“We bring engineering designs to life and prepare them for fabrication to suit the customer’s needs,” said Allstate Tower Drafting Manager Jeff Webber of his drafting department.
Based in Henderson, Kentucky, Allstate Tower is part of Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group. Allstate Tower specializes in building communication towers and agricultural support equipment. The drafting department is an important piece of making Allstate Tower successful.
Allstate customers will give their specifications to engineering, which then dictates how the projects are built. It’s the drafting department’s responsibility to generate drawings for the shop to produce. The drafting department also interacts with project managers to get customers’ approvals and ensure everything is being interpreted correctly.
Everything starts with a work order from sales. Once that is received, Jeff will call a kickoff meeting so the drafting department can discuss all parameters of the product. From there, items will be purchased, and there will be a discussion about how installations will be made and what customer expectations are for the project. Information will then be sequestered from the engineering department for design. Drafting will make prints to the customer for approval. After they are approved, the prints go to the shop. The drafting department will reconcile the prints once the shop is through, and the prints will be sent to the customer.
Jeff studied computer programming at the University of Southern Indiana and machine trade at Vincennes University. The Newburgh native started his career as a machinist in Evansville, making everything from watch parts to fixturing for the nose cone for a space shuttle. He specialized in CNC machinery/programming and learned how to do 3D drafting and design. Jeff had 14 years in the tower industry prior to joining Allstate. He’s put that experience to good use as the company’s drafting manager.
“I came to Allstate because of the strong family environment,” said Jeff, who is married and blessed with two children and four grandchildren. “That’s one thing that drew me to here, is that it was a very cohesive environment.”Jeff’s job is to oversee the five drafters in his department. His team includes Robbie Collins, Jared Coppage, Ryan Aull, Jim “Smiley” Thompson, and Will Ladd. Jeff also oversees kickoff meetings, makes sure his workers have what they need, delegates tasks and inspects drawings for release.“I make sure my guys have what they need and schedule the timing for them to get their tasks done,” he said.
Ryan was born and raised in Owensboro. He attended two years at Owensboro Community and Technical College before attending Murray State University for three years and earning a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Graphics and Design. While in college, he took several classes that utilized 2D and 3D design software. About two months after graduating college, Ryan interviewed at Allstate Tower. He began working for the company in October 2015. “I have enjoyed working here and the Allstate Tower family ever since starting here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to more years to come.”
When Robbie was young, he enjoyed playing with Lincoln Logs and K’NEX. Drafting, in a way, is an extension of what he liked to play with as a child. For other inspiring drafters, he suggests taking drafting classes in high school. He also advises making sure you are passionate about drafting as a career before pursuing it. Drafting can be challenging at times, but Robbie said that’s good because it stretches him and makes him think. After graduating high school in Paoli, Indiana in 2003, he attended a technical school in Louisville, where he obtained an associate degree in drafting in 2005. Allstate hired him in June 2015 to draw communication towers for their drafting department. Allstate is both laid-back and fast-paced, according to Robbie. “Working at Allstate has been a great experience and a wonderful time in creating new friends and a new family,” he said. “Thank you, Allstate, for such a wonderful opportunity.”
Jared graduated from Owensboro Community and Technical College in the fall of 2014 with an associate degree in Computer-Aided Drafting. He began working for Allstate Tower in November 2015. Allstate’s family environment appealed to him. “(Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group President) Ben (Johnston) really cares about all the workers and just makes you feel like part of the family,” Jared said.
Will has an Associate Degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design from ITT Tech. Will started with Pittsburg Elevated in Sebree in 2006. He’s been with Allstate since 2011. Will enjoys custom projects. One he drafted is very near and dear to the PTTG extended family – the Don Johnston memorial bridge that’s situated in Audubon Park.
He suggests that people interested in drafting keep an open mind. Drafters should be able to pay attention to detail, have proficient computer skills, and be good at 3D visualization. He said his father was a mechanic and he inherited some of those skills, “So, I’ve got a real good mind for putting pieces together.”
Jim “Smiley” Thompson
Smiley started working at Allstate Tower in 2010 as a detailer. He brings a lot of experience to Allstate – having worked 16 years total in the tower industry and more than 20 years in the steel industry. “I’ve been through it all and I understand what the next guy needs in line, so it helps me do my job a little bit better,” Smiley said, who has a degree in mechanical drafting/CAD design from Lincoln Tech in Indianapolis.