Today we celebrated Shawn Smith’s 10 years of service Anniversary with Fire Line Equipment. We had a great lunch and topped it all off with one of his favorites- Peanut Butter iced long johns made into a cake. We thank Shawn for his 10 years of hard work and dedication.
Shawn Smith- Looking back on the past 10 years
On September 8th, Shawn Smith will officially hit 10 years as an employee with Fire Line Equipment. Shawn was the first employee hired by Tim and Ron to join their team. Ron had approached Shawn to work for FLE as a road technician. Shawn’s experience for the job came from 18 years of employment with Ladder Towers Incorporated, which at the time had become American La France Aerials -located in Brownstown, PA. Tim and Ron had both known and worked with Shawn at LTI and ALF. At this time, Tim and Ron were just putting together the shop in East Earl. Shawn now has 28 years of experience in the fire apparatus industry. I asked Shawn a few question about his employment with the company and here is what he had to say.
What did you do before working at FLE? – I was very young when I started at LTl. I tell everyone I grew up on firetrucks because I was 20 years old when I started. Tim was my boss and was the one who originally hired me in 1991 on the assembly line. Everything I learned there has prepared me for the work I do here. I did assembly, electrical assembly, ladder assembly, service work and road work. Then Ron became my boss when he brought me on for technical support group. I was in this position until I left their in 2009. I never thought I was going to make this my career. I had originally thought I wanted to be a paid fireman. I had taken my tests but was never high enough on the list as I was missing some EMS certification. But after being at LTl for 10-12 years, I thought … well… I have so much time invested and have learned so much that I think I will make this my career. As I tell a lot of people, I could not do what I do here, without the 18 years of experience I got from LTI.
Since FLE was a newer company, what factors helped you decide to take on a position here?
When Ron was still at ALF, he had approached me to go on the road to help make ALF profitable again in some way. I was going to leave the technical support position I had been in and go on the road again. However, Ron left to go work at KME. So that never transpired and I stayed in tech support until I left in 2009. Ron approached me to do the same thing here that he wanted me to do at ALF. Road service/technical support. So one evening at a dinner meeting, Ron, my wife and I sat down to discuss the job with FLE. After speaking to my wife, I decided to take the position. I never thought FLE would fail or not take off or not succeed. My only question was -how long would it take to take off and how long or far could it go. How long would it be till we have a building etc. Before I knew it, when I started in September, they had already found a building to lease and were constructing offices so they could sit and make phone calls. They added 2 bays to do service work in the shop as well as road work and technical support. They purchased a van for me and my position took off from there. Many customers in the industry already knew Tim, Ron and myself. This initiated the trust needed for customers to let FLE do their service work.
What are some of the changes or differences you have noticed being an employee for 10 years?
When FLE first started, everyone was hands on all things. We were small and everyone pitched in to get the job done. As the company continued to grow, things became more segmented. Which is not a bad thing. It was difficult however, to know you were not a part of a certain area anymore that you may have been involved in from the beginning. It was good to grow and blossom the way it did. But it was hard to remove yourself. Knowing that you were once a part of it, but now it was someone else’s job to take care of. Whereas now we have “divisions” and everyone has a certain job to do. I know this is needed for all we do and it’s a great thing.
How has your job evolved from day one?
Recently, I have been on the road more than usual. Even though I was hired as a road technician, I now work in the shop on specific issues that may need trouble shooting. Or help a tech working on a truck that may run into something that needs trouble shooting. I don’t necessarily wrench on a truck every day. My job primarily consists of technical support with customers. I talk through an issue on the phone to solve a problem .It either works, and they fix it themselves. Or it leads to a part they need, and I turn them over to the parts department. It could mean speaking to Shannon to schedule the customer’s truck to come in for service. Or we send a road tech or myself out for the service work. My job is to get the customer’s issue solved to get the truck fixed. Whether it’s on the road, on the phone or while the truck is in the shop. Remaining hands on helps me keep up with the changes that naturally occur in the industry over time.
What do you most like about working at FLE?
It’s not the same thing every day. It can be a frustrating and challenging job, but getting to the resolution is so satisfying at the same time. In the end, it’s so worth it.
How do you think moving into the new building has helped the company?
You are just able to do so much more. Even at face value, when a customer comes and looks at the shop, they see a perception of a clean shop and a business that cares. When you see all the truck sitting outside, it tells you that a lot of customers trust us to work on their apparatus. It’s also nice that it came as quick as it did. Because it would be tough to continue to do what we do, and what we want to do in the smaller building.
How do you see FLE growing in the next few years?
I see us adding more techs, getting busier and becoming even better at all we do. I see us getting more business on the refurb end of things. The more customers that see the refurbs we do, the more new customers will call us. The process will expand and the smoother it will go. On the ambulance side, I also see us getting more work as the word gets out. As the ambulances come in, we will get better and better as we learn. We are already known for our customer service, technical supports, service work and parts department. This will help to grow the ambulance side.
Thank you Shawn!
If you see Shawn, congratulate him on his 10 years of service!