Floor Manager – Volunteer Program, Go Green Warehouse
“Transitioning from an M1 Tank to a Forklift”
Andy Garza was unemployed for six months after losing his job in the golf business. Using Craigslist to search for warehouse work, he came upon the Go Green Warehouse. He knew right away it was the job for him.
“I feel like a fish in water here. I know what’s expected,” says Andy, who studied recreational facilities management in college. In addition to running his own golf shop, he spent 13 years managing warehouses, where he became a jack-of-all-trades.
From plumbing and construction, to shipping and receiving, to retail operations and customer service, Andy understands what’s required to run a smooth retail store. His cheerful disposition also helped him win the job. “I guess I sounded happy over the phone,” he laughs.
Among Andy’s assets is his status as a military veteran. Serving in the U.S. Army on active duty starting at age 22, his job was to drive an M1 tank – “a big vehicle with a big gun.” He misses the camaraderie of being on the tank with other soldiers, with whom he would often spend 45 days without a break.
But in many ways, Andy’s warehouse job is not too different from the Army: management and leadership skills, positive attitude, and the ability to handle adversity in tough situations are all attributes he gained in the military, and is now applying to his civilian work.
“It’s not as strict, but there are still rules to follow. And learning how to interact with people is a skill that is very transferable.”
Andy left the Army when he felt stagnated in his E4 level due to a promotion freeze. Continuing with a college education wasn’t an option he considered. “I wasn’t studious. I don’t like sitting at a desk. I much more enjoy being out doing things.”
He appreciates the difficulty military veterans have transitioning to life in the civilian world. “Some people stay in the military because they have no other skills and don’t know what they’ll do. There’s a mission here at Veterans Green Jobs to train vets and help them get skills. It makes me feel very patriotic.”
Andy was a recycler before coming to work at the Go Green Warehouse. He tells about the day that changed him the most. “I took a water heater to the landfill, and saw a massive quantity of metal that could be salvaged or reused. I stood there in shock and awe. I decided there’s got to be a better way, so I turned around and took my water heater to the scrap metal place instead. I made sure it wasn’t going to the landfill.”
But working at the Go Green Warehouse, Andy has an even greater sense of duty to the environment. “I know what’s supposed to go in the trash and what’s not. I’m much more aware now.”