A passionate volunteer and campaign manager for United Way
Joe Laughlin is a Supervisor, Project Engineer at Elliot Group in Jeanette, PA. He lives with his wife and two children in Latrobe, PA.
Are you from Southwestern PA?
I am from Erie, PA but much of my family lives in Southwestern PA. I spent much of my childhood driving down I-79 to visit family. One thing you probably don’t hear too often—I’ve always enjoyed coming to Pittsburgh during the winter for the comparatively better weather.
Why did you choose to make Southwest PA your home?
Apart from having family in the area and working here, we love our rural house in the Laurel Highlands, especially the community surrounding our local church in Latrobe.
How did you choose the career you’re in today?
I graduated college with a specialization in nuclear engineering. The timing was unfortunate. The nuclear industry was just beginning to realize the business impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Layoffs became pervasive in the industry. After months of searching for a career alternative, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity at Elliott Group. It allowed me to re-enter the field of heavy machinery and manufacturing I had enjoyed during a previous internship. I’ve been with Elliott for 8 years now.
What do you love most about your job?
Elliott makes heavy equipment for customers all around the world. There are never two shop orders exactly alike. Each shop order requires the efforts of many people, and Elliott is a company that attracts and develops some of the finest talent. The work culture and people are especially wonderful aspects of the organization.
Why do you volunteer with United Way?
I was approached to run the United Way campaign at Elliott. While I was enthusiastic about the opportunity, I only developed true appreciation later as I had the opportunity to interact with the United Way agencies that work in the community. Agencies such as Union Mission and Life-Way Pregnancy Center have a clear impact on the Latrobe community. Truly, there are people at these agencies that make it their life’s work to help others. These local heroes and heroines have inspired me to double down on my own efforts. But even so my efforts are modest in comparison, these agencies are so important to our community and I regret that I was not as aware of their great work before volunteering with the United Way.
What’s your favorite United Way memory?
I had such a great adventure on Day of Caring 2019, working at the Otto & Magdalene Ackermann Nature Preserve. It was a great day enjoying the trails and scenery, trimming the invasive species along the way, and cutting fallen trees. But our greatest accomplishment was removing a rusted-out car from the middle of the woods! We worked as a team to find innovative ways to clear and haul the debris.