Reader Profile: David Hayner

June 25, 2014

In 1991, Dave Hayner, a young US Army Reservist, had been called up to active duty for the first Gulf War. During the war, Hayner installed water supply and storage systems-including miles of temporary pipelines to support the war effort-and, later on, troop and POW camps. That experience would serve him well when in 2008 he started his own civil contracting company, Veterans Contracting Solutions Group (VCSG) LLC in Knoxville, TN. VCSG provides services in utility, grading, demolition, site restoration, and environmental remediation projects for commercial, municipal, and government clients.

The company has done work everywhere from east Tennessee to nine other US states and even in Afghanistan. Depending on the project, the work force can encompass between six to 20 employees at any given time. VCSG has been selected by the US Department of Energy as a formal Mentor Protégé participant, with its mentor being URS|CH2M (UCOR) in Oak Ridge, TN. Hayner has a soft spot in his heart for hiring veterans. “We’re very passionate about veterans’ issues, in particular assisting with the employment of returning veterans into the work force,” says Hayner. His company has hired more than 12 veterans, guardsmen, and reservists over the past several years. “When you hire a veteran, you bring to the table a person who has received the best training in the world,” he points out. “A soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine has been taught how to overcome tough situations, work with others, respect others, work safely, how to act on their feet, and has shown a very high level of self discipline and accomplishment.” As such, veterans get hiring preference, even for part-time positions. Hayner points out that Afghanistan and Iraq veterans initially encounter struggles transitioning from the battlefield to the workplace. “However, given a chance to train through the adjustment period, vets can become some of the finest employees you’ll ever hire,” Hayner says. VCSG’s management has met with local companies, labor unions, and labor agencies to encourage them to increase endeavors to recruit, hire, and train veterans. “The right thing to do is to give a veteran a chance for what they have done for all of us,” Hayner asserts. Hayner is one of the founders and current vice president of the Tennessee Veterans Business Association, a fast-growing organization comprising more than 150 veteran-owned and veteran-friendly companies that support each other and numerous veterans’ causes.

What he does day to day
Hayner’s primary focus is on business development, managing customers, marketing, and sales. “However, some of my favorite days are when I spend time on the sites with the guys, including my son Hayden, an Army Reservist who works for us part time while not in school at the Army ROTC program at the University of Tennessee.” Over the years, Hayner has managed more than 105 employees at any given time, as well as 200 subcontractors. He has led more than 150 projects, including construction management of more than 1,500 residential and multifamily structures; more than 30 residential, commercial, and multifamily land development projects; site planning; disaster recovery; site remediation; demolition, architectural and engineering coordination; management of estimating, budgets, subcontracting; and bank draw/proposals.

What led him into this line of work
Hayner grew up on construction job sites, learning from and helping his father and grandfather, both of whom were in the business. He coupled his military education and background in water distribution and treatment with studies in civil engineering at Montana State University and utility sciences at Santa Ana College in California. Hayner also worked for the El Toro Water District in Lake Forest, CA, and for other companies before starting his own firm.

What he likes most about his work
“I really enjoy the process of working with all the players involved in a project from the planners to the operators and then when the client shakes our hands and tells you how pleased they are with the final product.”

His greatest challenge
“Finding the right balance among faith, family, friends, career, and self” is Hayner’s greatest challenge. “When you love what you do, it’s not that hard to put in a 12-hour day. However, we all need to work to live, not the other way around.”