A native of the Bay Area, Aaron Stender is one of many generational WAMers. His father, Lee Stender, worked in Start Up for 20 years. Aaron started his career in our Sheet Metal Shop in 2009 and worked his way into our Start Up division. He says he enjoys the family aspect of WAM and likes the fact that you can know everyone on a first-name basis, because it creates an environment where everybody is approachable. When Aaron is not working, he loves spending time with his wife, Anna, and his two boys, AJ (4 years) and Kai (4 months). While in college, Aaron played for his school’s baseball team. A dream of his is to eventually coach his kids’ baseball team in order to spend quality time with them while teaching them his favorite sport. Aaron also likes to take trips to Lake Tahoe with his family where they like to snowboard, ride bikes, and relax together. A family ambition of theirs is to travel to Italy one day.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Aaron writes with his left hand AND is ambidextrous?
Suraj Thapa was born and raised in Nepal and eventually decided in 2007 to move somewhere in the U.S. at the ripe old age of 16. His first stop was a bullseye in the beautiful state of California! He eventually graduated from San José State with a Mechanical Engineering Degree with a minor in Business Administration. Suraj started with WAM as an intern which resulted in him being offered a full-time position based on his excellent performance. He says he loves working at Western Allied because although it is a growing company, it has still maintained its roots as a ‘family feel’ type of company. He believes that the core values of WAM are not just for show, but truly are the foundation and pillars of Western Allied. He says it’s the “people that shine in our company”. He went on to explain that because there are so many great personalities and amazing mentors between the office & field, the interactions with his fellow WAMers have never felt transactional. He also gave many examples of times where co-workers have taken their time to pass on their knowledge and experience to nurture every teachable moment.
In his free time, Suraj loves to play soccer, run, and just started to play golf. Mountains have always been a calling to him to return home for a hike, climb, or mountain bike excursion. He misses the landscapes and would like to enjoy the beautiful sights he took for granted when he was young.
Fun fact: Suraj is trilingual (Nepalis, English, & Hindi), has not seen Everest and is also 2006 Time Magazine person of the year! Don’t believe it? Look it up! 😊
Keith is one of our own Sheet Metal Foreman. He grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and moved to California in 1997 with his wife of 29 years Liz. He has two children, Kathleen (22 years) and Scott (20 years), that are just two weeks shy of being exactly two years apart in age! Keith started his journey in Sheet Metal right out of high school in 1988. He followed in his father’s footsteps, who worked in the SM Union. Though his journey working with Western Allied has many twists, stops, and forks in the road, he is so glad his journey ended here. If you were to ask Keith what he likes most about WAM, He would say without a doubt it’s WAM’s family environment. WAM is big enough to do some big, exciting projects, and small enough that you get to know everybody. He says he has worked for many contractors that he couldn’t tell you the Vice President or the CEO’s names. With WAM, he feels like the owners are all very approachable. Pete, Angie, and Zach – He could walk into any one of their offices and discuss a project with them. He has never felt that with any other contractors he has worked for. Keith has many hobbies including woodworking. His most recent project was working on the house that he bought two years ago. He just finished redoing all the cabinets in the house and is also renovating their Vintage 1966 Aristocrat Land Liner camp trailer. He converted the original gaucho bed into a dinette and made the original dinette into a full-time bed. He would love to take his Aristocrat across the United States! Another place he would like to travel to is the Caribbean.
Fun Fact: Did you know Keith enjoys partaking in pirate reenactments? He and his wife enjoy the fanfare, drink, and dress whilst at renaissance faires. Keith has used his wood-making craftsmanship skills to build his very own pillory. He dreams of traveling in his 66 Aristocrat up to Oregon and Washington to participate in the illustrious renaissance faires.
Rushang grew up in Mumbai, India. He came to the United States to achieve his master’s at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. After he graduated in 2018, he applied to many companies throughout the US. One day, Sallie gave him a call and the rest is history. He likes that Western Allied has an open and friendly working environment, and he feels like he can approach anyone to ask them anything. “There isn’t a stiff formal environment, everyone is approachable – it is an easy environment to work in”.
Outside of being a mechanical design engineer, Rushang loves to play badminton, soccer, and ping pong. He loves to hike and makes it a point to go on long hikes with his wife every other weekend. On Rushang’s must-see/travel to list, he says exploring the US is a must. He has eventual plans to see one new city every month so he can stay a few days, enjoy the local food, and explore what each city has to offer. The first stop will be Yosemite National Park, then on to San Diego.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Rushang has completed two half marathons? He didn’t even train for his first one – he just signed up and threw caution into the wind! He has a goal to run a full marathon once that is available.