Member Spotlight: Timothy Gillespie
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Timothy Gillespie, Vice President Product Engineering / Technical Services for Sika Corporation in Lyndhurst, NJ. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Timothy Gillespie is Vice President Product Engineering/Technical Services for Sika Corporation, based in the corporate office located in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Sika Corporation is a worldwide producer of repair materials, building envelope materials, concrete admixtures, flooring and roofing products with over 100 years of history in cement, polymer and concrete technology.
Timothy received a BS in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University in 1985. He worked for Turner Construction Company in New York City for 11 years before joining Sika in 1996. His duties at Sika include managing the Product Engineering and Technical Service departments as well as Inside Sales. These departments provide technical advice on the use of Sika products, product development and support relative to the commercial concrete repair business, building envelope business, residential retail business and liquid roofing membrane business.
Tim is a member of ICRI at the national level where he participates on several technical committees including the Repair Committee, Corrosion Committee, Corrosion Inhibitor Subcommittee (Chairman). He was elected a Fellow of ICRI in 2004. He is a voting member on ACI committees 546-Repair and 364 Rehabilitation and a frequent speaker at repair industry conferences.
Name: Timothy Gillespie
Title: Vice President Product Engineering / Technical Services
Firm: Sika Corporation
City: Lyndhurst, NJ
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession as a civil engineer?
A: I was always interested in architecture and construction. I studied civil engineering in college graduating from Lehigh University in 1985 with a BSCE. The first 11 years I worked for Turner Construction building hi-rise buildings in NYC. I was interested in working for Sika to get back to my engineering/technical roots. While Sika is not a design engineering firm, we provide highly technical advice to engineers, architects and contractors on an incredibly diverse range of applications and structures in every geographic location throughout the USA and abroad.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Thomas Jefferson believed learning is a life-long endeavor. I think it is important to learn something new every day and to constantly strive to improve to be the absolute best you can be.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: I have always enjoyed working in an atmosphere of trust where a team collaborates to determine the best solution which is then tested, verified and implemented. I find in these situations everyone brings different strengths and perspectives to the table. This provides tremendous opportunity to learn from each other (refer to the answer to the previous question). When we listen to and respect each other, it is incredible what a group of individuals can accomplish when they work together as a team.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Through several acquisitions Sika assembled a comprehensive building envelope system. As we were preparing to launch our air barrier product line we constantly consulted the ABAA website. ABAA was an excellent resource and it immediately became evident to us that it would be a valuable organization to be part of.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I am not yet involved with any committees nor do I have any current certifications. However, I have attended a good number of the conferences and attended many of the presentations where I have learned a great deal. The networking opportunities has also afforded me a chance to learn from other ABAA members.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been in construction my entire career, 36 years. I have been in the concrete repair and protection industry for 25 years. During these past 10 years, I have launched and provided technical support for products and systems specific to the building envelope field.
What major changes have you seen?
A: The concrete repair industry has evolved significantly from being an ‘art’ to a science with very sound principals available to consultants and contractors in order to conduct investigations, determine root cause, design solutions and finally to implement and verify the solutions.
There is a tremendous need for training as the ‘old timers’ (experienced) are retiring and the ‘up and comers’ take on more responsibility. Technology and product capabilities have advanced and there is now so much new information from so many different sources that it is very challenging to stay current.
This past year due to Covid has had a huge impact on how business is conducted. We are doing many more webinars and remote meetings as the specifiers we traditionally meet with in person are also working remotely. Of course, construction cannot be done remotely! Trained crews and essential workers are still required to properly execute the work so now more than ever it is critical to train specifiers and contractors on the proper use and application of our products and to support the installation of them in the field.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: Construction is an enormously challenging field. An architect once said to me ‘the challenge in construction is every project, every detail is new; unlike building the 1 millionth car coming off an assembly line.’ The people on project teams must be adaptive, creative, problem-solvers to keep a project on schedule and on budget. Communication skills are critical as there are so many different people who play various roles, have various levels of education and construction experience that are involved with any given project. Of course, integrity and ethics go without saying, they are an absolute must.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Work hard, seek advice, ask questions. There is never anything wrong with not knowing the answer, but then do your research and find the answer as soon as possible. When you are assigned a task or responsibility get it done on time and exceed expectations with respect to quality and thoroughness. Earn trust, be a team player, be honorable and respectful. And also remember to enjoy it!
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: There is a huge need for people in construction. Almost everyone I talk to is looking for someone (including myself). The need exists everywhere: engineers, suppliers, contractors both managers and tradesman. As our aging infrastructure continues to deteriorate, there will be even a greater need to sustain our structures, make them more resilient to the elements, adapt them to current needs, and be creative in extending their service life safely.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: Technology is driving so many things these days and it will continue to play a key role in construction. Advances will increase productivity, influence how information is shared and increase the level of quality. Suppliers will continue to innovate to provide products that will allow contractors to install them in fewer steps, with less sensitivity to weather, that are easier to apply and will last longer and be greener. All of this will increase productivity and quality.