I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years and 5 months as a Human Resources Professional. When I retired from the service in September of 2020, I wanted to work for a company where I could utilize my comprehensive communication skills, reliable work ethic, motivated productivity, and loyalty to a team. I wanted to work somewhere I could be successful just like I was in the military. I found just that at Continental’s tire plant in Sumter, SC.
I have worked at Continental for 16 months. Much to my surprise, the tire manufacturing industry is like the military. It requires attention to detail, self-sacrifice, and triumph over adversity. We have the lives of others in our hands. What we do and what we do not do could mean the difference between life or death. It is a mission I am familiar with. As a military Human Resources Professional, I executed personnel programs, typed casualty reports, prepped death notification teams, prepared the remains of fallen Airmen, and organized their funerals. At Continental, I am responsible for the morale, welfare, and employee engagement of the people who are responsible for manufacturing tires. Every tire they make will go on a car or truck that will soon be on the open road. They could even go on my husband’s truck. The same truck my son rides in every day. I take this responsibility seriously. The military taught me to do so. The military was not just a job for me. Neither is working at Continental.
Raymond Troy, a labor trainer for the Apex/Bead department in Sumter, credits the military for his dedication to the employees. “The military taught me to look out for my fellow man. Living out the Continental core value of For One Another is how I do that here.” Raymond served in the Army for nine years during the Gulf War. When I asked him what three skills the military taught him that have helped him to have a successful career at Continental, he said, “Discipline, how to communicate, and to stay firm in my beliefs.” Raymond has been with Continental for seven years.
Sean Keyes, the Maintenance Supervisor for the ContiSeal and ContiSilent department in Sumter, joined Continental before it was even a plant. He has worked with us for nine years. Sean served in the Air Force/Air National Guard for a total of 22 years. When I asked him why he has stayed at Continental for so long, he said, “The benefits are great. This is the best compensation and benefits package I have had outside of the military. There are also so many opportunities to advance and learn new things.” Sean also stated that he has built friendships with colleagues all over the globe and the suppliers that he works with. He said, “I had that comradery in the military and now I have it at Continental.” Sean is a member of the Veterans Resource Group at Sumter and has become a mentor of mine. When asked what he learned in the military that helps him be successful here, he said, “I maintained aircrafts in the military. I was taught to do the job right the first time. Temporary fixes were not allowed. I have taken that same mentality and applied it here. People are depending on me to get it right the first time. That is what I instill in my team.”
Gary Anspach, the Test and Validation Supervisor for the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems department in Auburn Hills, Michigan, credits his six years of military service in the Navy for his ability to work with a team in high pressure situations. Gary also believes that his exposure in the Navy to different management styles prepared him for the diverse employees he gets to lead every day at Continental. After the Navy, Gary wanted to join a company that could provide him a detailed career path and membership in a community like the military. He found that at Continental. Gary has worked with us for six years.
Mecca Eaton, a Human Relations Training Specialist at Sumter, retired from the United States Air Force after serving 20 years. She started her career at the Sumter plant as a temporary employee in the Environment, Health, and Safety Department. Mecca became a permanent employee after six months and has been promoted three times in six years. The military taught Mecca the importance of a training and development process, how the change management cycle is crucial to effective company growth, and why organization and structure is needed daily. Mecca enjoys working at Continental because of the people she is surrounded with every day. She loves her Human Relations team and how she gets to interact with everyone in the plant on a consistent basis. This is not just a job for Mecca either. The Air Force taught her that everything she does and does not do could mean someone’s health, safety, and even life. She has transferred that mentality to Continental and works tirelessly to improve the training of production employees. Mecca is dedicated to shaping the future here at Continental.
My teammates and I hung up our uniforms and joined Continental to continue serving our country in a different capacity. Continental’s core values are every Veteran’s core values. The military instilled in us that Trust is the basis for everything we do and a prerequisite for our success. We also learned that having a Passion to Win is crucial to being the best by Land, Sea, Air, and Space. Lastly, For One Another is the cornerstone of our military service. From the very beginning of our service, we learned that the person to the right and left of us is our brother and sister in arms. They are our family. We did what it took to protect our family. This is no different for us today at Continental.
Today, on Veterans Day, I am thankful to everyone who has served and continues to serve our country in the military. I am also thankful that Continental has provided me the opportunity to continue to serve my country. I had a successful career in the Air Force and look forward to continuing that success with a company that works tirelessly to shape the future and where every individual contribution counts.