Like a lot of construction workers, Kevin Tamor was more or less born into his profession. My family has always been in construction, he said. You fall in that pit, and stay in that rut. I grew up in it, so its just a way of life.
|Tamor left, but came back.(Photo by Angelle Bergeron for ENR)|
As a superintendent with the heavy construction department of Boh Bros. Construction Co., its almost as if Tamor was born into the New Orleans-based contractor, considering the number of family members who also work for Boh. Tamor has a cousin in Bohs pipe department, a brother who also works in the heavy construction department, a couple of cousins who work for the piling department and some uncles who retired from the company.
Clearly, this family-owned and operated business is also composed of families, an interesting concept in this day of relocating, job-hopping and corporate loss of identity.
About five years ago, Tamor cut ties. I was burnt out after 30 years, he said. There is a lot of pressure in this business, especially when youre in a supervisory position. I went back with the tools to get away from the pressure, calm down a bit.
However, in the post-Katrina environment, Tamor chose to return to the familial company, and the accompanying demands. Hes been back with Boh since the storm, Tamor said. My wifes company was moving to Texas after the storm. In order to keep the family together, I came back to Boh.
A lot of people have been forced to make major life decisions since Katrina devastated the New Orleans area. Companies have pulled up stakes and relocated. Houses have been destroyed and lives disrupted. While insurance companies, mortgage holders, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the President and urban planners hash out the details of when and how to go about the cleanup and reconstruction, people like Tamor have to figure out how to survive and go about the business of living. I didnt want to move to Texas because all of my family is here, he said.
Still short about 300 employees since the hurricane, Boh Bros. is glad to have a seasoned supervisor like Tamor back on the payroll and in the field. For Tamors part, its obvious he never completely separated himself from the company. Standing on the Citrus back levee, a reconstruction project tucked safely in a remote area of eastern New Orleans and removed from most of the media hubbub, Tamor vehemently defends his companys performance. I am tired of all that bad publicity where they were trying to blame the contractor for the levee breaches, he said. Corps inspectors are out here every day, measuring. It just doesnt make sense. What does a contractor benefit by spending time cutting the sheet?
Isnt it more likely that a local contractor would be more committed to quality construction, he asked, especially considering that many Boh Bros. employees homes and families were nestled in what they believed to be the protective embrace of a well-designed system.
Tamor rode out Hurricane Katrina in his home in Poydras, a small community in heavily-flooded St. Bernard Parish. We had water in the house no structural, just water damage, Tamor said. We had no power or gas, but we might have been able to survive without all that because we had a generator, water and food.
Tamor, his wife, and two daughters were able to save all of their furniture by moving it to the second floor of the house. The police told us the National Guard was going to come out and tell us to go, so we left, he said.
On this particular day, Company President Robert S. Boh was touring the site with reporters and had arrived early to check progress on the project. Robert comes out now and then, Tamor said. He makes his rounds to all the jobs.
Tamor is happy to be staying in New Orleans and grateful to have the means to support his family by working for a company he is proud to be a part of. Boh did a tremendous job on trying to help out the city, Tamor said. They also did a good job for employees by giving them an incentive to come back and providing housing for those who needed it.