Westphal Leaves Lasting Impact on Michels, Trenchless Industry

Michels recently announced that trenchless industry icon Robert Westphal died.

Westphal devoted 55 years of his life to Michels, pushing the company’s performance and the pipeline and trenchless construction industries’ potential to higher levels. Dale Michels hired him in April 1965 as a laborer. Westphal quickly established himself as a great leader, generous mentor and valued friend to those he worked with, including the Michels family.

Robert Westphal
Robert Westphal

“It is our belief that the strength of his successors defines a leader’s true success,” says Pat Michels, president and CEO of Michels Corp. “In that regard, Bob was the best. He was selflessly devoted to improving the abilities and skills of those who worked with him.

“Throughout the decades, I have had the privilege of calling Bob my boss, my mentor, my colleague and my friend. He had a major impact on me in each of those roles.”

In his career, Westphal filled many roles, including laborer, operator, foreman, superintendent, general superintendent, vice president, senior vice president and, at the time of his death, senior construction adviser. He helped guide Michels’ development and execution of strategic business initiatives domestically and internationally.

Westphal was also a valued member of many industry organizations. In 2019, he was inducted into the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) Hall of Fame and was named Trenchless Technology Person of the Year in 2011. He was also an active member of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA), where he served on the board of directors for 13 years and as president in 2005. In 2018, he was named an honorary member.

Westphal’s legacy will leave a significant impact on Michels and the industry he loved. He is survived by his wife, Jone; his sons, Scott, Jeff, Matt and Chad; many other family members; and his large extended family at Michels.


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