NWP Employee Spotlight: Dana Barlow

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NWP Employee Spotlight Series:
Illuminating Stories from the People of Northwest Pipe

At Northwest Pipe Company, our team members are the foundation of our success, and we take pride in our diverse and talented workforce. This series shares the inspiring stories and career journeys of employees from different departments and locations. In each installment, we interview one of our team members and delve into their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments, and discover why they choose to build their career with Northwest Pipe Company.

Spotlight on: Dana Barlow

Dry Cast Production Supervisor | Salt Lake City, UT

In his dynamic new role at the Geneva Pipe and Precast plant in Salt Lake City, Dana Barlow is responsible for the overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of the dry cast department’s production processes. He was recently promoted to this position after serving as the plant’s Safety, Lean, and Environmental Coordinator. Over the course of his eight years with the Company, Dana has worked hard to advance his career, while fostering a culture of safety and collaboration, and nurturing a strong sense of pride within the Geneva team for the quality work they accomplish together.

How did you find your way to your current role?

Before joining Geneva, I was building high-end log cabins in Northern California. It was a very enjoyable job but required a lot of traveling. After my wife and I met, we decided to move back to Utah so we could put our roots down. My cousin was working at the Geneva St. George location and asked if I would be interested in applying. He really liked it and thought I would, too. I went in for an interview, and the next day, I got the job. I started as a laborer, cleaning up after the builders. Within my first two years, I gradually worked my way up to a builder, then a lead in the wet cast department, and then a backup quality control inspector.

In 2018, my wife and I moved to Salt Lake, where I was offered the full-time quality control inspector position. Within five years, the QC department grew from a one-man operation to a team of myself and two other inspectors. In June of last year, I decided to apply for the plant manager position. I lacked some necessary experience for the role, so I was instead offered the Safety, Lean, and Environmental Coordinator position. This turned out to be a great step in my career—safety and lean are two areas that I wanted to develop more to prepare for a future plant leadership role. After about a year in that role, I was recently promoted to Dry Cast Production Supervisor.

Looking back at when you first applied – what made you want to join Geneva Pipe?

I wanted something steady in a place that I could call home. I was looking for consistency, plus my cousin really enjoyed working here. That’s really what flipped the switch for me as far as stepping into Geneva to apply.

After eight years, what makes you want to stay?

It’s the opportunity for growth. Over the last eight years, I’ve worked hard and taken every chance provided to gain experience in different roles and grow with the Company. Ultimately, my goal is to become a plant manager. I want to go through the steps that give me the right training, education, and experience to run a plant the right way and be successful in the role.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Every day involves multiple walkthroughs of the plant. Sometimes, those walkthroughs present an opportunity to fix things in the moment. Because of my background in production, I’m a very hands-on kind of guy. If I see an issue, whether safety or process-related, I’ll pull the appropriate people together or have conversations with the leads to see what we can do to address it.

As a department supervisor, I also have daily reporting duties, including tracking inventory, inspecting finished products against orders, and measuring performance targets. I also handle personnel-related tasks like scheduling and approving employee time, conducting ongoing safety training, interviewing applicants, and training new employees.

Dana checks in with production team members to provide guidance, address production issues, and ensure smooth and effective operations in the Dry Cast department.
What do you look forward to each day at work?

Hands down, it’s got to be the people and the way we look out for each other. Some of our guys on the floor are just funny guys, and it’s almost like life doesn’t get them down. When they see something’s getting a little stressful, they throw a joke out there that helps lighten the mood. And when they see somebody struggling with something, they don’t just stand back and watch—they get right in there and help.

In the past, I’ve always separated my personal life and work life. I’ve never been one to go to work looking for friends. But it’s safe to say I’ve made some really good friendships since I started here.

What do you find most exciting about your job?

The most exciting thing about my time at Geneva has been the opportunity to work on these outstanding projects, stuff that I didn’t even think was possible. After putting a lot of hard work and sweat in the shop building these fantastic structures, to go out to the job site and take a look at what we created. That’s absolutely huge. It gives you a lot of pride in your work to know where the product goes, the purpose it fulfills, and how it looks in the ground.

Describe a favorite project you’ve worked on so far.

The most fascinating project I’ve ever been a part of was the American Fork River Bridge. We built huge 44-foot span arch bridge segments, did architectural wall paneling—stuff no one at the Salt Lake plant had ever done before. To see the way everything came together, from building the precast components to transporting them to watching the cranes set them in place, it was all very impressive.

Which of the Northwest Pipe Company ACT Values (Accountability, Commitment, Teamwork) resonates most for you in your role?

Accountability and teamwork really stand out to me, but teamwork is number one. When someone is struggling, and another person jumps in to give them a hand without even being asked, that’s good teamwork and a great morale booster.

Auditing for safety was a key part of Dana’s daily walk-throughs as Safety, Lean, and Environmental Coordinator; ensuring the safety of the Dry Cast team and production area continues to be a primary responsibility in his new role.
What stands out to you about the culture at Northwest Pipe Company?

It’s the way the Company treats employees. I’ve noticed it more the longer it’s been since Geneva was acquired in 2020—NWP has made it clear that as a Company, it is committed to giving individuals the tools they need to make their job as safe as possible, and to giving them as many opportunities as possible to grow their careers.

What advice do you have for someone starting a career in your field?

It can be slow, depending on where you start. But be consistent, stick with it, and work hard. I promise it pays off.

Is there someone at Geneva who has inspired or motivated you along your career journey?

Justin Fraughton (Multi-Site Operations Manager) has been somebody I‘ve looked up to since I walked into this place. He’s been a great mentor to me, sharing stories of where he started and the things he went through to get to the position he’s in now. I don’t think I could ever repay him for the advice he’s given and the ways he’s helped me along my journey here.

Name one thing that always brightens your day outside of work.

The one thing that always brightens my day, no matter what kind of day I had at work, is my daughters. There’s just something about being a dad. I have two daughters—my oldest is 2 ½ and my youngest is actually a month today.

What do you like to do outside of the plant, and how does working at Geneva Pipe help you maintain a work-life balance?

I love fishing—bass fishing is my favorite, but I also enjoy shoreline or ice fishing for trout. I just got back into playing softball in a co-ed sports league. We just started the new season, and it’s great to go and play some softball on a Tuesday night, blow off some steam, and come back to work Wednesday morning feeling like it’s a brand new week. I also like watching sports, and I’m extremely excited that Utah just got an NHL team!

Regarding work-life balance at Geneva, the regular schedule here compared to previous companies I’ve worked for has been great. The consistency of knowing what time I get to work and what time I get off has made a huge difference to me, especially since I became a father.