Surehand Spotlight: Brandon Champion

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The Surehand® Spotlight shares just some of the many thousands of stories in the skilled industrial trades, shining a bright light on the hard-working tradesmen and women who build, operate, maintain, and ensure the safety of the world we live in. We also focus on the individuals and organizations working hard to advance industrial sectors and ensure their success over the coming decades.

This month we shine the spotlight on Brandon Champion, Director of Sales and Development at Prime Pipeline Services. We spoke to Brandon about advancing in NDT, the future of the energy sector, and advice for anyone in the field.

Photo credits: Brandon Champion

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I started out as a helper in 2006 and moved my way up to Vice President and now Director of Sales and Development. We do welding and coating and NDT. I’m from a little bitty town in Arkansas and a friend had a rope in with a guy who did this kind of work. He called me and asked if I wanted to go x-ray, and I said, “what is that?” I was 18. I took the offer and have been doing it ever since.

How did opportunities for advancement and career development present themselves and how did you recognize them and act on them?

I was a helper and I helped for about 5 years. And the guys I was helping would be technicians who had less experience than I did, and I was pretty much running their trucks and making them shine, so it pushed me to have their job. I did the training and eventually broke out. Then I started working with auditors, Level III’s, and was inspired to push myself to Level III as well. During the slow times when I was only getting 30-40 hours a week, I would call people I’d worked with before to get work for the company and keep myself working. So I was doing sales while I was running a rig and my boss noticed that. When we came to the right time, he was able to move me up into a position of Regional Director.

It sounds like you are a self starter with a competitive nature, is that right?

Yeah, I’m very driven. What we do is awesome. We take a picture of something and look inside of it like you would the human body. We can look at a picture of a weld and be able to tell what’s wrong with that weld and I really like that. There are so many technologies and every year it’s just getting more advanced, and I like that. I like reading about it and I constantly research it. That’s led me to suggest new industries and new business opportunities with my boss. We’re a pipeline company, but there’s so much more to do than just focus on one industry.

How did someone who used to hate to read end up excelling in the NDT field?

The older I got, the more I read about things I really enjoy. You can take a job and make a great living with just a little bit of education. Being able to read and know the codes is what is most helpful in NDT.

What do you see for the future of the energy sector?

One thing I think will become more popular is nuclear. Smaller, less dangerous reactors are being built that can produce a lot of energy. When you look at wind farms and solar farms, the amount of land they take up to produce a quarter of what natural gas can produce is very different. We also still rely on oil and gas to make a lot of the component parts, even for green energy, so I see a shift away, but not completely, because we are still so heavily reliant on plastics.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten in your field?

At the end of the day, clients are looking for production, but to be able to give a quality product is the most important thing. A lot of people cut corners just to get the job done, and that can cost a company thousands of dollars. This is a career. You have to be versatile, being able to work on pipeline, manufacturing, fab shops, etc, so you’re valuable. If you’re versatile, you can thrive. Also, even if a person is just your helper, always treat them with respect, because someday that person could be your boss.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my kids, and hunt and fish. I have a 14 year old, a 10 year old, and a 2 year old. The older kids go with me and we love to hunt and fish.

 


Our thanks to Brandon Champion for making time to share her story and industry insights with us.

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