Self-dubbed the Chief Dirt Nerd, Aaron Witt is the CEO of BuildWitt, a services, media, and software company focused on infrastructure and mining. He shared what’s new in the World of Dirt and how stakeholders can meet today’s infrastructure demands by embracing the modern workforce.
“Who doesn’t want to help in literally shaping the world around them?”
What does the title “Chief Dirt Nerd” mean to you?
I made up the term “Chief Dirt Nerd” shortly after starting BuildWitt five years ago. It’s a nod to my love of the earthmoving industry. I identified LinkedIn as a powerful tool to help me tell the story of the Dirt World and I wanted a title that would stick out to people in the industry. Founder and CEO felt too cliche.
What interested you about the “Dirt World” and made you want to pursue a career in it?
The equipment and work itself is intoxicating. Who doesn’t want to help in literally shaping the world around them? But as I got more into it, I realized that the people are the best part. They work hard, solve problems, work together, battle the elements, and do whatever it takes to provide society with consistent food, water, and shelter.
What’s something new in the world of dirt that our readers should know about?
The opportunities. Over 40% of the industry is estimated to retire over the current decade. While it’s a major issue for companies, it’s also a huge opportunity for anyone wanting to make a great career out of building things. Many white-collar jobs are threatened by automation and technology, but the Dirt World? Not even close. Humans will always need infrastructure, and infrastructure will always be built by hard-working humans.
What should people who are investing in infrastructure (but maybe don’t work in the industry themselves) know about it?
It takes hard work and people to build infrastructure. There’s a lot of investment in infrastructure, but little investment in developing the workforce to build said infrastructure. I think if more people who did the investing spent time on job sites, they’d value the hard work to a higher degree. We already can’t keep up with the current level of spending. Until we approach training and recruitment differently, the industry can’t accommodate any additional capacity.
What are your predictions for America’s infrastructure over the next five years?
Demand will remain strong — we have a growing population and aging infrastructure in need of replacement. But I foresee a lot of pain as companies struggle to adapt to the modern labor market. Again, this is an opportunity. Forward-thinking companies can, for the first time, challenge the behemoths of the industry if they can solve the workforce equation.