It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday and Brian Vandeventer could have gone home hours ago. A team manager at Rawsonville with 30 years of service and an upcoming retirement, nobody would have questioned an early departure. But instead, Vandeventer hung around to ensure RCP’s BEV line reached its rate of climb. On his final day, he even came in early to help his team conduct an interview.
“It’s about the people,” that’s what Vandeventer always said. At his retirement luncheon, those same co-workers shared stories about how Vandeventer cared for them as people, and not just employees.
“He took a real long shot with a railroader who didn’t have much in the way of personnel skills,” said Process Coach Ann Litke who worked for Vandeventer for years. Vandeventer mentored Litke and showed her the things about working on the shop floor that they don’t teach in new employee orientations. But for Litke, the story that stood out, was what happened when she wasn’t in the plant at all.
A couple of years ago, Litke was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she was undergoing treatment, Vandeventer would text her just to see how she was doing. Litke said that there were times she couldn’t respond because she was too tired, but she held back tears as she expressed how much it meant to her.
Process Coach Nickolas Howes II said being hired by Vandeventer changed his life, and also gave him a good story to tell at parties After a few phone interviews with Vandeventer, Howes imagined his soon-to-be-boss, who had a southern accent, to be a farmer. “When we met for our in-person interview, Brian did throw me for a loop with his 80’s chest hair and gold chain, but he’s been the best boss I could hope to have. He gave me a chance to provide for my wife and my future family,” Howes said.
When Frank Murray, Chairman Local 898 told him that he was appreciative of everything he’d done for the facility, he nodded proudly. He isn’t the biggest fan of public speaking, but when it was time to speak, he said “the best thing about this job is the people. It’s about the people, if you look at what Rawsonville was then and compare it to what it is now, all I can do is thank you all for letting me ride the wave.”
Now that the wave is over, Vandeventer plans to go home to his wife and former Ford employee Paula Vandeventer. Together the two of them are going to hop on their Harley Davidson and drive across the country to Florida so that he can see his granddaughter’s softball tournament.
After Brian and his wife return from the trip, the thing Vandeventer is looking forward to the most is spending time with family and enjoying the outdoors and sleeping. “I’m not getting up at 4 a.m. unless I want to go hunting or fishing,” Vandeventer said.
Rawsonville’s skilled trades team presented Vandeventer with a plaque commemorating his 30 years of service with Ford Motor Company. On his way out an engineer on the BEV line said “I think you’re going out on top, the line is making its rate. You and your wife have your health and you’re planning trips. If they could write a book on retiring and going out on top.”