Editorial: 07.02.2024

J.L. Mickan Digs Into Solar Work

jl mickan

Growing up in the southern Missouri town of Annapolis, J.L. Mickan honed his skills in directional boring and horizontal auger boring while working for his dad’s construction business.

But at the age of 25, Mickan shifted his focus from taking over his dad’s business to broadening his expertise, and he started working at a larger civil construction company. “Honestly, I got tired of what I was doing, so I made a change,” he says.

When one of his new coworkers secured a position at Castle, he encouraged Mickan to follow suit. “At the time, Castle was looking for a sewer foreman so I applied, they hired me and I've been here ever since,” he says.

Since joining Castle in 2007, Mickan has served as a foreman on projects for clients ranging from Missouri American Water to Bayer. His core expertise is in underground utilities, including sewer systems and stormwater pipelines. “I'm the kind of guy who runs the job from the seat of an excavator,” he says. “That's how my dad taught me.”

In February of this year, Mickan transitioned to a position as general foreman on Casey Fork Solar, a 900-acre solar field under construction in Mount Vernon, Illinois. “I oversee a group of operators and laborers installing cable and working hand-in-hand with the electricians to support their needs,” he says.

Like Father, Like Son

Continuing the family tradition of paying it forward to the next generation, Mickan now supervises his son, Chance, who joined Castle as a laborer a couple of years ago. “He started his apprenticeship with me, and I taught him how to lay pipe and how to be a laborer the correct way,” he says. “When this opportunity arose, he switched from laying pipe to running the GPS. So we get to work together every day. It's a great experience.”

Since shifting his focus, Mickan has discovered the unique challenges of delivering solar projects. “The biggest challenge is building the right crew from scratch to effectively complete the job in a timely manner,” he says. “It is logistically demanding to get all the pieces to fall in the right place.”

As Mickan approaches his 18-year Castle anniversary, he knows exactly what has kept him satisfied. “What I love about Castle is that it’s very family oriented,” he says. “The company hasn't lost that family feel, but it's definitely bigger and the purse strings are a little looser. Castle always invests in good equipment and new technology to make our day-to-day jobs more efficient. I’m very thankful for that.”

Mickan’s permanent home is in Farmington, Missouri, about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The five-acre property includes a hobby farm operated by his wife, Candace. “It’s her hobby; I just fund it,” he jokes. The couple has two other children: a 17-year-old son, Ransom, and an 8-year-old daughter, Haven.

When he’s not working, Mickan and his family enjoy fishing, boating and hanging out on the the Black River near his hometown of Annapolis. “Most of my family is there, so we go down there a few times a month,” he says.


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