By Ryan Lessard
Darrell Britton of Plaistow is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) manager at Fulcrum Associates, a construction management company that was recently awarded the Supplier of the Year award by BAE Systems.
Can you explain what your current job is?
My job is the job of MEP manager for Fulcrum and what that job entails is everything related to the unseen things in most buildings. And that would be the heating, the air conditioning, the plumbing, the fire protection, the telecommunications. Everything that makes a building tick. It’s basically what would be considered the heart, if it was the body, of the building. And I … not only assist with the design but oversee the installation, the day-to-day operations of that type of work. And I also oversee the final commissioning of the building as it relates to the MEPs.
How long have you worked there?
I’ve been here just a little over a year.
How did you get interested in this field?
From a very young age, my family … was in the plumbing and heating business. And I would work part-time, from the time I was probably 13 to 14 years old, at it. And it was something that I enjoyed. I’m a very mechanical person. … And that’s what got me started in this business.
What kind of education or training did you need for this?
For me it was a combination of both. I began to work for my family and got hands-on training throughout the field. And I wasn’t limited to just one discipline. … I would go on to get a degree in mechanical engineering just to help me [on] the design side of things. … It was [an associate’s degree] for HVAC engineering. … Certifications came along. For instance, I’m a licensed plumber, pipefitter, I’m a U.S. certified welder. Just about everything you can have for licenses I’ve obtained at one time or another.
How did you find your job?
It’s funny. I was essentially getting ready to retire, and at that point a friend of mine had said that [Fulcrum president] Jeff [Luter] was looking possibly to have an MEP person in New Hampshire. There are several of them for the bigger companies, but in New Hampshire they’re virtually unknown. And he felt as though the type of work he was getting into required more MEP background than probably they had here. … This was close to home and it was a nice fit all the way around, so I accepted the job.
What’s the best piece of work-related advice anyone’s ever given you?
I think the best piece of advice I got was when I was a very young man first coming inside to work as a manager within a shop. And that was have a Plan B. Nothing in this business goes as planned, usually.
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
If I could go back, I think I would go and learn more of the higher education. I think that I would have [learned] a lot more about engineering than what I’ve learned the hard way.
What is your typical at-work uniform?
Typically, it’s business casual. A button-down shirt, a pair of khakis. And, at times, a sports coat.
What was the first job you ever had?
The very first job I ever had, and that was going way back, I was cleaning the inside of oil tanks.