Features

Andy Wright – Day & Zimmermann

Day & Zimmermann HR leader is a partner in growth

In 1914, Philadelphia-based Day & Zimmermann designed the machine used to wrap the foil around Hershey’s iconic chocolate Kisses. Just three years earlier, the company had set records hauling the concrete to build the Panama Canal’s Gatun Locks. Then, in the 1930s, it was part of the effort to bring electricity to America’s rural areas. 

In 2022, more than a century after designing the foil machine, Day & Zimmermann was selected by X-energy to help build small, state-of-the-art Xe-100 gas reactors. Those will be used to generate electricity for hospitals, distribution centers and big-box stores. 

Andy Wright | Vice President, Human Resources for Maintenance and Construction | Day & Zimmermann

Andy Wright | Vice President, Human Resources for Maintenance and Construction | Day & Zimmermann

It’s a big deal for the company, says Andy Wright, the vice president of the human resources department who is helping to help find, develop and support project directors, managers and field superintendents needed to fulfill the contract. 

“I’m a huge believer in HR as a business partner,” he says. “Being a true partner starts with understanding the business, how the company earns revenue, and building credibility with the workforce. My team earns that trust as partners every day.” 

Been there, built that 

Day & Zimmermann was founded in 1901 by Charles Day and Kern Dodge. Known then as Dodge & Day, the company initially specialized in engineering consulting, but added an architectural department and expanded its construction workforce in 1905. John Zimmermann joined the firm in 1907.  

Andy Wright | Vice President, Human Resources for Maintenance and Construction | Day & Zimmermann

In 1961, Day & Zimmerman was acquired by the H.L. Yoh Co., whose eponymous family—led by CEO Harold L. Yoh III—continues to own and operate the company. Today, Day & Zimmermann has a global workforce of 51,000 working in more than 150 locations worldwide. It operates four divisions: staffing, munitions, government services and maintenance and construction. 

Wright leads HR for as many as 15,000 of those employees including staff employees, union and nonunion craft mechanics, pipefitters, boilermakers and electricians. His division also provides project managers, estimators, schedulers, analysts and safety managers—the workforce needed at facilities involved in nuclear energy, fossil fuels and chemical production.  

In addition to the X-energy project, Wright says Day & Zimmermann will provide skilled labor and leadership to fabricate and install piping and ductwork in Ford’s electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant. That will be called BlueOval City and will be located near to Memphis, Tennessee.  

Welcome aboard 

The maintenance and construction division was growing as Wright chatted with Vision in January. Day & Zimmermann had just announced its acquisition of the Ohio-based Davis-Pickering Co. Contractors—a deal that allows the former to continue expanding in the industrial, solar and commercial sectors while increasing the maintenance and construction division’s capabilities in civil, electrical, structural and piping work. 

In October 2020, it expanded its Canadian operations by acquiring Ontario-based EMC Power Canada Ltd., a specialized trade services and construction company. In February 2020, Day & Zimmermann acquired Pittsburgh-based Minnotte Contracting Corp., a union mechanical contractor and construction company. 

Andy Wright | Vice President, Human Resources for Maintenance and Construction | Day & Zimmermann

John McCormick | Bethany Cassidy | Angela Heck

Throughout a given deal, Wright works closely with the division’s president, John McCormick—specifically, providing counsel and information on its workforce and how the company would fit into the division’s operations.  

Wright also supports new employees as they are hired. For example, he sent Senior HR Director Bethany Cassidy and a staff HR business partner to Ohio to meet with Davis-Pickering employees and leaders and explain Day & Zimmermann’s culture and benefit programs.  

Wright and McCormick also collaborate as they meet with the executive leadership team twice annually to discuss development and succession plans for division leadership. That includes identifying candidates for future leadership and training them for those roles. 

To continue training and building the workforce, Wright says Angela Heck, his division’s director of training and development, is leading a 15-person workforce development council that includes members in operations and support roles. They’re working with schools, universities and unions on how to resolve current labor shortages. 

Adding tech while adding talent 

Currently, Wright and his team are working a multi-year rollout of Success Factors, a cloud-based HR software application. Success Factors will improve processes in areas including performance and talent management, recruiting and onboarding, and workforce and compensation planning. 

“It’s an essential component to our development strategy,” Wright says.   

Wright earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Then, he earned a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, drawing inspiration from an undergraduate course on the topic. 

Andy Wright | Vice President, Human Resources for Maintenance and Construction | Day & Zimmermann

Before joining Day & Zimmermann in November 2015, Wright spent nearly 20 years working for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He began as a generalist in 1996, then held roles as a senior compensation consultant.  After that, he was an HR manager at a nuclear site; and then the TVA Nuclear Power Group, which is part of the authority.  

He was senior manager for medical and worker’s compensation when he left for Day & Zimmermann. 

“I never would have chosen HR as a kid, but I enjoy building teams to solve people problems,” Wright says. “I just like listening to and connecting with people and learning about what’s important to them.” 

View this feature in the Vol. III 2023 Edition here.

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My experience with the team at Vision was great. Their professional and courteous staff took every opportunity to make the production of our article a real pleasure. From the initial contact, through the interview and all the way into production, the process was easy and fun. On behalf of the members of Anza Electric, thank you for highlighting what we do here to make rural living and cooperative membership more valuable in our community and across the country.
– Kevin Short, General Manager, Anza Electric Cooperative Inc.

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