XPO employs over 1,700 veterans in the US alone, and we’re honored to work alongside men and women who chose a path of service to their country. For this Veteran’s Day, we spoke to former members of the armed forces to learn why they chose that service and how it continues to influence their lives.
“The military is a melting pot,” says John Amorello, a former Marine who now leads one of our LTL facilities in Vermont. “People come from all walks of life. I’ve met Ivy League graduates who enlisted because they wanted to serve their country. I’ve met guys who had nowhere else to go.” Everyone, John says, has a different reason for joining.
It’s a sentiment shared, and evidenced, by the many vets who work for XPO every day.
Paul Kester runs one of our supply chain sites in San Antonio. For him, joining the Air Force was a chance to pay for college and travel the world at the same time. Dennis McCaffrey chose the Marine Corps, seeing it as a way to mature, to grow into the sort of person he wanted to be before finishing up college and progressing through a sales career – one that culminated with his current position as SVP, Strategic Sales Management.
Whatever brought them, every veteran we spoke to was grateful for the time they spent in the armed forces. The lessons they learned continue to impact their lives and defined how they lead and serve their XPO colleagues.
Dennis McCaffrey, right, with his family. Dennis was an infantryman in the Marines during Desert Storm.
What Makes A Leader
Long before he was put in charge of our SAMs in XPO’s south-central region – the top-tier salespeople who oversee big clients from Florida to Michigan – Dennis McCaffrey enlisted in the Marines. He spent four years in the infantry and was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm.
Through that experience, he developed skills in two vital areas: leadership and teamwork. “They teach you how to connect with others,” Dennis explains. “How to motivate people and motivate yourself; how to take a disciplined approach to problem-solving. I learned a lot about attention to detail, about being prepared if things go bad.”
While some of our veterans spent four or six years in the military, others dedicated their entire lives to serving their country. In October 2015, Dannie Cohen retired from a 20-year career in the Marines. Today he works in our Charlotte office as a collaboration engineer, working with our IT and telephony teams to maintain XPO’s communications infrastructure.
Dannie picked up his telephony skills while stationed abroad in places like Jordan and Nicaragua, but the life skills he developed were even more vital to success. “Being in the service helps you learn to manage your time, to be flexible,” he explains. “Things don’t always turn out the way you’d expect in business. In the military, that happens all the time! You find ways to help projects move along. Your experience helps you make decisions for the betterment of your team.”
Dannie Cohen, right, served in the armed forces for 20 years. His wife Natalie travelled with him while he was stationed in such locales as Nicaragua and Jordan.
Veteran’s Day is a time of remembrance and respect. It means something a little different to everyone, but there’s a consistent theme in the hearts of XPO’s veterans: comradery.
“About half a percent of the population of the United States are veterans,” notes Paul Kester, the Air Force vet from San Antonio. “It’s a very small network. As a country, as a society, we recognize that it takes a special mindset to serve; to sacrifice some of the freedoms and things most of us take for granted.”
As Vermont LTL manager John Amorello told us, service members come from all walks of life. Yet, he says, they all share a common bond: They’ve experienced things the rest of us haven’t. “Not everybody understands,” John says. It makes Veteran’s Day a great reminder to ask the questions you might not usually ask. “Start a conversation with them. Have a drink together. Hear their stories.” Their knowledge and wisdom can make us all a little better.
Header Photo: Paul Kester, operations manager for one of our supply chain facilities in San Antonio, before his first flight in a fighter jet.