Zeznanski was also impressed with the awards presentation arranged for Gates by JLG. In most cases, he makes presentations to the award recipient in a private office, with few people in attendance. However, the presentation for Gates took place on the shop floor at the Weber Lane facility in Bedford, enabling employees to watch as both Zeznanski and Andy Tacelosky, JLG vice president global manufacturing operations, delivered remarks. Dwight Weist attended the event on behalf of his son, and a celebratory luncheon followed the presentation.
“The time and energy JLG invested in the program is just another illustration of the support they offer our service members and the significance they place on the award Gates received,” said Zeznanski.
Looking back on the presentation, the elder Weist remarked, “I am a very proud father. I have a young son who is willing to leave his family and his job to serve his country. But, I’m also proud of Dwight and the fact that I work with a fellow supervisor who followed through and did the proper things to get my son ready to go.”
Gates sees it differently. “I didn’t think I was doing anything special at the time,” he recalled. “I made schedule changes so that Daniel could go home and get the rest he required to perform his military duties the following day. Leading up to his deployment, there were times he needed to be out to take care of things in preparation for his departure, so I made sure he got any time he needed to do that and be with his family. And I took the time to talk with him, asking him about things he had going on in his personal and military life, and where he might need some assistance.
“But I was really stunned to receive the award,” he continued. “Now, I’m also honored. It’s very special to me and something I was happy to take home and share with my wife and two daughters, demonstrating to them the good things you can do in life, sometimes without even knowing it.”
Gates is a production supervisor at the Bedford Weber Lane facility with nearly 17 years experience at JLG. He began his career as a welder and was later promoted to group leader before transferring to the Service Plus (formerly Equipment Services) facility in McConnellsburg, Pa., in an assembly/teardown position. There, he was again named group leader before being promoted to supervisor and eventually moving back to the Weber Lane site.
This was Gates’ first experience working with a reservist. “But it’s not an uncommon experience throughout JLG,” noted Andy Tacelosky. “As a company, we make it a practice to support our men and women in uniform whenever we can, and it’s especially nice when one of our employees is singled out and publicly recognized for his or her individual efforts.”
“We do other, less formal things, as well,” added Gary Morgart, operations manager at JLG’s Weber Lane and Sunnyside Road facilities. “For example, the team here is sending care packages to Daniel, writing postcards to him and sending him copies of ourGround Support e-newsletter, just to keep him aware of things happening with team members. We want him to know we care about him, we’re still concerned about him, and that when he comes back to JLG, he has a JLG family to welcome him home.”
Perhaps most importantly, in this time of economic uncertainty, Weist will have a job waiting for him. “We regularly look at our staffing and rotate people around to fill the void until he returns,” explained Morgart. Meanwhile, Weist is working as a mechanic on the Apache helicopter engine and is cross trained on the Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
“All of the support Daniel is receiving here at home is imperative as he pursues his assignment abroad,” said Zeznanski. “I’m a retired command sergeant major with the U.S. Army Reserves, and I can tell you from personal experience with multiple deployments, the support Dwight and the rest of JLG provides means service members have far fewer things to worry about. As a result, they can concentrate on the job before them rather than the one they left behind.”