Tag Archives: public transit career

Celebrating a 35-Year Journey at Omnitrans

Rudy H. was joined by colleagues and staff in the East Valley body shop to celebrate his 35th anniversary earlier this month.

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.”

Maintenance Director Connie Raya (right) and Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant (left) presented Rudy (center) with a special award of appreciation for his years of service.

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.”

Congratulations, Rudy! Omnitrans is thankful for all your years of dedicated service.

Employee of the Quarter Jannet Villaseñor

The daughter of a mechanic, naturally Parts Clerk Jannet Villaseñor grew up in the shop with all things automotive inculcated in her mind since she was 10 years old. So, when Jannet arrived at the Omnitrans West Valley facility parts warehouse only eight months ago, she was ready to take on the challenge of tidying up a place in dire need of reorganization.

“I revised and updated all these catalogs,” Jannet says, proudly pointing at the shelves displaying neatly stacked, color-coded binders with inventory of the agency’s mechanical parts. “If I am not organized, I am not able to work to my fullest potential. I had to make things better for us, to better help everyone in the mechanic shop.”

Jannet performed a thorough deep clean of the tool room, going well above and beyond her job duties to scrub and mop the floors herself. She spearheaded a team effort, employing the knowledge and experience of other clerks, to label, categorize, and rearrange the warehouse to positively impact the efficacy of the parts department.

“We had a gallon-sized bag of O-rings of all types, which is essentially four drawers’ worth of O-rings,” Jannet explains as she displays four methodically organized drawers filled with the gaskets (pictured above). She has taken brown paper bags, cut the top halves off, and placed them in the compartments of each drawer. Each compartment is well-stocked with O-rings sorted by size for quick identification.

“I found these paper bags in a cupboard, so I was able to put them to good use,” she shares. It’s this resourcefulness and willingness to take initiative that has garnered Jannet the Employee of the Quarter award, presented to her at the Omnitrans Board of Directors meeting this month.

Additionally, Jannet has separated and categorized extra parts from rebuild kits so that they could be repurposed and used in other repairs, helping to reduce the cost of buying parts that may already be in our arsenal of tools.

“Before, we had to dig through bags to find a part. If you couldn’t find it in the pile, you had to order it, which created an issue because then we were down buses needed to transport our passengers,” Jannet says of the trickle-down effects of a disorganized warehouse. “Now, things are easier to locate and keep inventory of.”

Board of Directors Chairman Ron Dailey, Materials Manager Rick Barone, Parts Clerk Jannet Villaseñor, her father and Equipment Mechanic Sergio Villaseñor, and CEO/General Manager Scott Graham at the May 1, 2019 Board meeting where Jannet was recognized as Employee of the Quarter for January-March 2019.

“Because of Jannet’s ingenuity, the efficiency of the Procurement-Parts Department has increased, allowing our mechanics to return buses to service quickly and avoiding dropped service. Jannet’s actions are an excellent example of outstanding customer service, communication, and leadership skills,” says Materials Manager Rick Barone.

Jannet has been building those skills since she was 18, when she began her career working for AutoZone. After five years, she became an assistant manager at O’Reilly Auto Parts. Her retail experience has helped shape her as a leader and given her invaluable customer service skills, which she utilizes daily as a parts clerk.

“This morning, a mechanic walked to the counter asking for a part that he needed, and I automatically replied ‘Sure, what type of car are you working on?’ she laughs. “It’s hard to shake off the retail voice sometimes.”

“I would like to thank my peers, Victor, Ray, and Alan, for being open to my suggestions, everyone at the East Valley facility for training me, and my dad for shaping my automotive mind,” says Jannet. “It’s a nice feeling to be able to contribute to the efficiency of our department, but it has not been without the help of a team.”