If you were planning to build a new house, what materials would you consider using? Bricks? Wood? How about Styrofoam? Yes, Styrofoam: that squishy substance used in coffee cups and disposable plates. When innovative homeowner Bill Dielman, a traffic manager in the Purchasing Division, decided to build a new home for his family, he chose a design using Styrofoam blocks. The house, located near Monticello, is the second home that Dielman has constructed himself. In addition, Dielman volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and last year helped build a new home for a family in DeLand. A graduate of Purdue University with a degree in agriculture business management, Dielman has worked for the UI for more than 18 years.
Tell me what a traffic manager does.
My main responsibility is providing the University with needed transportation services, which range from transportation of Air Express letters and small packages to truckloads of computer servers and bulk fuel. I establish transportation contracts, generally through the RFP bidding process, and handle contract administration.
Other commodities I am responsible for in the procurement process include: aircraft and aviation supplies, farm animals and associated equipment, duty-free entry applications, feed, seed and fertilizer, household goods and waste disposal (general, chemical, hazardous and nuclear). When vendors are shipping materials into the university and need insurance, I coordinate that through Risk Management. I also handle loss and damage claims.
A major part of our responsibility is assisting departments when they have problems with transportation issues. Anything that is being imported from other countries must be cleared through U.S. Customs, and I coordinate clearance with our import broker. Some shipments require approval by the FDA, the state Board of Health or other government agencies. I’m the point of contact for the broker and facilitate the transfer of information needed to clear the shipments.
What’s the most interesting part of what you do?
The variety. It’s probably been the most interesting job I’ve had during my career. There’s never a dull moment; something new is always coming up that I haven’t seen or done before. Some of the most rewarding activities that I do involve assisting departments with moving new employees into the area.
What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not working?
I am on the Monticello District CUSD 25 School Board and serve as secretary.
Construction. I’m a site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity in Monticello. I’m on the Champaign/Piatt County Habitat board here in Champaign as the representative for Piatt County.
I was the construction supervisor for a house that we built in DeLand. I think we started construction in August last year, and the owner moved in on Christmas Eve.
I also built one and a half houses for my own family. We built an earth-berm home. I had the contractors shell it, and we finished it. About 10 years later, we built a home out of concrete and Styrofoam blocks, and I did much of that myself. There are 4-foot long blocks of Styrofoam that are 8 inches or 10 inches wide. You put them together like LEGO (blocks) and then pour concrete in the centers. It’s real energy efficient. Worst case, you may lose your roof in a high wind, but you’re never going to lose the house.
Where did you get the idea for constructing that type of house?
At a dinner we went to, some young couple was talking about it. So I investigated it, penciled the figures. I discussed it with a friend of mine who’s an engineer and decided to try it. I don’t mind change. I like to do new things. We’re pretty happy with it.
It took actually about five months to build it, and probably another 10 years to get it finished. There are always little things here and there that you have to go back and finish. My wife will never go camping with me again. We had to sleep in the garage for three months because when we sold our other house, the new one wasn’t ready.
I also raised ostriches for about five years. We bought the breeding stock from Larry Lutz, (a UI retiree who raises ostriches). They’re desert animals, so they’re used to wide fluctuations in temperature. They weren’t that much work; it just wasn’t that profitable. The meat looks like beef; it’s low in fat and very healthy. The problem is you’ve got to sell it for $4 a pound to make a profit, and nobody wants to pay that price for meat.