn the proper ways.
Flagger Force That’s great! Do you leverage our ITZ app as an AS?
Justin I do use the ITZ app to help with my position. I get a lot of New Jersey questions, specifically through Chat messages. If somebody messages me that they aren’t sure about how to do something for an upcoming assignment, I’ll be able to start at their job site the following day, or whenever that job site is running. If we have a job that ends early, we tell the employees to check the Jobs stream for available work in their area.
Flagger Force ITZ is a helpful resource. What’s one of your favorite job site stories?
Justin A favorite job site story would probably be pulling up on a job site and having it set up 100% correct, and then you could just sit there and talk to the employees, see how their day is going. Ask if they would need a bathroom break or if they would need to sit down for a few minutes. Getting one-on-one time with field employees helps us learn if there’s anything else that an area supervisor would be able to assist with.
Flagger Force That sounds like the perfect day. Tell us about one of your more challenging days on the job.
Justin A challenging day would be…I would be in Bucks County, PA assisting on a job site. Then receive a call from someone working in North Jersey or New York; either needing signs or having something happen on site, which would require me getting out there.
Flagger Force I know we’re all looking forward to the end of COVID-19. What is the best training you’ve received for your position?
Justin The crew member training, work zone leadership was a great help, and onboarding. All of the training classes helped me to get where I’m at today.
Flagger Force What is something you are passionate about?
Justin I’m passionate about my job, helping people on a daily basis, and waking up every day and coming to Flagger Force.
Flagger Force When you are not at Flagger Force, what are you doing?
Justin When I’m not a Flagger Force, I’m with my kids. I have two little girls: seven and three. Otherwise, you can find me camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, etc. I love doing anything outdoor related.
More about Justin:
Who’s somebody that’s made a difference in your life?
My kids. They made me grow as a person. Once they were born, I had to step up, because they would look up to me.
If you could meet anyone in history who would it be?
The Philadelphia Eagles of the 60’s and Flyers of the 80’s.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep moving forward, and don’t let anybody drag you down.
Describe yourself in one word.
How does being awarded the employee spotlight title make you feel? What does it mean for you?
Being awarded the employee spotlight makes me feel good about myself. Makes me feel I’ve been doing my position correctly and I guess other people also think that too. It’s an honor.