What was your first job?
I started mowing yards and detailing cars around age 13, but my first “real” job was sorting mail for Mason and Dixon Lines. I arrived at 0600 before school started starting my sophomore year at Dobyns-Bennett.
How did you get your first job?
My father, Doyle, was Manager of Personnel (now called Human Resources) for Mason Dixon. As an aside, still to this day, I can proudly say that people tell me what a wonderful man he was which was followed by “Your Dad gave me my first chance … my first job”. Anyway, Dad frequently offered me opportunities to wash trucks, pick up trash, clean and stock the salvage store and other odd tasks.
How long did you work there?
Through high school graduation and then while in school at the University of Tennessee, I worked on the Mason Dixon docks at night where I was paid well. Much more importantly, I received a great piece of advice from several of the dock laborers during one of our midnight “lunches”: “Son, you may be making a decent wage right now, but don’t you even consider quitting school. Getting that UT degree will mean much more to your future.”
How much were you paid?
Most of the tasks were about $2.50/hour but the dock work paid $10/hour.
Tell us a bit about the job.
I sorted mail but was focused on finding checks, which I placed in boxes that were labeled with many different alphabet sorts; A-E, D-H, etc. When the accounts receivable department came in, each box was emptied and checks were matched with an invoice. Just like any business, Mason Dixon wanted to get their money in the bank quickly. Picking up trash doesn’t need to be explained, but I still do it today. Washing trucks required pressure washing. The Salvage Store held damaged items that Mason Dixon had paid for and wanted to recoup some of the cost. I cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed floors, ran the cash register and stocked the shelves.
What did you love about the job?
Doing it right because I shook my boss’s hand and said I would.
What did you hate about the job?
I didn’t “hate” anything about it. Early mornings and late nights, although challenging sometimes, trained my work ethic and were character builders which helped my Marine Corps career. I embraced the challenges and demands of serving in the USMC, which is proud to claim: “We do more by 5 a.m. than the rest of the world does all day”.
What do you do now?
President & CEO of the Kingsport Chamber.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
1) If you ever have to scrub a toilet with a toothbrush, do so with enthusiasm and when you finish, go help others scrub their toilets.
2) Don’t avoid adversity. It is life’s greatest teacher. Seek it. You will find an opportunity.