From picker to team leader

Jason Wright was hired by 16 years ago for the warehouse role of plucking items from the inventory box and shipping them to customers. The job is called a picker.

Nowadays, as the leader of the IT team for infrastructure and security, Wright is no longer pickin’. But he is still grinnin’, having never considered leaving for another company while relishing his work and life at ADC.

What propelled him up several rungs on the ladder was financial aid for college, one of a plethora of perks available to employees.

Wright, who had attended technical school for a year, realized he needed a degree for career advancement. The company footed the bulk of the bill for four years of study online and continues to assist with Wright obtaining certifications that enhance job performance.

A helping hand for tuition does not begin to cover the benefits that Wright cites as an incentive to drop anchor at ADC.

On the working side, there is flex scheduling, telecommuting, vacation rollover and offsite career training. In the personal arena: access to a chaplain and a personal trainer, various self-help classes at lunchtime and DirectWellness, a health program that rewards participants with gift cards.

The experience is spliced with fun, as evidenced in weekly meetings, where new hires offer a glimpse into their personalities by entertaining the crowd.

The frivolity ramps up in the days before Halloween, when employees are encouraged to wear costumes. At a business fond of rewarding folks accustomed to operating as a team, participants form groups based on themes and the best get-ups earn prizes.

“People and teamwork have been the cornerstones to my success,” he said.

Q. Was it a challenge adjusting to how things are done at Automation Direct from previous employers?

A. Nothing really, other than ADC really cares for you as a person versus just being a number at the other organizations.

Q. When you joined the company, did you have to get up at the meeting and “perform” like newcomers do today?

A. No, thankfully. That process was created as a joke after I started, but it has turned into a neat part of our culture. That gives you a small glimpse into who the new “teamer” is, plus you may find they have a talent or hobby that you have an interest in and can later strike up a conversation and potentially join them in the hobby. We have some really talented singers and they have built a small chorus that sings at most of our company functions.

Q. The company is known for providing employees with the tools necessary to do the job. Can you give an example involving yourself?

A. I have four monitors so that I can work and watch the dashboards that are monitoring the environment, and I know instantly when things are changing. Other examples are laptops, cell phones, home setups, latest software versions and the latest technologies such as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) to keep the mobile workforce going.

Q. Do you participate in DirectWellness, the health program?

A. Yes, this year I got off to a slow start. I just crossed over 150 points and received my $20 reward. You need to earn 1,500 points over the year to receive the maximum reward. I really appreciate how the company goes out of the way to extend information, [offer] programs and even incentives to get and keep us healthy.

Q. What are some of the fitness clubs or other “extracurricular” groups in which you participate?

A. None currently. I have participated in lunch-time activities such as tennis, mountain biking, personal fitness training, workouts in the onsite gym and taekwondo. There is something for everyone, and the cool thing is that if you don’t find something that you are interested in, you can always start a new club and get it into the program.

Q. Have you attended any of the Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions?

A. Yes. I have attended sessions such as stress management, hypertension, prostate cancer and CrossFit training methods. it is an hour in which you get lunch provided, a power point and then questions and answers with the professional. I have really enjoyed the content of the sessions and I will continue to attend.

Q. What have you dressed up as at Halloween? Have you gotten best costume?

A. Yes, I have participated quite a few times and have won a couple of times. My favorite costume group was the Marvel Avengers. I was able to come as the Hulk. I was over 9 feet tall. The neat thing about Halloween is that you get to work with people outside of your normal work group — laughing, having fun and getting to know new people. Plus you make memories that get talked about for years to come.

Q. Does anyone take advantage of the various activities and get distracted from their jobs?

A. In an environment that seems to offer everything, there is always that possibility to get distracted. However, in 16 years, I have not seen evidence of anyone having issues with balancing the job and activities.