In 2019, Ben Morales was a utility coordinator for a global EPC firm where he oversaw the relocation of all the overhead and underground utilities associated with the construction of an Arizona freeway.
“I was involved in the upfront design, land procurement, coordination between the utility and Arizona Department of Transportation, procuring contractors, and managing the work” recalls Morales.
As Morales looked to the end of the project, he knew his next assignment would be in Texas, Michigan or Canada.
“My wife and I have three boys who at the time were 2, 3 and 11 years old, and I wanted to stay in Arizona” Morales says. “A recruiter called and said MasTec was looking for project estimators; I became interested when I learned about MasTec’s size and capabilities. They were one of the largest EPC contractors in the nation, and I knew they would fit with my career goals.”
Morales soon interviewed with MasTec, and they told him there was an opening with their subsidiary EC Source Services in its Mesa, Ariz., office for someone with Morales’s skills. He “couldn’t help but jump on the opportunity.”
According to Morales, a typical day as an estimator has him arrive early in the morning and dive into one or two projects. The process is very detailed and requires an in-depth analysis from engineering to the final cost. As an estimator, he is creating a work plan and coordinating with operations to ensure a timely and financially competitive approach.
“Project planning is a huge part of being competitive in our markets,” says Morales. “We look at subcontractors to handle different scopes of work and choosing the best option can take hours of coordination, especially when there are millions of dollars on the line; everything has to line up to deliver a successful price.”
To successfully prepare a project plan, Morales works his phone and email, analyzes engineering drawings, uses mapping tools to study parcels, interviews the client about the site, and coordinates his findings about labor and equipment with his operations team to vet the package he develops—his work leads to a final review and approval by the executive staff.
“What I love about the job is dealing with businesses across the nation and every element of the work from safety to foundations,” adds Morales. “I’m breaking it down to a micro level, really understanding every element down to a few hundred dollars, so we can present a macro-level view to our execs.”
Morales’ interest in construction began in junior high school where he had the opportunity to learn metal fabricating and woodworking. In high school, his teachers tapped him to be a project manager for the construction of a park for a non-profit in his hometown of Wenatchee, Washington.
“In high school, I was managing a team that created signage and constructed sidewalks, and it really turned me on to project management as a career,” recalls Morales.
After high school, Morales earned his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Central Washington University. The work Morales now does at EC Source Services, he says, causes him to look at things in his personal life with finer detail, too.
“Whether it’s a project around the house or buying a car, my mindset is breaking it down and analyzing it,” remarks Morales. “EC Source has helped me grow in my professional and personal life.”