All part of enjoying a career: Gregory W. Huffman
Editor's Note: This month's Member Profile features Gregory W. (Greg) Huffman, Road Superintendent, Sylvania Township, Ohio, and Executive Committee Director of the Ohio Chapter.
Tell us about your background: Currently I work for Sylvania Township performing the role as Road Superintendent, and I've been enjoying this position for 14 years now. Sylvania Township is an unincorporated urbanized community. Prior to employment with Sylvania Township, I was employed with the City of Sylvania, an incorporated municipality, for a year and a half, and then the Ohio Department of Transportation for seven years before that. So I have about 23 years of public service employment.
That pretty much takes me to when I graduated from high school. I worked for a year at a construction company after high school, but reality quickly set in when I found myself paying for my own health insurance. So after a year with this company—which provided no benefits—I was hired at ODOT, and it was a huge relief to have my health insurance paid for. In some cases the public sector offers many benefits that are hard to beat in the private sector.
Education: I completed my Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering at the University of Toledo, College of Engineering.
Hobbies/Interests: My hobbies are snow and water skiing. As for my interests, I enjoy serving with the Ohio Army National Guard, HHC 416th Engineer Group. I also enjoy the active participation with the APWA Ohio Chapter.
You mentioned the other day that you're going overseas with your National Guard unit: Right. May 1st through the 17th I'll be in South Korea for a humanitarian project, assembling medical centers and schoolhouses. Our engineering unit conducted a similar trip in February in the Chiriqui Province of Panama, a very impoverished area.
These humanitarian missions in these different countries are a part of a task force that the military implements throughout the world. I also belong to the Army Engineer Association, and I recall in their quarterly magazine that on any given day National Guard reservists serve in nearly 64 different countries in the world.
This also has to do with being a member of APWA, but being a member of the National Guard offers many opportunities for networking, meeting new people, and developing contacts. It's all part of enjoying a career. I've also found the construction and engineering aspects of the missions very interesting.
Role Model: Joe Gibbs, former coach of the Washington Redskins and current NASCAR team owner. I admire his ability to recognize talent, whether it's a football player or a race car driver, and then implement his specific methods of coaching and mentoring so that these athletes can reach their potential.
Tell us about Sylvania Township: Sylvania Township was established in February 23, 1835. The term "Sylvania" is a latin derivative for "the woods" or "wooded area." We have many oak and maple trees, and one of the few remaining oak savanna areas.
Sylvania Township was known for its quarries in the early 1850s, and these quarries are still used today. One section of the Centennial Quarry, actually a 19-acre site, was transformed into a recreational facility and used during the 1940s all the way through today. A portion of the facility is used for swimming, and there's a section of land next to that which was developed for an outdoor dancing facility, which at one time had the largest terrazzo floor in the area. Terrazzo is a marble stone, and I'm aware of a few banks in town that have this terrazzo floor.
We also have a Boy Scout reservation here in Sylvania Township that was established in the 1920s, Camp Miakonda. Numerous activities for the Boy Scouts are conducted here, especially in the many acres of woods in the area.
During the Civil War there were a couple of staging houses for the Underground Railroad to harbor escaped slaves that were en route to Canada searching for freedom. So Sylvania Township is on the map known as a staging area for the Underground Railroad.
Career Accomplishments: How about if I just use the term, "Using technology to create efficiencies." I believe it's important for public works managers to be attentive to the changes in technology and the engineering market. It's also important to be open to ideas from other parts of the world where new technology is being implemented. APWA offers a conduit of this technology to public works managers in serving their communities.
Why do you like being a member of APWA? What I value the most about being a member of APWA is the opportunity to network and share ideas with fellow public works managers. I appreciate the opportunity to communicate potential liabilities and to create an environment where a public works manager is allowed to be proactive concerning issues involving the community. Also, the Congress and Snow Conference offer such a wide spectrum of events, courses, and technical sessions. Attending them is truly time well spent.