As I write about my Ford experiences, I have been repeatedly reminded how much other people were a part of any success I experienced.
Without my father and mother-in-law’s relationship with Joe and Sue Clark (not to mention the fact that they, not me, contacted Joe on my behalf), I would have never had the opportunity to be hired at the Nashville Glass Plant.
Joe was a maintenance general foreman, much like a master sergeant in the army, whose reputation, influence and 30 plus years experience far exceeded his organizational status. Only later did I understand the personal risk he assumed by recommending me for hire. Not only did Joe intercede on my behalf, he and Sue asked us to live with them until we could get established and find a place of our own. The first 3-4 weeks after we moved to Nashville, Ann and I lived in their very comfortable mother-in-law suite. On several occasions during my time at the Nashville Glass Plant I benefited from my relationship with Joe. Most of the time it was because of his initiative not mine.
Ann and I had just purchased and moved into our first home a few days before I accepted the job offer. We were certainly doing better financially but we still had little personal discipline and even less cash. The new job held promise of better times but the the move to Louisville and associated expenses was truly frightening. There was no Joe and Sue Clark waiting to help out. We had to sell our new home and the possibility of taking a loss was real.
Nashville Glass Plant was notified that I had been offered a ob in Louisville as a production foreman. Because I was an hourly employee, there were no relocation benefits available. We would have to bear whatever expenses the move cost us. I visited the personnel office to begin the process of terminating my position as an hourly employee and then being hired as a salaried employee at the Louisville Assembly Plant. I was grateful to learn that my time as an hourly employee would count toward my Ford service. I remember how gracious and helpful the people in the personnel office were.
At some point in the process, a supervisor took me aside and told me they were going to process my paper work and hire me as a salaried employee at the Nashville Glass Plant and then they would transfer me to the Louisville Assembly Plant. What it amounted to was a paper only transaction but what it would do is entitle me to relocation benefits as a salaried employee. Our moving expenses would be paid by Ford Motor Company and the sale of house would also be covered. I was stunned. It was truly a gift. Someone was willing to something that was not required of them to help out. I have always thought that Joe Clark may have had a hand in that but I never had any way to confirm it.
We were on our way to Kentucky
As I wrote this post I was reminded that my Ford employment was not the first time I had benefitted from others along the way. After I graduated from high school my Dad contacted his cousin who was business agent for the local Operating Engineers Union and he arranged for me to get a job as a Pump Operator at a construction site at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Despite my unqualified status, I was hired and paid a very good wage. I worked that job until I left for college.
After Ann and I were married and moved to Florence, Alabama my dad called a friend who offered me a job. I worked as a laborer unloading coal rail cars for $1.25 per hour for 4-5 hours a day. The money didn’t cover expenses and was a incentive that led to Ford in Nashville.
So much for being a self-made man.