Meet our McFarland Community: Luis Escobar – EHS Specialist & Archery Champ

At McFarland Construction, collaboration is one of our core values. We know that collaboration begins internally by building the right team and workplace culture. Our employees are the building blocks and lucky for us, they all have a great story to tell. Each month, we’ll introduce you to someone from our McFarland Community. This month we’re highlighting Luis Escobar, our Environmental, Health, & Safety Specialist. Luis says construction is in his blood, having been mentored by his father in the construction field since he was a little kid. Luis has overcome many struggles and remained focused on continuing to learn and grow professionally which ultimately lead him into the safety field. He also happens to be an archery champ along with his wife and two daughters (who he freely admits are better than him). Learn more about Luis from our latest interview with him:

How long have you been in the construction field and how long have been on the safety side?

I’ve been doing safety for five years but I’ve worked in Construction, from laborer, foreman, team leader since I was 16. My strength was in pipe welding since that’s where I started with my dad.

Was your dad the reason you got into construction?

Yes, my dad is a pipe welder and worked on large, power and nuclear plants. He taught me at a very young age different areas of construction and I started working on projects at 16 in Puerto Rico. My father taught me to weld as a little kid because he had a shop in our house.

Why did you decide to move into the safety field?

It’s funny, one time I was welding and I burned myself and I noticed the safety manager just wasn’t doing what he should have been doing so I said, I can do his job better. I challenged myself because it was hard for me with English being my second language. I had to study the paperwork two or three times and would be the last person to finish the tests due to the language barrier. My previous boss used to have me translate at all the safety meetings and orientations. He started sending me to the trainings to become certified. Him and my father pushed me to go for it. My dad said “you have the opportunity, you speak English, and you just need to practice, study, and move forward.” He said don’t get stuck like me, you can do better.

What do you like most about construction?

I think it’s in my blood. I really like the challenge and the craftsmanship. I like how you’re able to build something and be part of something of this magnitude. Sometimes when I’m driving around with my wife and my girls, I say look I built that. When we went to Disney Towers, I said to my family look I helped build that building – I did the AC and all the piping. It’s nice to be able to show that.

I’ve heard you and your family do Archery as a hobby, How did you get into that?

When I used to live in Florida, one of my bosses introduced me to it. He gave me an old bow and I started practicing and going hunting for wild hogs. I started getting better and more professional.  One of my daughters was actually having a hard time focusing on reading in school. Archery is 90% about focus and concentration. No matter what kind of bow or how expensive it is, if you lose focus and concentration you lose it. My daughter started getting interested in going hunting with me so I started practicing with her and she really liked it. The teachers noticed that she started being more focused in school. She started getting out of so much technology and more into books and archery. Then her sister started getting interested in it and my wife too. Now, they’re better than me! It’s something that we really enjoy doing together as a family.

We’re part of an archery club – it’s a lot of friends and families getting together to shoot, have a picnic, and have a good time. I don’t see it as a competition but they have tournaments. My 10-year old daughter got 1st place, my 12-year old got 1st, my wife finished 2nd (that was her first time competing), and I finished 2nd in each of our categories.

You’re originally from Puerto Rico, when did you move here?

Since I was 18 and graduated high school, me and my dad would come back and forth from Puerto Rico to work in welding. When we’d finish the project, we’d go back for a few months and come back for another project. After we got hit by the hurricane, the island was bad. I told my wife, I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I wish I could be on my island – I miss my surfboard, I miss my beaches, I miss diving in the Caribbean, and I miss my family. There’s some stuff in life that pushes you to move. In the hurricane, my house was flooded but we were able to repair it. Some members of my family totally lost their houses and their jobs, so I told them I’ll go to the U.S. and you guys live here in my house. They lived together until an earthquake destroyed the house. We have to look at it in a good way because nobody got hurt, everyone is healthy. My dad always said some people would want to be in your shoes no matter how bad you think your situation is.

What do you like most of about working at McFarland?

I really like the support. There’s so much support here that I haven’t seen at any other company I’ve worked at. Everyone respects and listens to each other. If I have an idea, my boss will listen to me and most of the time put it in action or they’ll be honest with me if it’s not going to work and explain why. There’s a lot of companies where you’re just a name and a number and you don’t have an opinion. This is the first company I’ve worked at that really feels like a family, like a community. I also like that I’m able to spend the weekends with my family – work / life balance is so important for me.