Remembering the Iron Workers

Has this ever happened to you: you look back at earlier work in your career and ask, “Wow, that is really good. How the hell did I do it?” The older I get, the more that happens. On Christmas eve, we had an open house for the neighbors. Great fun. Talking to a local contractor, I offered to send him some of my iron worker videos. In reviewing them, I am amazed at how terrific they are. The men and their stories are timeless. 

These were done eight years ago. In case you didn’t see them when I first posted them, or you’d like a refresher, here are some of my favorites. I wonder what happened to these men. Hope they are still doing well. Certainly with all the construction around Redwood City, there must be plenty of work – though mostly they travel all around the western states. 

Here are Larry Lippert and Tim Horrisburger reflecting on their careers in this trade. Lots of danger and lots of pride. I hope that Tim’s wife survived her cancer. Just talking about it made Tim tear up. I was pleased that he brought her down all the way from Sacramento for the reception in August, 2014. 



Jose Hernandez reflects on his life up in the air. The adrenaline turns him on. He is proud of his legacy of buildings that will be here long after he is gone. Yet, he wants his two boys to go to college, “I don’t want to lose a son to this business.”  


Johnny Kooker runs the crane that lowers the 2,000 pound beams the iron workers put in place. Men’s lives depend on his steady hand. His greatest pride is seeing everyone go home safe at night. He enjoys “putting this thing together.” 





Iron Workers Reception, August, 2014



As the Box building project was winding down, I sponsored a big reception for the iron workers at a restaurant just across the street. We had about 20 iron workers and some of their families plus about twenty of our friends and colleagues.It was an unforgettable evening. You can see a video of it:


Lots of great feedback on the event, but  my favorite came from one of the contractor CEOs: 

Kevin Towns:

Beyond the occasional “topping-out party”, in my 41+ years of being in the steel business,I’ve never seen iron workers celebrated and appreciated in this way. I never cease to be amazed by these men and I’m proud to be associated with them. My hat’s off to you Rick Gilbert! Job well done!

That evening, eight years ago is one of the highlights of my retirement years. I wish these men well.









6 thoughts on “Remembering the Iron Workers

  1. Susan Page says:

    Their stories are amazing for sure. How wonderful for all of them and for you that you somehow happened on this profession and featured these guys and their work. I definitely had no idea anything about this incredible job. Thank you for this reminder.

  2. Dorothy Klein says:

    Wonderful work, Rick. I wish my crane operator Dad would have been filmed. But did I ask him, record him, even write about him? Thanks for this.

  3. jim hunolt says:

    seeing and honoring the courage, integrity, willingness, and grace in others takes a great eye and a generous spirit….bravo, rick!

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