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Award of Excellence: Getting Close to Mr. Jones

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Photo by William Widmer
Reporter-videographer Tom Sawyer traveled by boat to the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel surge barrier wall to see the work of Traylor Bros. Project Manager Wayne Jones.
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One of the premier assignments for ENR editors is writing the profile of the Award of Excellence winner, says Tom Sawyer, the ENR senior editor who wrote this year's story.

Sawyer nominated Traylor Bros. project manager Wayne E. Jones for consideration as an ENR Newsmaker last fall and then championed him for the top award in December. In the competitive selection process, all ENR editors vote for the newsmaker who has best served the industry and the public. 

Jones—and the extraordinarily high regard others hold for him—first came to Sawyer's attention while Sawyer was developing stories with longtime New Orleans correspondent Angelle Bergeron. Jones figured in stories about the replacement bridge across Biloxi Bay after Hurricane Katrina and the labor of spinning up and delivering the massive storm surge barrier. Sawyer also heard about Jones through his colleagues at Traylor Bros.

"I love the AOE assignment," says Sawyer. "It means hitting the road and spending time with your subject and trying to get to know him or her on a personal, rather than just a project or professional level." Sawyer spent time with Jones at the Traylor headquarters in Evansville, Ind., discussing his approach to work and interviewing colleagues. Then they met in New Orleans where Jones showed him finished projects and jobsites. Sawyer met and interviewed friends and professional associates and gathered the images and videos for this year's AOE profile.

"I call it hunting and gathering," Sawyer says. There were additional trips to develop materials and many hours of e-mail and phone work.

Sawyer's field work shifted to a team effort with ENR's Art Director Richard Demler to create the look and feel of the magazine layout and also with staff multimedia editor Luke Abaffy, with whom Sawyer worked many hours crafting this year's AOE video. See it on ENR.com.

Sawyer says Jones is spare with words but often uses stories to convey guidance. After time spent together, Sawyer clearly saw how Jones' stories convey his understanding of people and management. Sawyer was also struck by the way he is respectfully addressed as "Mr. Jones."

Sawyer's favorite affirmation of the appropriateness of the award came when he heard that the bywords on the surge barrier project, whenever challenges arose, were, "What would Wayne do?'"

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