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Pathways to Growth: Meet Joe Berentsen, our Facilities Maintenance Technician

In our “Pathways" series, we talk with Relay employees about their professional development journey, how our culture has supported them, and how Relay can help our team members on their pathways to growth, too.

Pictured above are Joe Berentsen, left, with our Facilities & Safety Manager Andy Roper.

Joe began working at Relay “by accident" in 2018. He had been working for 20 years doing security work and had no idea about Relay. He applied through Indeed, came in for the interview, and became a Janitorial Trainee

Tell us about the various paths you’ve taken at Relay.

After completing the training program at PSU, “I went to PDX and worked the graveyard shift for five months. Then I applied for a Job Coach role in Janitorial and got promoted. I did this for a year at PDX,” says Joe.

When COVID hit, the airport was shut down by 9O% (leveling off at 70%) and many Relay employees were laid off, furloughed or re-assigned. At that point, Joe applied for an open role as a Trainer. “I got the job and continued my work with janitors, checking on their wellness, filling in, and offering comfort. I’m still here for them,” remarked Joe, who worked as a Trainer for a little over a year.

“Then Andy happened!” exclaimed Joe. Andy Roper, Safety & Facilities Manager (pictured above with Joe), is his current boss. “Andy is always running around the building (like a bat out of hell) and he was looking to hire someone for maintenance.”

Laughing, Andy had a few things to say about Joe, too. “You gotta know, four weeks earlier, I saw Joe going out of his way to do things outside of his job description! Joe, a Janitorial Trainer, noticed the leaves outside our main campus were slippery and asked about them. Before Andy had a chance to do anything about it, Joe had raked up the leaves so no one would slip and fall.

“Joe has an attitude that goes above and beyond,” continued Andy.

Andy told Joe about the open position in his department and encouraged him to apply. “He (Andy) took a chance on me,” said Joe. “This means a lot to me.” Joe was promoted again, this time to Facilities Maintenance Technician. Previously being in security, this was not an obvious career trajectory for Joe. “It was kind of terrifying,” said Joe, “but Andy was here, incredibly supportive, understanding, and willing to help – all leadership.”

Andy interrupted, “Joe was more than capable of doing maintenance work, but safety is engrained in all of that. With the right attitude, you can do anything! I was after Joe’s attitude, heart and drive.”

Do you have a favorite part of your job? (Past and present!) “I’ve loved my entire time at Relay,” said Joe. “Relay really gives a damn about their employees. You can move around and try things. It’s not just me – it’s everybody who has this opportunity. As a trainer, I encouraged people to look at the job board – there is no better place. And Relay likes to hire from within. If I can do it, they can, too. There is so much possibility at Relay.”

Joe says he “likes all of it” – even the physical part of his job. “I go home feeling good because I see progress and the ‘thank-yous’ you get from individuals. . . And the fact that I can take the weight off Andy. That feels good. I see how it makes a difference for everyone else.”

Joe also appreciates the support he gets around job growth and training, when needed. He has already received certifications for forklift and scissor lifts and is currently working on his boom lift and fall protection certification.

What advice do you have for people who want to grow in their position at Relay? “My advice to anyone wanting to grow at Relay is to be honest with yourself as to what makes you happy. Talk to your supervisor about what you want – your supervisor wants what’s best for you,” said Joe. “Even though it’s scary, don’t be afraid to put yourself out here and try something new. The support has always been there!”

How would you describe the Culture of Love at Relay? “Companies say the words, ‘we care about you’,” stressed Joe, “but HERE, they actually mean it.” Joe would like to stay as long as he can. “A complete 180 from anything I have ever seen.”

“The culture of love allows me to take stock and care about Joe (and my other employees),” chimed in Andy.

“You know I had no personal tools when I started here,” said Joe. “Andy was so generous to give me his tools – he has spotted me every step of the way. "Andy rolls up his sleeves and gets dirty!” Joe added, “It doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy it. I don’t dread going to work every day."

On this Andy and Joe are also in agreement!

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