I’m the type of guy who likes to roll up my sleeves and fix things, plus I love helping people. I’ve been this way since I was kid. When I was a teenager, I rebuilt engines and wanted to be an auto technician (fix things). I also sold tools over the phone and had a stint at Pizza Hut (helping people). When you’re young, you can’t predict how your interests will turn into a career, but I can look back now and see a direct through line from my early career aspirations to where I am now. And I can also see a consistent motivation throughout all my career choices: being of service.
Ask for What you Want
My first job was at a Ford dealership working on cars at a low level. I worked mainly on brakes and front end and learned everything I could. After a while, I wanted to buy a house, so I knew I had to transition into a Service Advisor or Manager to move my career and income along. I pitched the Manager at my dealership on being mentored in writing service orders for cars, and soon I was both writing service and doing the service.
The balance of delivering customer service and doing technical service was ideal for me. I don’t think I’m alone in being someone who has enjoyed being promoted to management roles while also missing field work, no matter the industry. The chef who opens a restaurant may still miss the rapid-fire energy of working in the kitchen and inventing dishes. The school principal surely gets to positively impact the lives of students, but they may miss the classroom and being able to actively watch students pick up new concepts.
The truth is that these skills are not mutually exclusive. At all. As a Service Manager at a car dealership, my technical knowledge of cars brought that much more credibility to my recommendations to car owners. Not only that, I also had the respect of the technicians in the shop because I had come up through the same ranks.
Stick to Your Values
Eventually, my love of machines called back to me, and I realized I wanted to be a technician again. That’s when I came to Duthie Power, and I loved it. I soon was offered a promotion to be the Service Manager, and I admit I was nervous about added stress. But my values so align with those of Duthie – a commitment to honesty, serving customers and keeping employees happy – that I accepted the job.
This year, I was promoted to a new position – Head of Quality Assurance. As with any shift in job title, I’ve been challenged to grow and explore new responsibilities. This may sound like a given, but one the biggest reasons I enjoy this job is because I’m allowed to be really good to our employees and really good to our customers. Being of service is what motivates my work. At Ford even, I always stayed in the top 5% of the customer satisfaction index because my career depended on it. Working with customers is where you really grow, too.
My time at car dealerships taught me how to stay calm and diffuse a situation when customers are upset. In fact, I’ve made some of my best customers that way. Because when there’s a problem and the customer sees you step up and really go out of your way to resolve it, it’s a memorable customer experience and that’s what keeps them loyal.
Finding your Career Home
The majority of Duthie’s technicians now have been hired by me. We’ve doubled the technicians and tripled the revenue since I stepped into the Service Manager role. As the new Head of Quality Assurance, I look forward to bringing similar growth to the quality of our services. In fact, one of my priorities is to build a program with Long Beach City College to train future technicians. Not only do we care about our community here in Long Beach, but we also want to empower the next generation of people who want to work in engineering and mechanics.
Of course, there are certain idiosyncrasies when working for a family-owned business, but overall, I prefer it. I’ve worked for big corporate entities before, and it wasn’t for me. The Duthies are decent people, and I never really felt a home in my career until I worked here.
From the teenager who liked fixing cars and making friends, I’ve become an expert technician of cars and generators who has the honor of “being of service” to customers all over Southern California. Duthie Power believes everyone should have access to affordable power, and it’s my job to inspire my team to give customers that access each and every day. I’m nowhere near retiring and can’t tell you where my career will head next, but I do know that if I stay true to my values, the work will be rewarding.
How have your values guided your career? And how do you define “being of service?” I’d love to know in the comments!
This article was originally published by Randy Gross through LinkedIn.