Diverse Veteran Job Possibilities at Mohawk Industries
The manufacturing field offers a surprising and appealing variety of job choices for a post-military career. Three veterans exemplify the diversity of opportunities in a global company like Mohawk Industries, the largest floor covering manufacturer in the world and number 315 on the Fortune 500.
George Bandy Jr. served in the Army Reserves as a flight operations specialist and was activated to Desert Storm in 1990. He now works as Mohawk's chief sustainability officer.
Eric Lewis enlisted in the Marines as an electrician after college, then went through the Enlisted Commissioning Program and became a logistics officer. After nine years active duty, he now works as an operations manager at one of Mohawk's warehouses.
With great size comes great opportunities
The reason large companies like Mohawk can support such diverse work experiences and careers is because they have positions in a wide variety of fields. Bandy explains: "We have management opportunities, corporate offices, our own fleet of trucks, and allow people to move around in the organization — even globally. If someone wants to explore opportunities, they can do that here."
Lewis said the opportunities for advancement attracted him to Mohawk. "It's a large company that has potential for moving up in job prospects," he said, "and it's a company that constantly invests in people." He began in an entry-level position but was promoted to crew lead within a year. Then he pursued the company's management program and was offered a supervisor position the following year. "I have changed roles and buildings in Mohawk," he added, "and the military life let me adapt to where I was needed."
There are opportunities for lateral moves, too, into different departments within the company. Sanchez explains that the company wants candidates with a diverse set of skills: "In manufacturing, you can move into so many jobs and departments. Coming in at an entry-level job gives you opportunities in fields you might not think you fit into. We have human resources, logistics, chemists, accounting, etc. We have an apprenticeship program that lets you go to school part-time to get an associate's degree and get hands-on job training from mechanics and electricians. We have a CDL program for truck drivers."
Working in a large organization provides veterans with unlimited possibilities for future job positions.
Veterans' skills stay vital after service
Regardless of their military experience or MOS, veterans have a set of skills that makes them desirable to large organizations like Mohawk. Bandy says the military taught him "to respect people and govern yourself accordingly. The military prepares you for the worst situations, so you are equipped for problem-solving. Those skills can be applied anywhere, to a manufacturing facility or a sales office."
Sanchez sees overlapping skills in her military career and her work at Mohawk. "I'm an account management specialist for onboarding new hires," she said. "It mirrors what I do at Dental, in-processing soldiers for mobilization. One thing being a veteran really brings to the table is that they are disciplined and loyal, so if something needs to be done, they will complete it. Also, working with different people prepares you to deal with any large company and become a family with people of different backgrounds."
For Lewis, although his work at Mohawk is different from his military service, he uses similar skills to approach it. "I view my warehouse crew the same way that I did when I was leading Marines in Afghanistan," he said. "This is my platoon, my group. We have camaraderie with each other and all work towards a common goal. We are focused on being the best."
Because these skills are ingrained into most veterans, companies like Mohawk actively recruit veterans. "Veteran associates are welcome at every level of the organization," said Bandy. "The technical skills the military team provides are something we want to connect our people with. Veterans come with a skill set that can be immediately plugged in. We would love to see as many veterans as possible find their way here."
Sanchez affirms that the Mohawk organization is veteran-friendly and has worked with her to accommodate the requirements of her military service. "They do a great job working with me to balance my work and my military life," she said. "My boss has been really supportive when I have to leave for annual training, and even now that I have to leave for a year. I will get time off before I leave, and they will cover down for me so my job will still be here when I get back." This employer support is essential for those who serve in the Reserves and National Guard.
Mohawk is also involved in community outreach for veteran organizations. The company lends some of its fleet of delivery trucks to Wreaths Across America, so wreaths can be laid on graves in veteran cemeteries. They also donate flooring to Building for America's Bravest, an organization that provides specially-designed high-tech homes to severely wounded veterans.
Tips for veterans seeking jobs
These three veterans all found their way to Mohawk, and each has remained with the company for several years. When asked about advice for fellow veterans leaving military service, Bandy said, "Use the GI Bill to invest in yourself and your career."
Lewis recommends talking to the veterans at the Department of Labor. "They know most of the local opportunities, veteran-friendly transition programs, and recruiters," he said. One of these representatives connected Lewis with Mohawk.
"Go to the local military installation and find out what employment resources you can utilize," Sanchez added. "Don't hide your military experience in interviews, because it brings a lot to the table."