Welcome to our Meet the Team blog edition featuring Flexible Lifeline Systems President, Austin Townsend.
Q: How would you describe yourself in three words?
A: Honest, dedicated, and fair.
Q: How long have you worked with fall protection systems?
A: I’ve worked with fall protection systems in general since 1999. I was introduced to fall protection requirements while studying and working at Texas A&M to obtain a Construction Science degree. I worked with fall protection on a user-level at that time (only using the products), and remained at that level through my career in general construction. I started designing, installing, and servicing fall protection when I was hired at FLS in 2004.
Q: Tell me about how you got into your line of work.
A: I have always loved to build things, even as a kid. I took an interest any time my parents would be making something, and I always “had” to help my dad fix stuff around the house if it broke down. I learned to be pretty handy from an early age. My family has a long history with construction. One great-grandfather built his first house at 19 years old and it still stands today outside of Goldthwaite, TX. My maternal grandfather was in the steel fabrication business; my mother designed custom homes for years. Dad was a coach, but during his summers off from school he would do handyman jobs for people around town, and soon enough I was his helper. So, really I was born into it. It also didn’t hurt that during my time in college a Construction Science degree meant a near 100% employment rate for grads. I worked commercial construction for a few years before being recruited to FLS.
Q: Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?
A: Working at FLS has allowed me to work in a great variety of locations and industries: Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building, inside of hydroelectric dams & nuclear reactors, drill ships in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Slope of Alaska, Wheeler AAF Hawaii of 12/7/41 fame, inside the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, on top of the Capitol Building in Washington, and other various mines, plants, and manufacturing facilities. I’ve worked in all but four states, and countries outside of the U.S., including Guam, South America and all over the Caribbean. Each project and place is unique, the challenges change daily, and I derive satisfaction from confronting and overcoming these challenges.
Q: What is one thing many people don’t know about you?
A: Many people don’t know that I’m the head cook for a competition BBQ team. We participate in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo World’s Championship BBQ Cook-off, during which we typically feed over 4,000 people in a weekend and raise over $90,000 for the year.
Q: What is your favorite product/equipment at FLS and why?
A: The Flexrail in aircraft hangars because they are the most challenging projects. There are so many things that must come together correctly to get a complete and functioning finished product. Successful Flexrail projects tend to give me the most professional satisfaction.
Q: If there is one piece of advice you would give to someone about fall protection, what would it be?
A: Fall protection is an essential part of the safety of workers, just like eye protection, hard hats, gloves, and a safe environment. It is FLS’s job to deliver systems that make it easy for workers to use fall protection.