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6 Unique Traits That Military Veterans Bring to Operation Roles
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6 Unique Traits That Military Veterans Bring to Operation Roles

November 9, 2017

In the produce industry, there are a number of moving parts and strict processes that need to be followed to ensure food travels as safe as possible from field to folk. One key ingredient to this supply chain delivery recipe is a service center. In the mind of Robinson Fresh, who better to run a service center than those who have served?

Seven of our warehouse facilities (service centers)—from Miami to Los Angeles—are managed by military veterans. Each of these leaders started their careers at one of our corporate offices, at various levels of responsibility. Once they got their feet in the Robinson Fresh door, their demonstrated abilities, experiences, character, and talents propelled them to where they are today. As we celebrate Veterans Day, we’re grateful for the contributions that our military men and women make in businesses everywhere.

We are honored to have veterans dedicated to our business. Each of these individuals was hired at a lower level, rose to the challenge, exceeded expectations, and took on additional responsibility while inspiring the organization and the people within it.

6 unique traits that veterans bring to operation roles

Robinson Fresh service center leaders have diverse backgrounds, but they have several characteristics in common. We think these six characteristics are emblematic of the competencies that many veterans bring to operation roles:

1. Ease of integration into your enterprise.

In a “simple” three-year enlistment, they will have made a trip to basic training or boot camp for a six- to eight-week indoctrination before moving on to an individual training course, where they learn how to be a mechanic, equipment operator, or infantryman. Then, they will deploy to a “permanent” duty station, where they executed their newfound skills. That’s at a minimum. In each location, the veteran had to meet new folks, meld with the new organization, and begin to execute. Today’s veterans are diploma-holding, intelligence-tested men and women who know how to integrate into a new organization.

2. Team building and teamwork are concepts that each veteran learns from the very beginning.

Whether it’s getting cargo offloaded, inventoried, and shipped to keep revenue flowing, or getting an aircraft refueled for a second attack mission, veterans understand the value of teamwork and instill that in the people around them. From their first day at basic training, they learn that teamwork is built on a responsibility to their fellow team members, and that teamwork combines individual and group efforts. Many veterans will tell you one of the quickest ways to lose the trust of the man or woman next to you is to put one’s own self-interest above that of the team; many say their biggest fear in combat was that they would let down the person next to them.

3. Outstanding work ethic and discipline.

We all want mature professionals in our workforce. All veterans were placed into stressful work situations and trained to make those situations more manageable. Hallmarks like punctuality, appearance, and respect are just part of what veterans are taught as they are coached and mentored by senior members of the military. Disciplined people establish good daily habits that propel them and the organization ahead, whether in the military or on a shipping floor. This ethos and discipline serves them well in maintaining clean, efficient, and well-managed facilities.

4. A mission accomplishment mindset.

Triumphing over adversity begins at day one of a veteran’s military career. All veterans are trained and believe that it’s the mission first and themselves second. When the organization needs extra effort to reach budgeted revenue or to complete a project that may not seem feasible to some, a veteran may be the person who will put in that extra effort to make it work.

5. Veterans can be leaders.

Veterans in active-duty situations are given extreme responsibility at a young age. It’s not uncommon for a 19-year-old to be responsible for performing maintenance on jet aircraft, or for a 27-year-old to command a 125-person company in the combat desert of Iraq. A corporate audit or a new type of inventory software is unlikely to rattle them. The military builds leaders at every level, starting with having each recruit strive to become the guidon bearer for his platoon in boot camp, and continuing on to individuals working hard to move higher in the ranks. Leadership training, coaching, and mentoring begins early and stays with veterans for life.

6. Procedures and policies mean something.

Every private enterprise with the goal of being profitable sets procedures and processes for subordinates, peers, and superiors to follow. This is the case throughout organizations, from warehouse operations to sales to the HR department. Veterans understand and respect those rules. They have been trained to follow them, have helped write them, and have led others in following them. Veterans realize policies, procedures, and standards enable an enterprise to remain viable.

This is only an abbreviated list of what we have found military veterans have to offer. Combine these traits with the sense of duty and honor most bring to organizations, and you will be amazed at the results. Robinson Fresh veterans pushed themselves, served their organization, led others, and now, both they and Robinson Fresh are mutual beneficiaries.

If you’d like to learn more about our service centers, connect with one of our supply chain experts.

Craig Mack

Craig Mack - Director of Global Sourcing, Service Centers, Robinson Fresh

Craig Mack joined C.H. Robinson’s Eden Prairie corporate office in 2011. Bringing 23 years of experience in various industries, he focuses on improving efficiencies, productivity, and performance through operational best practices while expanding geographic capacity and
service offerings to deliver a consistent customer experience across its network of Service Centers. He is a current member of the United Fresh Wholesaler-Distributor Board.

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