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Staff Stories—Gus Lamen

Two men on a marine construction project in California.
Gus Lamen (left) and Conner Long (right) on the USS Red Oak Victory Relocaton project.

Gus Lamen was only eight-years-old when he was first introduced to construction. The assignment—inserting the bolts on the roof beams for the Lamen family cabin—served as an entry level position for the new “craft member.” It was that experience of helping build the family cabin that would spark an early interest in construction.

Gus grew up in San Rafael, California, 20 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area. As a child, he recalls, “skiing and camping with my family up at Soda Springs Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe.” The abundance of outdoor activities with his family allowed Gus to foster a deep appreciation for the outdoors.

After high school, Gus entered the Environmental Management program at California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University in San Luis Obispo. Dissatisfied with the focus on legal concepts, he soon switched to Forestry, but, near the end of his sophomore year, Gus contemplated leaving school altogether to join the Fire Academy back in San Rafael.

On the advice of his father, Gus instead transferred into the Construction Management program at Cal Poly’s Engineering School. “My dad knew I liked construction, so he suggested that I give it a try,” Gus explains. The change would present a challenge for Gus because of the stringent requirements for program transfers. This meant long nights of studying to prepare for math courses like Calculus II. “I was persistent in getting it done,” Gus says. “If it didn’t work out, my backup plan was to join the Fire Academy.”

When his transfer was approved, Gus utilized every opportunity to seek academic support. Determined to succeed, he spent hours after class picking the brains of his math professors about polar coordinates and partial fractions.

At the end of his sophomore year, Gus joined Cal Poly’s Construction Management Team for the ASC Construction Management Competition. With college students nationwide participating in the event, Gus competed in the Marine Construction category, where he was tasked with creating bids to present to a panel of judges. He attended an information session taught by Manson project manager, Matt Lehmann and senior estimator Bill Cooke, where he learned the basics of putting together a bid. Taking what he learned from the course, Gus went on to achieve 2nd and 3rd place showings two years in a row. Impressed by his accomplishments, Matt and Bill encouraged Gus to apply for an internship at Manson.

A short time later, Gus was offered an internship at Manson.

When Gus graduated in 2015, he joined Manson’s Richmond office as a full-time field engineer. Gus was first assigned to help with the estimating team but was then transferred to assist the dredge crew on the H.R. MORRIS at the Channel Islands and Port Hueneme Harbor Maintenance Dredging project. “It was much different than what I was used to,” Gus says. “I went from offloading cable from a sunken cable barge in the Richmond yard to conducting hydrographic surveys.”

The field experience would help him adapt to the dynamic environment of marine construction. “From the first time I met Gus, he showed a lot of interest in wanting to work on the water,” Matt explains. “He has always been one to step out of his comfort zone and try new things.”

In 2016, Gus was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. For two years, he worked hard to regain the physical independence that he had lost in the wreck. Never one to waver in the face of adversity, Gus rejoined the Manson Richmond office on the estimating team in 2018. “Gus is one of the most hard-working and diligent engineers that I’ve met,” says Chris Schaeffer, Manson project engineer. “He’s just a great guy to work with.”

Always striving to perform at the highest level, Gus has become an integral component of the Richmond office. As a field engineer, his day-to-day routine varies from generating project reports to assisting the estimating team with quantity takeoffs. “If I’m on a project, I assist with running it,” Gus explains. “As far as estimating goes, I help out the lead estimator in tracking down information needed.”

Gus (front), and the Richmond Yard crew gathered in front of the derrick barge NJORD during Safety Week.

When he’s not working away in the Richmond office, Gus can be found enjoying the outdoors with friends and family with the help of an Action Track off-road chair. The chair offers Gus the ability to travel through different types of terrain, allowing him to hunt and camp with friends.

Coming up on his 30th birthday, Gus is planning a trip with friends to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a two-day ski trip. “I bought myself a sit-ski so I can hit the slopes,” Gus says. “It took a little time to get used to because I’m in a sitting position, but I’m just glad to be out on the snow.”


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