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Like most kids, Mikel Bowman had big dreams growing up.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be one of two things. I wanted to either be a fighter pilot or a professional fighter. I have not been either of those. I watched ‘Top Gun’ one time, and thought I could be that guy.”
Unfortunately, reality set in, and to start his blue collar career off, he found his way into a “not a fun job” carrying block and mortar in the summers.
When he entered the working world full-time, he worked as a counselor for a nonprofit, but he felt like something was missing. Naturally, he headed back to the blue collar world, taking a job as a driller for a mining company.
“I just felt like I needed to make a change. A friend of mine said he could get me a job tomorrow. It paid decent, so I jumped in and went after it.”
At the time, Mikel didn’t have much heavy equipment experience but made the most of it anyway.
“I hadn’t run a lot of heavy equipment, but I had run backhoes, skid steers, Bobcats, cherry pickers, and other stuff like that. I handled customers, took care of the mine sites, and helped with the blasters. I did pretty well, and I became a preferred driller for a lot of companies.”
Before long, Mikel was able to identify a big issue for the mining industry: the disconnect between management and the workers on the ground.
“I’ve forever wanted to be a champion of the blue collar person in this industry. Corporate higher-ups run the mining industry. A lot of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths. They don’t have a clue what it’s like to have blisters on their hands or big shoulders earned through hard work.”
Today, Mikel is the Culture Guru for Turner Mining Group, a recent promotion from Safety Manager, and he spends every day doing whatever he can to make sure that the disconnect never becomes a problem for Turner.
“What I’ve found is that the biggest disconnect between the safety people and the operations staff is that the higher-ups didn’t understand what their people were doing, and what they honestly needed. All they could do was compute dollars and cents, but not the true heart of what we’re doing. That’s what gets me up every morning, making sure blue collar people know that somebody is on their side. There’s somebody who’s a voice of reason that represents them.”
Mikel thinks that there’s a position in the mining industry for anyone who doesn’t mind working hard.
“I don’t think there’s a bottom in this industry. I think we’re all in this together. You can go so far in this industry if you get in there and pay your dues. You don’t go to the gym and get six-pack abs by looking at the weights, and that’s how our industry is too.”Back to all stories