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Employee-Owner Spotlight: Tim Williams, Level Three NACE Inspector

Employee-Owner Spotlight: Tim Williams, Level Three NACE Inspector

We recently spoke with Tim Williams to learn more about his role in our nondestructive examination group (NDE) as a level three National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) inspector from our Bloomington, Minnesota office. We wanted to get to know his professional background, his experience as a Braun Intertec employee-owner and whether he had advice for future Braun Intertec employees and future NACE inspectors.

What is your role at Braun Intertec?
Tim: I’m a level three NACE inspector. Typically, level three work requires writing and reviewing specifications, looking at coating systems, evaluating coatings needs based on different environments, etc.

My role is mostly as a consultant, but I end up doing some field work too. I also do a lot of failure analysis, which is why I get to travel so often. People often contact me and say, “X thing is failing, can you come do some testing and tell us why?” Other times, we’ll get a call from insurance companies, attorneys or general contractors who want to protect themselves.

Do you specialize in anything as a NACE Inspector in our NDE group?
I’ve noticed at industrywide NACE courses that the people enrolled are often performing work specific to one industry, for example, pipelines. These classes really drove home to me how versatile we are at Braun Intertec. Instead of just working in one specialty, we are involved in many industries and environments—floorings, above ground storage tanks, waste water treatment, fresh water, rehabilitation, bridges and the list could go on.

That’s really the common theme I’ve noticed in my work at Braun Intertec. You don’t get pigeonholed to just one specialty because there’s a diverse set of inspections to be done here. In other companies, inspectors often become experts in pipelines or tanks. But at Braun Intertec, while we do great work in pipelines and tanks, we aren’t limited to only that work.

What is your professional background?
My background is in welding engineering. I started out working as a Certified Welding Inspector and then moved up to quality assurance management through bridge work and structural steel workshops. I also worked for MNDOT in the structural metals unit and then did bridge work. After that, I wanted a new challenge, so I got into NACE inspections.

Can you tell us a little about your path into Braun Intertec?
I had a couple connections to Braun Intertec, I used to hire some of these guys when I was a quality manager for an engineering company. I also got to know some of the Braun Intertec guys in Portland when there was an office there.

Eventually, I started talking to Marv [a leader of the Braun Intertec NDE group] and he said we could figure a new role out together. Technically, I’m a “senior project manager” but the title of coating specialist is something that was created because senior project manager doesn’t really describe what I do every day.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The diversity of work. We do a lot of different types of jobs, so you never get bored. It’s the opposite. You sometimes almost get overwhelmed with all the projects. Outside of Braun Intertec, there are some people who have certifications in specific areas and can’t do anything else. But that’s not us. When it comes to coatings, we adapt. If there’s a request for something we haven’t done before, you must be a quick study. Sometimes we research new test methods to find the best way of testing something.

I think the biggest selling point of this job for new people is the diversity of work, you won’t be trapped in one area. The work and environments will vary greatly from day to day, so you’ll have to be able to adapt.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I like the failure analysis part of my job. The situations are often different and very interesting. I like figuring out what happened and putting together the detailed report. The reports have to be in-depth because our clients, generally (attorneys, insurance companies) go over them with a fine-tooth comb.

What advice would you give someone who is beginning a NACE career?

They need to be looking ahead at new technology. That’s the biggest thing with coatings, there are always new technologies like environmental coatings and nanotechnologies to explore. Also, pay attention to other industries and their new technology too.

There’s so much out there for people to explore outside of steel and bridges, if they want to. You’re only limited by what you want to do.