In all my years as a father, I never had a better week than this one. Both of my kids, Thomas and Lauren, were just promoted in their respective jobs. Lauren has parlayed her degree in Hospitality Management into an assistant manager’s position at a well-respected country club and Thomas is now a Process Engineering Tech at Garmin. In Lauren’s case, she took the modern approach with a bachelor’s degree program but Thomas did it the old-fashioned way by working his way up. I could not be any prouder of them than I am right now. I would like to think their upbringing was the main reason for their success but then they wouldn’t be getting enough credit for how hard they work.
In Thomas’s case, he suffered through three and a half years of online tech support at Garmin. He calmly answered every ignorant question and took every bit of abuse he could accommodate in his best attempt to make Garmin’s customers happy. When Garmin asked for volunteers from any department to lend a hand in manufacturing he was eager to volunteer. After some basic training in soldering and printed circuit assembly they put him right into the avionics manufacturing line. For those of you who think all electronics are manufactured in Asia let it be known, the FAA requires that aircraft components like the touchscreen, cockpit control panels Garmin makes are only manufactured here in the States. Apparently, the FAA thinks our quality control is much better, especially when it comes to critical equipment. The day he told me about this requirement will always stick in my mind. He was profoundly impacted by the realization that he was part of the team that builds the world’s best control panels and that his work might be the difference between life and death for some pilot.
From that moment on, I prayed for him to get the opportunity to stay in manufacturing. After 3 months in production, they sent him back to the call center and we all held our breath as the HR department tried to figure out a way to change the budget numbers to account for the transfer of a few employees from one division to another. Another month went by before he got his permanent transfer. From that moment, I knew he was on his way. He took to manufacturing like a duck to water. He made friends with all the Asian women who are experts at electronics assembly and they in turn shortened his learning curve by teaching him their best practices. He volunteered to be the first to be trained on any new equipment and pestered the engineers with a myriad of questions. He must have worn them down with his inquisitive nature because now he’s officially in the engineering department at Garmin, complete with his own office. I have never seen him happier and more motivated. He’s even going back to college in the fall to start working on his engineering degree, which will be paid for by the company. The defining moment of this transition was last week when he went out and bought himself new jeans, without any holes in them. For the first time in almost 28 years, I think my work is done.
I just have one request. As compensation for my 28 years of R&D, testing, marketing research and HR counseling for my two prodigies, I think it would be nice if Garmin made me their field tester for the automotive division. I’m perfect for this job. I drive 7 days a week, to places that no map has marked, in every kind of weather and with kids who desperately need to find their way home. Garmin could give me every new unit to test for accuracy, reliability and user friendliness and I could give them map corrections and user feedback. I know this is blatant self-promotion but if I don’t ask, who will? I gave them my best work, a young man with every character trait they look for and a burning desire to make Garmin even better by making it his career choice. All I want in return is their best stuff for the purpose of making my job easier in exchange for valuable information they can use to improve their product line. It seems like a very fair deal to me, now who do I need to talk to?
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