Employee Focus: Chris Walker
Chris Walker, Project Manager for Merit Logistics Travel Teams, stopped by our corporate headquarters the other day. He shared an inspiring life story, his own, which has involved a journey from the depths of adversity to the day when fate met perseverance, and he was hired by Merit Logistics.
Chris started with Merit Logistics in 2014. He described being at a very difficult crossroads in his life – without a job and living at home with his parents in Dayton, Ohio again. He described the day he said that’s enough; he would go to Columbus and stay there until he had secured a job. Chris did go to Columbus, but everything from that point happened so quickly. He attended a job fair for Merit Logistics and was hired on the spot. He said, “It felt like it was just meant to be.”
He started with Merit as an order selector in Delaware. He explained, “When I started, I knew nothing about logistics or the work I would be doing. Merit taught me everything I needed to know. I couldn’t come right in. I had to take the stairs. I knew I could perform at this job and make a difference if I set my mind to it.” He continued, “To move from jobs that had paid only $9 hours to making up to $20 an hour with incentive pay was completely life changing. After getting the job with Merit, I still worried about keeping it, because I could now provide for my children and family, and this was so important to me. I never wanted to go back to the way things were before. So, I focused and worked hard to keep the job.” After learning order selection, Chris began working in other service areas, including unloading and sanitation. He described how he went wherever he was needed, and sometimes this meant client locations in entirely different cities.
Chris demonstrated a natural talent for training new associates – teaching them what he had once needed to learn himself. He became a site lead for training. He explained, “I often share my experience of being hired by Merit with new associates. It may help them to see the importance of what they are doing and the skills they are learning. They can have a solid, secure job with Merit that will allow them to provide for their families – just as I realized, and at the same time they can make progress in their work. There are incentives and positive possibilities at Merit for associates who perform well.”
He explained that he actively searched for opportunities to excel in his work and exercise more leadership. “I am a goal-directed person. I set goals for myself. The power of your thoughts is important. Your thoughts direct you to that place you want to be,” he described. Further, he explained that it was only because of Merit Logistics’ company culture and core values around giving employees opportunities to prosper that his personal goals and career path were even possible. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the managers and executives who have given him these opportunities along the way and his desire to do even more for Merit Logistics.
Two years ago Chris was asked to represent Merit on one of their Travel Teams. These teams are comprised of highly skilled professionals that are proficient in every area of warehouse services and are called in as special forces to assist with new site startups or urgent warehouse staffing requirements. Merit Travel Teams are able to arrive on site within 48 hours and must hit the ground running to ensure business continuity and operational success for our clients. When Covid-19 hit in Q1 2020 Merit saw a surge in demand for emergency/urgent warehouse staffing, and Chris found himself continually “on the road” or “in the air.” Being a member of a Merit Travel Team has sometimes required him to spend extended time away – even months – from his family and home base in Cincinnati. The job is challenging, requires top-notch skills, and carries with it a high level of responsibility. Chris’s selection for the role was the result of his many years of drive, dedication, and reliable service with Merit.
Chris explained, “With Merit, I saw the path forward and the opportunity to learn and grow – to improve my overall quality of life. In this way, it has been very different than any of the previous jobs I’ve had. The potential to grow and advance did not exist in these other jobs.” Through hard work, a humble willingness to always learn, a desire to help others and utilize his gifts for training, his persistence in seeking growth and leadership opportunities, and his capacity to shoulder increasing and challenging responsibilities are what led in in time to his most recent promotion. In his new role as Project Manager, Chris oversees all Merit Travel Team activities.
In describing his current work, he says, “I always try to do the right things by the company, client, and project. I want to represent the values that Merit Logistics stands for. I see our Travel Teams are an extension of our corporate values when we’re at a client site.”
In wrapping up the interview, when Chris was asked what being hired by Merit has meant to him, tears welled up and he said, “It changed my life. I was in a difficult place, and it changed everything. I’m truly blessed. I am grateful for the opportunities that Merit has given me.”
When this masked frontline leader appeared in our office, I was not entirely clear on why I had been asked to meet with him. But now I know, and, if you haven’t already, I hope you will also have a chance to meet Chris someday … or at least someone much like him, who will very humbly share a triumphant and inspiring story of life with you – one that moves them to tears when they recall the hurdles overcome – a story that, with a moment’s reflection, also moves you to tears and changes your life. There is a light that perseveres and triumphs for good. Chris did not hesitate to say “yes” to sharing his story. He, in fact, had a desire to publish his story. Possibly he knows how tough the journey can be and wishes to encourage others who may benefit from reading/hearing about his own struggles and triumphs.