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They call me ‘Plumb Bob’: From dawn to dusk with Adventist Health

Together inspired, 2018, Inspiring Stories , Community Connections

On January 18, 2018, Bob “Plumb Bob” Harter showed up to work on the new campus headquarters of Adventist Health Roseville. But it was not just another workday for this seasoned ironworker: It was the day he would meet a few members of the Adventist Health leadership team as they signed a beam that would be installed as part of the new campus structure. This was more than a celebration for leadership, but a celebration for Bob: Not only is he part of the crew for the new campus, but he was also part of the crew for the original Adventist Health corporate campus, located on Douglas Boulevard, in 1984.

“I was an apprentice ironworker on that first campus,” says Bob. “That was the first time I got to physically connect iron together. I really wanted to do that, so it was great!” After this project, Bob was the Apprentice of the Year and says much of what he learned came from the original Adventist Health project. “That was a great environment for me to learn in as a young man.”

And 34 years later, as he starts thinking of retirement, Bob believes the Adventist Health Roseville project was fate. “It’s as though I started out at dawn and I’m ending up at dusk with Adventist Health,” he says. “It all went by so fast—time speeds up as you get older!”

Bob “Plumb Bob” Harter grew up in Roseville, and has watched it evolve from a small railroad town to a suburban retail hub. In fact, Bob grew up just a few blocks from the site of the new Adventist Health headquarters at North Sunrise Avenue and Stone Point Drive. He recalls a time when the freeway seemed vast and vacant, and the roads were lined with nothing but empty fields. He spent hours in his home garage, with his dad, building cars. In fact, he and his brother both built their own first cars, a 1934 Ford Coupe and a 1940 Ford Deluxe. “From the time I was three years old, we were building cars in our garage in that house in Roseville,” he says. “We were lucky.”

When he retires, Bob says he will build hot rods. He has a few projects—a 1936 Hudson Terraplane and a 1964 Volvo sportscar, to be exact—waiting for him when he decides to officially retire. But even after over 34 years in the trade, it will take a lot to get Bob to hang up his construction hat. He “retired” for five years in the early 1990s, after a serious injury on the job that required facial reconstruction surgery.

“I was hit in the head by a part of a rig on a crane—it knocked me 13 feet across the roof of a building and 19 feet to the concrete ground below, where I landed on my face. After recovering, the doctors told me I was a walking, talking miracle,” says Bob.

Five years after his injury, Bob’s resilience and passion for his career resurfaced and he returned to work. “I was excited to come back,” he says. “To be honest, when you’re a guy like me, working is like chicken soup for the soul. I was too young to be sitting around, and I lost a lot of my self-confidence. When I came back it made me feel proud that I was back in it, working with my buddies and having fun.”

Today, Bob is more than happy to be working on the new Adventist Health campus. He feels like it’s fate. “After the prayer at the beam signing, I felt like it was God’s will that I be there. I always figured there was a reason I stuck around!” He says.  

What’s the meaning behind his nickname, “Plumb Bob”?

In construction, “plumb” refers to lines that are perfectly vertical, and a “plumb bob” is a lead weight that helps form that perfect line. “They call me ‘Plumb Bob’ because I’m the guy that aligns the buildings—I’ve been doing it for a long time and I’m good at it!” says Bob. And if you’re wondering if he also enjoys wearing plumb as a color, the answer is, “No, I prefer blue.”

Bob is eager to see the new Adventist Health headquarters complete, and to watch the company and city of Roseville grow even more. “It’s great to be part of a place that has gotten bigger and better. It’s nice to build something that ultimately helps people. That makes you feel proud that you were part of that project,” says Bob.

Adventist Health has become an integral part of the community in the past few decades—it’s the largest company headquartered and sixth largest employer in Roseville. Aspiring to create a campus that reflects the faith-based mission of providing health, wholeness and hope, Adventist Health is excited to bring its nearly-900 Roseville employees together in one, consolidated location. Not only will it bring its employees together, it will also be surrounded by a one-mile walking trail that connects to the cities’ Miners Ravine trail, for the whole community to enjoy. It will be the first building in the Sacramento area to be WELL and LEED certified—meaning that it will be energy efficient and a healthy environment for all employees. Bob is elated to be part of this progress.

But what does Bob love most about his job? “I just want to be there, outside,” he says. “The best feeling is when you drive to work when the sun is barely up, and you see that big crane in the air, that’s what I like. That’s where I want to be. That’s an ironworker.”

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For more information about the new Adventist Health Roseville campus, check out the campus development page here.