NWP Employee Spotlight: Nicole White
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: Nicole White
ParkUSA Group Sales Manager | San Antonio, TX
As Group Sales Manager, Nicole White is responsible for leading the sales efforts for all of ParkUSA’s precast water technologies and infrastructure components manufactured at the San Antonio plant. Her team includes six project sales and customer service representatives who work closely with customers to spec and quote products for projects across Central and West Texas. Nicole’s focus is stormwater quality, but she also oversees sales of stormwater drainage products, water distribution systems like meter vaults and backflow preventers, and wastewater pretreatment solutions including grease and oil interceptors and car wash reclamation systems.
Tell us about your career experience – how did you find your way to your current role?
I first joined ParkUSA in 2011 as an Assistant for Water Distribution at the Houston location. After two years, I left for the oil and gas industry and worked as an account manager for a company that sold gaskets and seals used in the field. I did that for four and a half years before shifting gears to join the school district, where I worked in the Assistant Principal’s office at my daughter’s junior high school. Working with kids and seeing them grow and progress through high school was really rewarding.
In 2020, I was ready to pursue more in my career, so I called Park because I had always enjoyed working there in Houston. I started as an assistant in the lift stations department. From there, I became a Junior Project Manager and then a Project Manager. In 2021, I transferred to the San Antonio plant and started my current title of Group Sales Manager.
What made you decide to come back to ParkUSA, and what makes you want to stay?
I missed it, it was one of the most enjoyable jobs that I’ve had. It’s a great place to work, and I think the culture and the people just make it. They’re the main reason why I want to stay. We help each other, we work really well as a team, and being the Group Sales Manager, I want to help my team grow.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
My team—that’s number one. Helping them learn and watching them grow, that’s rewarding. I tell my team all the time that they can ask the same questions every day. But when I notice they start to ask certain questions less while achieving the correct end result on their own, it’s a sign of growth. I also love having fun at work. Just hearing the laughter and people joking in the hallways as they walk by, that’s rewarding too. I bought NERF guns for everyone (don’t worry, they’re HR-approved!), I post work-related memes on my door just for laughs. We get stuff done, but we have fun doing it.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
As far as my role as a manager, my typical workdays involve running reports, creating quotes, and making sure my team has everything they need to succeed—whether it be for their projects or parts they need or answering any questions they have. And just keeping up to date with current projects, making sure I’m aware of everything that’s going on, and communicating with customers.
Tell us more about your customers and the role communication plays in project success.
At the ParkUSA San Antonio plant, our customers are primarily supply houses, contractors, and engineers. Building relationships based on trust with all our customers is incredibly important to our success. My team will take customers to lunch and ask questions like, “What is Park doing great?” and “How can Park do better?” If there’s an issue, we want to know so we can figure out how to fix things. Communicating and nurturing these relationships helps us continuously improve so we can provide the best service and solutions for our customers.
Which of the ParkUSA product lines do you find most exciting to work with and why?
My focus is Stormwater Quality, so I work on a lot of projects with StormTroopers® (hydrodynamic separators) and hazardous material interceptors, but my favorite is the StormTrooper® Model SWAQ (sensitive wetland interceptor). The SWAQ was specifically designed for the Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio’s major source of groundwater, which is protected by special environmental regulations. The SWAQ utilizes patented coalescing media plate technology and is required to pretreat stormwater before it enters waterways that charge the aquifer.
It’s one of the most challenging but also the most interesting products I sell. It takes a lot of work in the design process, and the unpredictable topography in the Austin area can present excavation and construction challenges that we’ll work through. From the moment the engineer requests a design to the moment it goes in the ground, it can be up to a year and a half, so it’s quite a process. But in the end, knowing that you got it done and the customer is satisfied and happy—that’s my favorite.
Tell us about the sense of satisfaction that comes from providing products like the SWAQ that help protect the environment.
It’s satisfying to know that you had a hand in a project that helps keep our water supply clean. Whenever I watch TV, and they talk about the Edwards Aquifer, I’m like, “Hey, I built stuff for that!” The aquifer is a main source of water in our area, and it’s nice to know that people trust our products to get the job done—to function correctly and do what they are designed to do to keep the water going in and out of the aquifer clean. Even for other products we manufacture, I’ll be out at the store or going through a drive-thru and look down and see a ring cover and say, “Oh, we did that grease trap.” And my daughter says, “Mom, are you gonna do that everywhere we go?” And I’m like, “Yep!” Because it’s a little point of pride that you worked on that project and it’s having a positive impact.
What stands out most to you about the culture at ParkUSA and Northwest Pipe Company?
I started at ParkUSA before the acquisition. Even though we are now part of a publicly traded company, we still have those family-like values. I don’t feel any different now—yes, there’s more structure, different policies and procedures, but there’s still that family feel. And that’s what I like most about ParkUSA and Northwest Pipe Company—the culture.
Which of the Northwest Pipe Company ACT Values (Accountability, Commitment, Teamwork) resonates most for you in your role?
To me, they all go hand in hand. But accountability is big for me because, as a manager, I have to hold myself accountable to do the things that I say I’m going to do to help my team. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, it’s really hard to work together successfully as a team.
What advice do you have for someone starting a career in sales?
Absorb as much information as possible. Every piece of information is valuable. There’s a quote that I like that says, “The day that I stop learning is the day that I die.” So, if you get to a point where you think you know everything in your current role, challenge yourself by learning something new that could help you move up in the company or your career. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ll ask Ryan Blakey (San Antonio Plant Manager) questions about operations. It’s useful information and helps our teams work more efficiently and collaboratively.
What’s something that brightens your day outside of work?
My daughter is almost 16 years old, and she can brighten any day and any room she walks into. Whether it be with a silly joke, her TikTok dances, or typical teenage sarcasm. We also have a crazy 5-year-old boxer. A crazy dog and a crazy teenager—it’s a lot of fun!
What are some of the things you like to do to unwind after a work week?
We live on the outskirts of San Antonio, so on a nice day, we’ll take the doors off the Jeep and go for a ride in the country. Or we’ll go barbecue with friends or my parents on the weekend. But most of the time, I like to decompress at home with a book. I’m an avid reader, which is a nice interest to share with friends and coworkers. A dispatcher at Park and I were reading the same book, so the question came up, “Should we start our own book club?” But no, we’re not going that far just yet!