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Kai Jonasson

Age: 37. Piling operative / cutting, Hercules Grundläggning, Sweden

This article is also available in: Swedish

Route to the job
I studied economics at high school along with communications and media studies, with an eye on going into advertising. But things change, after my military service I worked at the pile factory in Uppsala until 1992. I then started a bicycle company which I ran for six years until going back to Hercules, this time on the construction side where they needed outdoor people on pile drivers. From there it was just a short step to pile cutting.
My training in this field has been through internal courses covering areas from soil science, underpinning, welding, pile driver training, to hot jobs, and heart and lung resuscitation... everything in fact! At one time I was on a training course every month. It was fantastic, I learnt a great deal and had plenty of new strings to my bow every time I got back.

A typical day
I work on a hydraulic caterpillar pile cutting machine all over Sweden. It means plenty of time in my car! Sometimes I have to set off in the middle of the night to get to some site early in the morning. I drive there and contact the surveyor and site manager, introduce myself and hand out my leaflets. I then cut as many piles as they need, check everything is done and approved and then head off, sometimes straight to another site. My work hours are very irregular, but that is up to me. The most important thing is that the job gets done. At most I am usually on a site for one or two days, except for really big projects when I can be there for a week at a time. If there isn't any pile cutting to do, I work with normal piling.

Highs and lows
I have a great deal of freedom with responsibility! That suits me down to the ground as I prefer to work independently and be completely my own manager.
I can have problems when things are not ready for me to start when I arrive to do a booked job. That can mess up my entire weekly schedule. If I get delayed on a project I have to make up the time somehow so as not to be late for my next assignment. This is particularly important when it involves external customers, otherwise we may not get any more business from them in the future. But I can handle stress and it's part of my nature to step up a gear and press on till I am finished.
Another thing that can cause problems is bad weather and I have a long journey ahead of me. In which case I have to be wary of more haste, less speed!

Right now I am working on building up a larger contact network to give the pile-cutting machine an even higher profile. Even though it is 15-years old many customers are surprised when they see it. A bigger customer base means more working hours for the machine and more revenue for the company. And when Hercules earns more, the more likely I am to still have a job. It is as simple as that. I love my job, it is perfect for someone who is a bit restless like me and who doesn't want to be forever sitting still in one place.

Never be afraid of getting stuck in. If you find yourself in slush and snow, standing around simply freezing and shivering will only make it worse. You have got to stay motivated, take things step by step and forget about the wind and weather and you will soon get the job done.To cope with being out on the road, you have to be active rather than sitting in your caravan staring at the ceiling. You have to get out and about - to anywhere, opera, theatre, cinema, concerts, jogging - something that is totally divorced from work so you can free your mind and think about something else. You mustn't spend all day in a dirty hole and then veg out in a trackie in your caravan and then put your overalls back on and out again. I think you would end up brain dead in no time. There are loads of things to see around the country!