NWP Employee Spotlight: Horacio Villafana

Collage of Northwest Pipe Company products and employees working.>





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: Horacio Villafana

Supervisor II – Mills/Pick-Up | Tracy, CA

Horacio has been building his career in pipe manufacturing at the Tracy plant for 15 years. As the Mills/Pick-Up Supervisor, he runs the welded steel pipe production line with the help of his skilled team, overseeing processes from mills to hydro testing. Horacio’s department supplies the rest of plant with the pipe they need to successfully complete projects to engineering specifications.

Horacio Villafana, Supervisor II - Mills/Pick-Up | Tracy, CA
Horacio Villafana, Supervisor II – Mills/Pick-Up | Tracy, CA
How did you find your way to your current role?

Before NWP, I worked at Save Mart and Rancho San Miguel (grocery stores) in the produce department. I also spent a year working in agriculture irrigation which involved changing the water supplies across tomato, corn, alfalfa, straw, and wheat fields.

I decided to work here because I was looking for a better opportunity and, honestly, a better paycheck. I was also interested in learning more about the process of manufacturing. I started in the Tape Wrap Department spraying the primer on the pipe. Then, I worked a short time in set-up and pour as well as in the yard in the Verticast Department (which produces reinforced concrete pipe).

From there, I went to Quality Control (QC), trained to be an X-Ray Tech, and after a few years as QC Clerk I became QC Technician and the department lead. Today, I’m the Mills/Hydro Supervisor. After 15 years, I’ve stayed with the Tracy Plant because I enjoy what I do and learning new things.

What do you look forward to each day at work – what keeps you coming back?

I continue to return because every day is different. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow. It does help having coworkers that make the day fun.

What do you find most rewarding or exciting about your job?

I find it rewarding when my team is successful and we hear that we did a great job. Success for us is when products pass QC protocols and when the product requires very minimal rework.

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

One of my favorite projects has been one that was in my “backyard,” as it made it easier to explain to friends and family what we do at NWP. It was a water transmission project with mostly 42-inch and some 24-inch pipe. We manufactured nearly 40,000 feet of pipe for the project, which was installed in the outskirts of the town in which I live.

Which of the ACT Values (Accountability, Commitment, Teamwork) resonates most for you and why?

I would say that the one that resonates the most for me is Accountability. The reason I feel that is because, in my view, it is the starting point for both Commitment from the team, when we take responsibility for our actions/mistakes, and Teamwork, when we help each other out with any issues.

Horacio stands inside a large-diameter Verticast concrete pipe manufactured at the Tracy Plant
Horacio stands inside a large-diameter Verticast concrete pipe manufactured at the Tracy Plant.
What would your advice be for someone starting a career in your field?

The advice I would give someone starting any career is to be a “sponge” – take in as much information as possible. There is so much opportunity to grow.

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

Getting home and seeing my son’s smiling little face and him asking how my day was. He’s a very silly boy that just turned 7 years old.

What do you like to do for fun?

Outside of work, I spend a lot of time with my son and enjoy building Legos with him or just by myself. Also, I build some model kits and puzzles—you know, anything to keep my mind moving and using my hands. I love to watch motorcycle and car racing (Moto GP, Indycar, Formula 1, and recently Nascar) and go to the race track at least twice a year.