With mixed emotions, we announce the retirement of General Superintendent Gary Niekamp from H.A. Dorsten, Inc. after 47 years of service. While we hoped that Gary would continue with us for a few more years, for personal reasons, he has decided to step down from the H.A. Dorsten family — and he will be sorely missed.
Gary started with us in 1975 as a laborer and carpenter. He ran his first job in 1981 in New Castle and worked his way up into the General Superintendent’s position, where he oversaw our crews and helped keep our work sites moving.
Chief among his challenges over the years is ensuring that a job is done on time and under budget and securing the labor we need to achieve that. One of the most challenging projects he remembers was at a build in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The project started over Thanksgiving, shut down for a few weeks in winter due to weather, and started back up again with a hard completion deadline of Christmas the following year. “Working out of town,” Gary says, “you really don’t know the subcontractors.” Ensuring a smooth build and on-time project completion required detailed planning, labor management, late nights, and dedication.
“Gary is very hands-on, very detail-oriented,” says H.A. Dorsten President Sean Dorsten. “It makes him a great superintendent.”
Gary’s decades of experience have been a massive asset to our team over the years. “My greatest contribution is probably my knowledge of how a project has got to go together and the steps to get a project from paper to dedication,” says Gary. “That’s something you can’t teach in school. Every job is built differently. The project managers here are very good, and I’m able to weigh in every week to show them how to get a project from start to finish.”
His advice to colleagues is to be aware of and moderate their responses while interacting with owners, contractors, inspectors, coworkers, and others. “If there’s a negative event or an episode,” he says, “how you react can magnify the situation. And after you have a negative reaction or explosion, it takes a long time to mend that relationship. I tell my guys that every day.”
We asked what kept Gary with us for so many years, and he said it was simple: “These are good people — understanding and cooperative. If they weren’t good people, I wouldn’t have stayed. I don’t think anybody would.”
Gary plans to spend more time with his family, including his grandson and granddaughter. He enjoys taking out his grandson — his “little buddy” — on his boat, where he acts as second-in-command to Grandpa’s captain.
During Gary’s transition into retirement, he shared his knowledge and expertise with Jerry “Bear” Schlarman, who has been promoted to General Superintendent.
From the H.A. Dorsten family to yours, Gary — we wish you all the best and thank you for your many years of service.
Thank you for everything.
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