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Aug. 19, 2022

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Working in Clark County: Katie Summers, quality control technician

By , Columbian staff writer
3 Photos
Katie Summers is a quality control tech at CEMEX in east Vancouver.
Katie Summers is a quality control tech at CEMEX in east Vancouver. (Natalie Behring/ The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The complex material beneath our feet and vehicles is something we take for granted. We know big trucks dump loads of it and then it magically transforms into highways, overpasses and country roads. Katie Summers, quality control technician for CEMEX, asks that we all consider that material for a moment.

“Next time you walk on a sidewalk or step onto an asphalt road, look down and recognize all the rocks within the oil or the cement,” Summers says. “It takes all shapes and sizes of rock to be accepted to making that final product, and that is what I do.”

Name: Katie Summers

Residence: Vancouver

Employer: CEMEX, 8705 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver;

Age: 39

Professional background: Since my dad has been a supervisor for large companies in the sand and gravel industry and worked his way up from the bottom, I’ve been very lucky to experience the fun firsthand. I’ve grown up around it. When I was a little girl, I used cardboard to slide down stockpiles of rock, and even took my Hot Wheels down, which was super fun.

When I graduated from Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Ore., I was confused as to what I really wanted to do. I considered being a nurse working with babies, but I was afraid of debt from student loans. I also thought being a beautician would be fun, but I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted for a career. So I became a telemarketer, where I was happy using my outgoing personality in a customer service-style position, while deciding on the right career path for myself.

Dad came home one day and told me of a job opening in the quality control department with Cemex and gave me the number for the person doing the hiring and I got an interview. Nineteen years later, I am here and love what I do. I’m still playing in the rocks.

I’m also required to keep a Certified Aggregates certification through the Oregon Department of Transportation. Every five years I take an exam on the final day of a weeklong class held in Salem, Ore.

Personal/business philosophy: I truly believe people should be noticed and recognized for what they do. This is especially needed for business success, remembering that life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how we react to it.

Most rewarding part of job: I love to make lasting relationships with customers and personnel, knowing they can count on me to create a positive outcome for everyone. Working alongside the production crews is very cool, and there is no end to learning new things every day.

Most challenging part of job: Giving every location the same attention in a timely manner. We are a very high-producing, multilocation company making several products, with each site needing to meet different guidelines for different projects.

What exactly you do: I go around to the sites and pull samples of product, which has already been through a size-separating and washing process, and bring them back to a testing lab. I’m looking to see if the material meets gradation by sieving through screens and calculating how much rock passes each size screen. I will also perform a fracture test on products for asphalt to determine that we have a high fracture percentage and that it meets specification for that test. In asphalt, we need this so the rock puzzles together. I also run tests to see how strong the rock is. There really is a lot of science to this. It’s always exciting to see the final product put into large bridges and roadways.

Your favorite travel destination and type: I absolutely love the coast or going over to eastern and central Oregon. The desert mountains and rivers are amazing. Road trips are the best.

Best feature of your Clark County community: We have it all! Parks, mountains, rivers, campgrounds — everything that makes the Pacific Northwest a great place.

What would make your community a better place: Less crime.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I absolutely love Wet Dog Brewery in Astoria, Ore.

Hobbies: Playing co-ed softball, cooking, fishing, camping.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: Seeing “A Christmas Carol” at the Portland Playhouse was pretty amazing.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Go on an Alaskan cruise.

One word to describe yourself: Outgoing.

Person you’d most like to meet: The man I’m meant to spend my life with.

Columbian staff writer

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