John Kalkhoven, Titan Utilities (Sam Tenney/DJC)
John Kalkhoven literally came up through the ranks, from the ground up, to establish Titan Utilities LLC.
“My Dad was in the business, and I started at 10 years old working with him on weekends and during the summer,” Kalkhoven said.
He graduated from Aloha High School in 1972 and began work as a laborer. He made his way up the ranks – equipment operator, job foreman, supervisor and manager – before finally opening his own firm in 2009. Titan Utilities currently has 20 employees and specializes in public-bid projects, with an emphasis on small to medium-size water and sewer jobs.
“When we were accepted into the (Portland/Multnomah and Washington County) Prime Contractor Development Program, that made all the difference,” Kalkhoven said. “From then on, all of our work was public bid.
“The PCDP takes small firms and helps them to grow and manage their business. We’ve done all kinds of work – water , sewer, parks, drainage – and it’s really good to feel like the city is kind of a partner.”
Kalkhoven actively volunteers with organizations to help his industry move forward. He is a past president and a current board member of the NW Utility Contractors Association. He chairs several committees that work with public agencies and actively mentors other contractors.
He created a pipe trainer – including drumming up donations of the materials and services needed to construct it – that has been recognized as the first of its kind in the country. The equipment is used as part of the student training curriculum at the Northwest College of Construction.
Kalkhoven has won the NWUCA “Contractor of the Year” award, the “Committee Person of the Year” award and the “Above and Beyond” award. His dedication to the industry impresses everyone who works with him, according to Melinda Dailey, executive director of NWUCA.
“Never in my 15 years as executive director has anyone given more time and expertise as a volunteer to the industry,” Dailey said.
Kalkhoven also is committed to promoting workplace diversity in both is company and the industry.
“We’re a union firm, (and) when we need more workers through the union(s), we ask that they send us a diverse group,” he said. “We’ve had as much as 25 percent women on jobs before.
“Our current crew includes a woman, and several African American and Latino workers. If they have an active union card, we’re confident that they’ll do the job.”