“The value of mentorship? You can’t put a price on that. It’s a life’s worth of lessons handed down, teaching you how to be a better person and better at life.”
Hard Work: A Path Away from a Hard Life
Turon White’s life could have gone any number of ways. After graduating high school in Virginia Beach, he returned to his Portland roots to find work. The pressures to go to college were heavy, but Turon wasn’t sure he wanted that life. He knew for certain he didn’t want a desk job, sitting in front of a computer all day. He didn’t want to end up flipping burgers in the back of a fast-food place. And he definitely didn’t want to follow the route he saw his housemates taking—a path of drug abuse and the underground economy.
Above all, he wanted more than just a job but a career path with the chance to earn more than minimum wage and opportunities to grow into leadership roles. But what options exist for an 18-year-old kid with no college degree?
Turon’s dad took note of his work ethic and determination to succeed—attributes he picked up from his mother who raised him alongside his two siblings while working hard to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. A longtime Portlander, Turon’s dad introduced him to Jeff Moreland, the owner of Raimore Construction, both a friend and distant cousin. Jeff gave Turon a job application, and the rest is history.
“Construction wasn’t really an avenue of thought for me,” Turon says. But it turned out to be exactly the career path he needed. “I loved it. I like being outside in the elements, I like being able to walk around, and if a pedestrian’s walking by, I like being able to talk to them about what’s going on. I can be social and still work.”
The path hasn’t been easy, especially because he started his career without any background or experience in construction. He had to learn the basics from the ground up, and he also had to grow up fast. “Everyday I’m out [on the jobsite], I’m learning something new, especially about how to be a man in society and in the world. Coming here at 18, I was very young in the mind, and it grows you up a lot to be out here with other grown men, seasoned guys—guys that don’t take crap.”
Raimore’s team culture gave him the blueprint for success, and he follows it. “You have people that care here, people who will take the time to train you. They really care about the people they hire.”
Turon has benefited from mentoring by colleagues with decades of work and life experience to impart, and he listens to their advice readily. “If you’re being professional, there’s not much room to get in trouble, and you can stand in that,” he says of some of the best advice he has heard. “The value of mentorship? You can’t put a price on that. It’s a life’s worth of lessons handed down, teaching you how to be a better person and better at life. It makes me excited when they tell me something and I get it, it gives you hope. That’s the value of mentorship: it gives you hope.”
Through his hard work and professionalism, he became a foreman in just a few years, and now he manages teams of men older than he is. “It’s a challenge [to manage a crew], but I’ve always wanted to accept that challenge. The main thing is just knowing your crew, knowing what they’re good at and knowing what positions you can put them in to help them succeed because if they’re succeeding, you’re succeeding and vice versa: if they’re failing, you’re failing. That’s the main thing about being a foreman.”
He now tries to help other young people see the freedom that a construction career can buy. “Raimore’s been a complete blessing in my life. I’m trying to tell my little cousins now who are out of high school, in their early twenties: if y’all ain’t got nothing else to do, you ought to come here. I can at least put a bug in their ear, just try it. Even if it doesn’t work, just give it a try.”
Looking back now, he sees clearly how his life departed from the lives of the housemates with whom he lived eight years ago. He has stability, he has financial freedom, he isn’t worried about getting into trouble with the law for drug use or dealing, and he has big dreams for the future: to buy a house with an ample backyard so his dog can run free. Already, he’s well on his way to achieving that dream.
“Don’t be scared to try—don’t be scared to bet on you.”