By Benjamin Horvath – Inside Towers Special Correspondent
Fresh from returning home after a tour of England as a Navy petty officer, Jason Thrasher began looking for a job to reenter the civilian workforce. Thrasher came across a job with Advanced Tower Services, a tower construction company based in his hometown Albuquerque, NM, which he thought was focused exclusively in civil construction.
“When I went to the interview, [the interviewer] said, ‘well you’ll know you’ll be doing climbing,’ and I responded, ‘no, I didn’t know that,’” Thrasher recounts. “I didn’t touch concrete for the first year of my job.”
What was first a big surprise for Thrasher quickly became his favorite part of the job. “I love to climb; I love being up there,” he said.
As a petty officer in the Navy, Thrasher said he was already used to the travel that accompanies life as a tower hand, something he said you “get used to but never like.” Thrasher said, despite regularly being away from his family, he enjoys seeing different parts of the country.
“We get to go places where people usually pay to see and go, and we get to see a lot interesting things,” Thrasher said. “And since we travel in many western states, we get to see a lot of wildlife.”
He said he also enjoys the different types of projects he has the opportunity to contribute to as a climber. For instance, within the first year of his job, Thrasher had the opportunity to work on a solar array for NASA.
One of the biggest changes he has witnessed in his five years in the industry, he said, has been the improvement of safety standards for climbers. Training has vastly improved during his short career in the industry, Thrasher said.
“When I first started working in the industry there was hardly any training,” he said. “Now we train every couple of months with all different types of training.”
Thrasher had one big scare as a climber that reminded him why safety is so important. While replacing the guy wires on a tower, the tower “buckled’ in the middle as a result of the incorrect removal of the wires.
“I remember being on the tower that we were changing,” Thrasher recalled. “Fortunately there were no injuries even though I was on the part of the tower that buckled, and ever since then our company has put even more safety protocols in place.
Thrasher said he hopes to continue working as a climber as long as his body allows. The industry’s continually evolving technology excites Thrasher, as it produces a hefty supply of work for tower climbers.
“The advance of cell technology…that’s what keeps this industry going. They’re always advancing phones, so the next generation will keep us pretty busy.”