75 Stories: John Tarnowski, Project Engineer

2021 marks the 75th Anniversary for Clark Construction Company. To celebrate, we’re using our employee’s voices to explain the impact Clark has made to our fellow teammates, communities, and clients. This is John’s story.

I started my career with Clark the summer of 2019 on the Portland Public Schools.

John Tarnowksi

A close friend of mine, JB (far right) set me up with an interview and I was fortunate enough to be selected as an operations intern. I was very nervous when I discovered I was working with one of the owners of the company, and a highly knowledgeable superintendent, Paul Clark (far left). He immediately made me feel welcomed and assured me that I was in for a tough project; he was not kidding. My nervousness quickly transitioned to excitement after the first week when Paul introduced me to Tom Mata (middle left) and informed me that I would not be spending most of my time in the office, instead I would be Tom’s right-hand-man.

Tom Mata put me right to work doing multiple tasks. In the mornings, I would spend about two or three hours scanning in JSAs and Daily Reports, running stretch & flex, doing head counts in the field, tracking worker hours, creating & processing labor reports, updating 3-week schedules, updating drawings, and all things I anticipated for my internship. I had taken this internship opportunity to learn more about the managerial process of commercial construction, but it was only after I was hired in as a Project Engineer and working my own project at Central Michigan University that I realized Tom had taught me one of the most important lessons in construction, HUMILITY.

Tom taught me many other things as well: construction sequence, safety coordination & application, site logistics, and problem-solving stills. Tom had patience when I did not understand, he never made me feel like I was asking a stupid question, and he always treated me with respect even though I was the lowest man on the totem pole. I have many people to thank for the knowledge I’ve gained and success I have had in my life and career, but Tom taught me the one that I value the highest.

Portland Public Schools project opened on time because of the management skills taught by my team, leading me to where I am today.

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