Jerome Marcell works as a pipeline inspector 360 days a year. “I only take time off for Christmas,” he says. This work ethic came from both his mother and a friend of the family, who gave him his first job. When Jerome was 11 years old, his father, also a pipeliner, was killed on the job. “It was just my mom and I,” he recounts. “When I was 17, I started working with a fellow that was like my big brother. And he said, ‘you’re going to start pipelining.’ I graduated high school on a Friday and on Monday I was pipelining.”
Jerome says he wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. “I am glad it turned out that way because it taught me work ethic, and I’ve continued working in the same way.”
Jerome driving his truck home after work
That hard-working attitude is what made his displacement during COVID-19 tough to take. “They just called us all and put us in a meeting room, sat us down, and said they couldn’t keep us. I was shocked. It kind of hurt, being left without work like that,” he says.
Now he’s continuing his 45-year career in pipeline with Workrise. His time in the field has taught him a lot. “Communicating was the most important thing I learned. If you don’t have communication across the whole pipeline, that’s where people get hurt.”
Both pipelining and ranching run in Jerome’s family, and he says they aren’t that different when it comes to the need for responsibility, respect for your peers, and a sense of community. He grew up on his uncle’s ranch in Louisiana, helping with the cattle.
When we did something, we did it together. I help you, you help me. It was a deal like that, and I find with pipelining it’s the same way.Jerome M.
Jerome near a pump jack in North Texas
He raised his three sons to be ranchers and skilled workers, as well. “My younger one welds on the farm but he rodeos big time. He’s rodeoing every day. My middle son pipelines and rodeos on the weekend. My oldest welds in San Antonio,” he says.
Though he’s proud of his sons’ careers as professional rodeos, he’s also happy they have college degrees in agriculture to fall back on. “I told them, ‘You have to have something else besides rodeo, because if something happens what are you going to depend on?’.”
Jerome inside his home
It’s the same advice he would tell young people today wanting to join the pipeline field. “First thing I’d tell them is to go get an education,” he says. That’s because today it’s harder to get training on the job like he did 45 years ago. “Back then, 90% of the crew was family, and you pretty much would get taught real quick. Today, if contractors hire you they expect you to know what to do.”
Though the learning curve can be difficult to navigate, Jerome says pipelining is a great career that has allowed him to provide for his family. Now that they’re grown, he loves watching his sons Jacob and Blake rodeo in person or on TV. “I’ll call them and get on them if they mess up, but I’m very proud,” he says.