Chevron Speaks to Don Lorz, Metals Craft Trainer at the Richmond Refinery

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Tell us about your career at Chevron.

I started as an apprentice at Chevron in 1985, following in my dad’s footsteps who was a pipefitter at the plant. As an apprentice, I learned on the job and trained with the Journeyman (skilled workers who’ve completed their apprentice training). That’s why I enjoy my job so much as the Metals Craft Trainer – I’ve come full circle and am now teaching the next generation of welders, pipefitters and boilermakers the skills they need to be successful.

Tell us about the welding program at Kennedy High School.

The West Contra Costa School District (WCCUSD) has been running a welding certification program for a very long time. The program lasts for two years and combines classroom training with hands-on experience. Upon completion, students who pass an exam receive a welding certification which prepares them for entry-level positions and apprenticeships.

What are some new changes happening with the program.

Chevron has partnered with the WCCUSD to completely rehabilitate and improve the welding lab, which is located at Kennedy High School. I helped research what type of equipment was needed in the lab and helped identify new curriculum that should be taught. The new lab is truly awesome!

What excites you the most about this program?

There is a high-demand need for welders in the real world. Robots can’t do everything that welders do! This program teaches students the skills they will need to put themselves a step ahead in the welding job market. It also helps them decide if welding, and the trades in general, are truly the right career for them because of all the hands-on experience they will gain in this state-of-the-art lab.

What is some advice you would give to people who want to have a career at a place like Chevron?

Learn everything you can – there’s never a dumb question. Take pride and ownership in your work – there is nothing more useful than a good reputation. If people trust you to produce good, efficient work, then you will be given increasing levels of responsibility. Oh, and be sure to arrive to work on time!

How has working for Chevron changed over the past three decades?

I have seen a lot of changes in my 33 years with the Refinery. It is a much safer place to work. The community may not know about Stop Work Authority – which is a policy that encourages and enables every single worker, regardless of rank or expertise, to stop any work if they believe that it is not being done safely. The Refinery has definitely changed for the better.

What do you like to do in the community?

I like to volunteer with the Milo Foundation. I have a black lab at home, so it is great to work with the animals and give some love back to them. In fact, in 2015, I took my entire group of welder trainees over to Milo and we built their kennels!

Is there a misconception about Chevron in the community that you would like to correct?

Chevron is my second family. I care about everyone here, and what a lot of people in the community probably don’t see, is how much Chevron cares too. Being an employee, I see it firsthand. They are not only constantly working to make the plants run smoother and better, but the company and my fellow team members are involved in making the community a better place to live.

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