The year was 1988. A postage stamp cost 24 cents and Ronald Reagan was finishing his second term as President. You could buy a new car for around $10,000 and fill the tank for 91 cents a gallon.
TERRA was not yet five years old in June of 1988 when young Bennie Caylor responded to an employment ad in The Everett Herald looking for his first job out of high school. Bennie had taken classes in electronics at Mariner High School and hoped he could put those skills to use working as an electronic assembler.
Bennie’s electronics training was sufficient to help him pass TERRA’s electronics tests and his enthusiasm for getting to work was an added plus in getting that first job offer. He found himself that first day at a quiet, little company in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, called Stephens Engineering Associates (SEA) performing a very basic level of assembly “stuffing” circuit boards. He would insert the various components into the silicon boards and send them off to be soldered. Eventually Bennie’s circuit boards ended up in high-end ship-to-shore marine radios.
While stuffing circuit boards for $4.10 per hour (remember this is 1988!) was admittedly not Bennie’s dream job it was a start down a very interesting and rewarding career path. His assignment at SEA continued for several months when Bennie learned he’d been accepted into the Marine Corps. He was delighted for this opportunity to pursue his dream of a military career. Bennie left SEA to enter the Marines but his career was ended by a leg injury after one year of service.
Bennie was interested in returning to work at SEA and contacted TERRA in Everett to see if that might be possible. Much to our and his delight he was again assigned to SEA to stuff circuit boards. Bennie’s talents and desire to learn did not go unnoticed by one particular supervisor. She had been recently assigned to manage a rather disorganized stockroom and hoped Bennie could help. She requested Bennie be reassigned to her area and after a few months there, Bennie was hired as a regular employee of SEA.
Bennie dug in and learned all he could about inventory control and how to build a reliable real-time inventory system. The previous system was costing the company too much money and creating costly delays in production.
Bennie located a programming book and took it home over the weekend to teach himself the Pick system used in that department. Totally self-taught, he wrote programs to implement improvements and over the next several months, brought the cycle count current, which had not occurred in years.
Later Bennie was promoted to Production Planner responsible for coordinating the flow of manufacturing new product, determining exactly how they would be built on the assembly line. Then in 2001, following a deep downturn in business, the company reduced staff from 140 to only three. One of the remaining three Bennie Caylor was responsible for all of production. The company is still in business today, but understandably Bennie decided to seek other opportunities in a place where he could apply his talents and valuable skills learned during those tough years.
In June of 2012, Bennie again thought of TERRA and placed a call to the president Betty Neighbors who had assigned him to his first job back in 1988! “I don’t know if you remember me,” his call began. “Of course I do!” Betty replied.
Bennie then learned that TERRA happened to be recruiting for an IT systems administrator for an Everett manufacturing client. The client had a very unique position that was just not a good fit for the typical IT consultant. They really needed someone who could be versatile and flexible in maintaining their network, computers and phone systems. And particularly someone who understood manufacturing to help organize and streamline the process. The right fit for that job was Bennie Caylor!
The skills Bennie gained and the many challenges he overcame at his previous job prepared him so well for this next step in his career. Bennie tells us how glad he is that he contacted TERRA when deciding to make his next career move. “I’d send out so many resumes and applications but got zero results. The best thing I did was make that call to TERRA.”
Now 24 years later, all of us at TERRA and the client company where we placed him are certainly delighted that Bennie made that call too.