Faces of National Fuel: Serviceperson Randy M. Shares His Secret to Job Satisfaction and Providing Great Customer Service
Randy M. didn’t anticipate a career in the energy industry, but when his previous employer, an auto parts manufacturer, offered buyout options to its hourly workers in advance of idling production at its Buffalo, New York, plant, Randy seized on the opportunity to start anew. He accepted an entry-level job as a meter reader at National Fuel, and now, 12 years later, he’s thriving in a more senior role—serviceperson.
Here, Randy talks to us about his job, the trajectory of his career, and how working at National Fuel supports the life he wants to live.
On his role and responsibilities:
I handle everyday tasks like turning on gas in homes and also responding to emergencies like gas leaks. Emergencies include things like a meter being damaged or hit by a vehicle or a line being severed because of construction. We have scenarios where equipment is producing high amounts of carbon monoxide due to improper combustion. Sometimes elderly people are in a bad situation due to severe weather; we go out to get their heat running and make sure they're okay.
How he went from meter reader to serviceperson:
I took the initiative to go through a training program at a local community college to increase my chances of becoming a serviceperson. I made sure to get a 4.0, because I figured if I was number one in the class, I would get the job.
Why he likes coming to work in the morning:
I like that my job is not the same every day. I like to be challenged. I think when people aren’t challenged by their job, then it’s easy to become complacent. I also like the fact that, one day, if I ever want to move up to management, I might have that opportunity, depending on my performance throughout my years with the company. There’s a lot that you can do here. You can apply for different job titles and different departments. But in the meantime, I do enjoy working in the field customer service department.
His secrets of good customer service:
I deal with the public more than a lot of the other jobs at National Fuel, and right now I love it. I think I'm a very approachable individual. In dealing with the public, I attempt to identify with the type of person I’m dealing with. I base my speech and demeanor on what type of person they are. If I am dealing with an individual who is not having a good day, and they are angry or treating me harshly, I have to be prepared for that. I have to take a step back and observe who they are and act accordingly. Most of the time, I try to just listen and then respond clearly and calmly so they don’t get frustrated. I took psychology in school, so I think a little differently when I deal with the public. I handle myself very well.
On his previous job in the automotive industry:
I held a lot of different titles, but my last position there was tube welder. It was a very stressful job. It was hot, and there was a lot of pollution. They paid well, but we had to work very hard in a very tough environment to earn that money.
Why he decided to apply to National Fuel:
Whenever you think of utilities or any job that pertains to a utility, you think you're going make good wages and have good benefits and be at a place where you can make a career for yourself and retire from. So, that's what was appealing to me—the longevity aspect of it. I liked the idea of being at one company and learning everything possible to be a good employee. In turn, I’m regarded as a good employee by my employer.
How the two jobs compare:
At National Fuel, there is less stress on my body. I also get to think more, because my number one job is to keep the public safe in the sense of life and property. I have to be perfect every single time. This is a job that requires perfection.
His vision for his professional future:
In 10 years, I will probably try to get into the regulation department at National Fuel. I'll be 52 then, and as you get older, your body changes and you become more prone to injury, so I’ll probably try to pursue another, less physical job here at the company.
The things that keep him busy outside of work:
I flip houses. I ride motorcycles. I have an almost-18-year-old daughter, so whenever she's not busy I spend time with her. We go out to movies. We go shopping a lot. We like to bowl together.
On his greatest accomplishment:
I would say I'm most proud of my daughter. She’s starting college this year to study nursing. I'm proud of the accomplishment of being her father. And I'm thankful for my job, too. I'm able to provide for her and give her the life she deserves because of my job.