Everyone wants good, hardworking employees. But Gene Barnes, owner and founder of Gallion Irrigation, Inc., in Houston, also wants employees who are knowledgeable. He wants his irrigation designers to be Irrigation Association (IA) certified and he wants all of his irrigation employees to have a good understanding of soil types and make-up. That’s because he learned this valuable information later in his career and he says it changed everything for his business.
Barnes wants employees to have a technical background so that he’s sure they understand the equipment they’re going to be using, he says. He also wants them to have a good understanding of the biology behind the work they’re doing. Understanding the reasoning behind the work helps the employee to be more efficient.
“You might have a very tight soil so you need a low precipitation rate for that sprinkler,” Barnes says. “If you understand what a tight soil is, because you sat through the IA classes and learned about it, then you can work on to a job site and know right what to do.”
It took 20 years for Barnes to start going to IA meetings but he says that once he did, it was a huge transformation. He doesn’t want others to wait as long. “I thought I was a pretty decent contractor but the IA opened my eyes,” he says. “It changed my life. The IA made me such a better designer and contractor and I had a better overall understanding of the makeup of the soil. The training you get through the IA is top-notch and we want all of our employees to experience that.”