In 1978, Rudy Hernandez was just a young adult in an apprenticeship at Omnitrans, trying to figure out a viable career path after high school. Three years later, that student program ceased, and Rudy had to seek an outside opportunity, but his sights remained set on Omnitrans. This month, Rudy celebrates a remarkable milestone – his 35th year working with the agency’s Maintenance Department.
“Omnitrans was always very supportive and encouraged me to continue my education, so I went on to junior college while working here in the student program,” says Rudy. “In 1981, the program ended after three years, so I went to work somewhere else. I worked there about three years, but there were a lot of airborne hazardous materials and chemicals at the worksite, and they did not take safety very seriously. I left after applying for a job opening back at Omnitrans and getting re-hired.”
In the late 1970’s, Omnitrans was an up and coming transit agency in the San Bernardino Valley. There was no bus wash in the bus yard back then – just water, a mop, and a broom. Depending on the direction the wind was blowing at that time of day, maintenance staff had to face the bus in the opposite direction to keep from being splashed as they hosed the buses at the end of their run!
“When I came back to Omnitrans in 1984 as a utility service worker, we now had a bus wash, a bigger crew and supervisors who were good leaders and trainers,” says Rudy. “Before that, there was less organizational structure and less guidance when it came to our tasks.”
Over the years, Rudy’s exceptional performance earned him job promotions to mechanic helper, and in 1990, he became an equipment mechanic, the position he has held since. He has always enjoyed doing work that is hands-on and gets satisfaction from finding solutions to new problems he encounters while working on buses. This is how Rudy defines his success and the reason why he has had a rewarding career with Omnitrans.
Although Rudy preferred a career working in the shop rather than pursuing a management role in the office, as a senior employee he has still had the opportunity to help guide and pass down first-hand knowledge and experience to new employees as they come into the shop and begin their own career journeys.
“Sometimes, younger employees come to work here, and they are so quiet that they may not even greet you,” says Rudy. “When I began working here, I attended a training session and the instructor told us to always greet people walking down the hall and to be welcoming. When you are cordial with your co-workers, that helps build relations and become family faster.”
“I developed that habit and have learned that it helps you become a team much quicker, but it takes gray hair to learn that,” laughs Rudy. “When I was younger, I was probably the same way, but eventually you realize that other people are just as important as you are. It’s one big machine and it takes everyone to keep it running.”
Rudy’s managers and peers describe him as a committed, diligent employee – so much so, that after 35 years at Omnitrans, he has a near impeccable attendance record, and never took a sick family day off despite having gone through several losses including his father and both grandmothers.
“Rudy is a reliable, trustworthy, and dependable team member,” says Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant. “He takes his work very seriously and has been a pleasure to work with over the years.”
“I have always been taught to go to work on time, stay focused, and do a good job every day,” says Rudy of his secret to career longevity. “When I had a paper route as one of my first jobs, we had to deliver each paper to each house within a certain timeframe. That’s where I learned the importance of timeliness. Show up on time and do a good job. It’s been that way ever since, and I’ll go out with that mentality.”