ROMULUS, MICHIGAN – August 21, 2019. "In the Driver’s Seat" is back and this month we're interviewing Sean, our Director of Operations at our terminal in Romulus, MI. Sean's been with us since January 2018, but involved in the transportation field for several years due, in part, to his service in the Air Force early in his career.
Director of Operations, Romulus Terminal, Sean M.
Thanks for taking time to chat with me today, Sean! Where did you grow up?
“I grew up in Taylor, MI, about five minutes away from Romulus,” said Sean.
What was the first job that you ever held?
“My first job was as a painter. I worked for my dad and grandpa,” he said. “They ran our family’s painting and design business. It was established in the 1940’s and we paint houses, do restorations, all that. I started working with them when I was seven or eight years old and continued all the way through high school.”
Did that leave you a lot of time to do extra-curricular activities when you were in school?
“Yes, I was a three-sport kid!” Sean exclaimed. “I played baseball, basketball, and I was a boxer.”
What did you do after you graduated high school?
“After I graduated, I enlisted in the Air Force,” said Sean. “I took a month off and toured Scotland. I have some family there, so I spent the month backpacking between relatives. I spent that month overseas, came back, and by Thanksgiving I was in the Air Force. That was back in 2005.”
I know from previous conversations that the Air Force got you into transportation. Tell me about that.
“I was a fuel specialist in the active duty Air Force and part of the Logistics Readiness Squadron. We were the complete, single-source fuel management for all military vehicles and aircraft.”
Sean preflight in front of a F-15 Eagle aircraft.
Did you deploy?
“Yes, I was deployed twice,” he said. “Once in 2008 and another time in 2014. First in 2008, I worked in the Fuels Distribution section. Our primary responsibility was the safe delivery of jet fuel to deployed and transient aircraft as well as ground vehicles and generators. In 2014, I was lucky enough to be a part of the Aerial Bulk Fuels Delivery System team where our primary mission was to deliver fuel to remote locations and, at times, isolated units who could not secure their own safe re-supply of fuel.
How long were you on active duty?
“I was active until 2015 and now I’m part of the Michigan Air National Guard, based in Battle Creek, MI. Today I’m the Fuels Planner for the 217th Air Operation Group, 217th Air Component Operations Squadron. Our primary task is mission planning, which includes creation and war gaming complex air tasking orders to the Joint Chiefs.”
While still on active duty, Sean contracted with the X-Games as an Event Manager for Free-Style Motocross.
That’s awesome! What did you do after the Air Force?
“After the Air Force, I got a job with a company that provides fleet fuel solutions,” Sean said.
How did you find out about Go-To Transport?
“The company that I worked for was leasing some office space from Go-To in the same building in Romulus where I work today. I ended up meeting owner, Gary Short, and making that connection. A few months later a job opened at Go-To, and the rest is history.”
I’m glad you found us!
“My previous position was understaffed and had me on-call 24/7 so this is much better.”
What is a typical day like for you?
“My primary focus is managing the terminal in Romulus to include all in and outbound freight and warehousing, but I tend to wear many hats these days,” he said. “I oversee all of our dedicated lanes, serve as a customer service representative for several of our accounts, and establish relationships with new potential customers. I also help recruit new drivers. None of this would be possible though without a great team behind me. Kris and Jason in the Romulus office both do great work and are often the first faces, or voices, our drivers encounter. Romulus, Bay City, Green Bay, and the Saginaw teams are all critical in the day-to-day operational success, so helping to ensure everyone is on the same page and has all the tools needed to be successful is a key tasker each day.”
Tell me about your life outside of Go-To and your hobbies.
“I can’t sit still so if I’m not working. I’m always doing something and try to stay busy. I love to golf so I do that as much as I can, especially during the summer months,” said Sean. “My eldest son, Jackson, is at an age where I can golf with him, so we’ll go out and do 9 holes. I also spend as much time as I can with the family. We like to go on family bike rides around town, travel around the state.” He pauses for a moment, “I also have some properties that I manage. Back in 2008 when the economy crashed and I was deployed, I bought a property and was able to pay to keep it up until I got back and could work on it. I flip, rent, and sell.”
While we’re talking about your life outside of Go-To, tell me about your family.
“My wife Kayla and I have three boys. Jackson is 6, Conor is 3, and our youngest, Owen, just turned 1. Kayla is the rock of our home and the glue that keeps it all together. With three boys under 6, it can sometimes feel like a circus, but it’s the greatest show on earth and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Photos of Sean and his family and Sean with his wife, Kayla.
Do you have any pets?
“We have two dogs,” he said. “Roo is our Jack Russell and we also have a Maltese, Buster. Both are about 10 years old.”
You have a busy household! Tell me about someone who has influenced your life?
“Chief master sergeant, Jim Downey,” he said without pause. “I met him in the Middle East in 2014. He is a Michigan native and was my chief at the time. He’s a great leader in all aspects. I’ve had a lot of managers and leaders, but he’s different in his approach to leading and being part of a team. He inspired everyone he worked with to be better and be our best.”
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
“Nothing is more important than the team. Through my career, I have borne witness to great successes and tremendous failures. The strength and overall accomplishment of any organization has always been rooted in the TEAM. To quote former University of Michigan coach, Bo Schembechler, ‘The team, the team, the team.’”
Do you have a personal motto that you like to live by?
“’Get some!’ This was our team motto while stationed in Alaska and it encompassed everything we did. We used it as a greeting, a motivation, and a war cry when the days were long, dark, and cold. It applied to the newest members of the team in their first days of training and was roared to the senior leaders as a call of support. At its root, it defines the principle of working hard and overcoming the challenge ahead, in everything you ever do, do it 1000% and do it better than the other guy. Get some!”
That’s a great way to end our interview today. Thank you for taking time to share your story with everyone!”