“Whatever you need.” You hear Mike Ciarlo say that a lot in his busy dispatch office, a glass-walled perch that overlooks tidy aisles of trucks and equipment at the company’s South Main repair facility. Mike aims to please. It’s his nature.
He abruptly lost his position managing a freight terminal in 2002 when his employer closed the doors. A short time later Mike spotted O&G’s ad for a dispatcher. Right after a shift at his temporary night job he threw on a sport coat and drove to South Main to interview. The rest, you could say, is happy history.
For the last dozen years Mike has served as the company’s central dispatcher. Unlike other dispatchers around the company who have a specific turf (sending loads of material out of a quarry, for instance), Mike responds to requisitions from anywhere in the company, organizing and sending workers, machinery and tools anywhere they’re needed.
Dispatch at South Main is simple supply and demand in action, with plenty of curveballs thrown in. Mike is the master of it. On the “demand” side he works very closely with Leo Nardi, the company’s General Superintendent who has an intimate knowledge of all the job sites, what equipment and tools are going to be needed at each, and when. On the “supply” side Mike works very closely with Vice President Jim Zambero, who ensures that the company’s wheeled and tracked vehicles are operational. Mike is the funnel through which supplies that meet demand are meted out.
One fundamental of excellent dispatching is understanding priorities. Because he does, Mike takes what would be a heavy burden off Nardi: “I don’t have to explain much to Mike. If he’s got a question he calls me but other than that he knows what to do.”
On any given day at six when he starts work, Mike reviews the day’s list of a half-dozen pieces of equipment Nardi expects to be moved from site A to site B in the next 24 hours. He organizes the equipment drivers and trucks for maximum efficiency. He has come to automatically know what equipment can fit what trailers and where those trailers are. He knows all possible routes and which ones will require a permit to use. If denied a particular route, Mike might talk it over with the three or four people at ConnDOT in charge of permitting with whom Mike has cultivated a smooth working relationship with over the years.
When he hits an impasse and can’t get all the pieces of his moving puzzle to drop into place, he’ll develop a work-around with Zambero and Nardi to meet the need. “I’ll work it from there,” he says. Teamwork breaks any log jam.
Mike is insistent on you knowing that his dispatch function is just one link in a longer supply chain that keeps job sites and facilities up and running. He brags about the guys in the yard – Bob Puzacke and Richie Thibault – who are like librarians of tools and equipment. “I’ll tell them what I need, like a certain light plant or jack hammer. They’ll know right where its stored and load it into whatever vehicle I request.” (Puzacke does not relish the days he fills in for Mike, gluing himself to the dispatch chair ; – he smirks and calls it, “sitting in the electric chair.”)
Parts runners Frank Downey and Dave Desrochers are essential members of the team, too. “This morning Frank was at H.O. Penn’s door when they opened at seven to pick up the parts we called in the afternoon before. The Waterbury asphalt plant was down. He had them there a half-hour later.” Lisa Gilbert Zambero and Sharon Banelli, administrators at South Main, complement Mike’s dispatch work as they deftly catalog, file and otherwise manage the cascade of paperwork flowing from his office.
Mike fields lots of late-day panic calls: something breaks and it needs to be fixed or replaced right away. Many of the calls come from a production plant where, for instance, a motor quits and a replacement needs to get from South Main to Stamford immediately. Mike knows how important his quick response is. “They have to be running or our customers are affected – they don’t get what they need and we don’t make any money.” That’s when Mike can get very inventive. The dump body of a triaxle, the landscaper’s truck, the trunk of his personal car – all have seen service as delivery vehicles at the eleventh hour.
Zambero, who knew Mike was the right man for the job the minute he interviewed him, “gets” Mike. “You’ll ask him for something and he starts to shake his head ‘no,’ but that’s just his schtick. He’s got to rib you first. But you’ll get what you need. Mike’s a conscientious company guy.”
Nardi obviously appreciates what Mike does. “Michael’s a friend to all. He’s helpful to all. When you work with him you have a sense of trust. Everybody always gets what they need.” (That could even include an Italian hot pepper or two plucked off the plants he tends in his office.)
“I’m just a phone call away – I always tell the guys that. Whatever you need.”