10 Questions for Drew Blain
Happy Pride Month! To celebrate, we’re highlighting LGBTQ+ voices from the Northwest Pipe team with interviews discussing their career journeys, inspirations, and what Pride means to them.
10 Questions for Drew Blain
As Assistant Sales Associate at our ParkUSA location in Houston, Texas, Drew keeps up with projects from first Salesforce quote to finished packing slip, handling all the necessary details in between so that Project Managers can focus on the logistics of each project. Achieving the goals of project success and client satisfaction requires a team effort, and, as Drew says, “It’s always a good day if I make one or two coworkers smile.”
1. What is your job title and how long have you been with Northwest Pipe?
Assistant Sales Associate and I started back in December of 2021 with ParkUSA.
2. Describe the journey leading to your current position?
Before joining ParkUSA, I had worked in the service industry for about 12 years with the same restaurant all over Texas, from Grapevine to Galveston. After COVID-19 started shutting everything down, the restaurant industry changed dramatically for the worse: short-staffed and over-occupied. It was a challenging summer for Galveston tourism. After opening back up, people flocked to the island destination. Keeping up took a huge toll on my mental and physical health. So, I stepped out of the career I had built for myself and changed my surroundings. I ended up being referred by a friend to my current position as an Inside Sales Associate with ParkUSA.
3. What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
The most exciting thing about my job currently is that I get to work with a group of people with sharpened communication skills. This makes for a very easy and pleasant work environment with little stress. Everyone is here to help and do so effortlessly, supporting me to grow into the most beneficial role to the team.
4. Name two things that always brighten your day— one at work and one outside of work?
At work: getting to prepare my lunch in the kitchen at the office. This is saving me money by not spending on expensive and crowded lunches out.
Outside of work: going to the gym after work. It’s conveniently located on the way home and gives me a chance to let the rush hour traffic die down while I work on my physical and mental health.
5. Which of the Northwest Pipe ACT Values (Accountability, Commitment, and Teamwork) resonates most for you in your role and why?
The ACT value that resonates most in my role is Teamwork. When I first started, I would have drowned in “not knowing what to do” if everyone around me didn’t have the patience and willingness to help.
6. Name a current or historical LGBTQ+ trailblazer who has inspired you and why?
Learning as much as I have about the LGBTQIA+ past, I cannot help but be grateful that this interview is being conducted and shared in a corporate setting. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that the Supreme Court officially recognized the right to marry/tax benefits for a human who loves another human of the same sex. Imagine living in a world where you are not accepted as an equal human by the people who are supposed to protect you. Still, to this day, I fear holding the hand of the man I love in public.
My heroes are those who preceded me in the time that America was still finding out that we (LGBTQIA+ individuals) were here. The Stonewall Riots (1969) opened the door, and for that door to be opened, many had to lose their rights, their lives, and the ones they loved. I can’t imagine the pain they endured to pave the way for this month to be recognized.
7. Name someone in your life who inspires you and why?
My mother is the strongest person I know. As a kid, I wasn’t aware, but as I got older, I realized the sacrifices she made for me—working two or three jobs, single from my abusive father—and still, she taught me the most important thing in this world, which is love. That is power and strength: “Heroes are not born, they are forged in darkness.” –The Watcher (Marvel’s “What If…?”)
8. What advice do you have for individuals entering your profession?
It’s going to be very jumbled at first. Give yourself time to repeat the process and let it become second nature, as anything new you have tried before. The key is getting your hands in the process as much as possible. Keep communication open and honest—you can’t know something you never learned. So, be open about the tools you need and someone will surely help you get your footing in the right place.
9. One of the most challenging moments for LGBTQ+ individuals can be coming out. From your experience, how can we best support those struggling to be their authentic selves?
While supporting someone who is struggling, it’s important to be mindful of our language. Refrain from the words “I understand.” No one knows 100% what another person is going through. Also, we are all people, and we all want to be treated as equals, but we do not like it being pointed out that we are different. This is especially true when the only difference between us is who we love—this is different for everyone.
10. How do you celebrate Pride, and what does it mean to you?
Pride for me is a representation of everyone before me who has fallen and lost everything due to fear or hate. Their suffering allowed the term LGBTQIA+ Pride to be a part of the American vocabulary. I stand up for them full of PRIDE: Passion, Respect, Integrity, Determination, and Excellence.