Editor’s Note: The following story by Career Coach Will Leineweber highlights job opportunities at Air Products. Committed to filling its ranks with talented members of the military community, Air Products is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
This December, I travelled to Cleveland, Ohio, to spend the day with managers and technicians at an Air Products facility. What I found was interesting for a few reasons: There are many players in the industrial gas business who produce the same thing, but Air Products’ people and philosophy set it apart.
I’ve spent the better part of 10 years helping veterans find jobs in the civilian world, and helping companies get better at hiring the right veterans. It’s not unusual to find an organization that wants to spend money toward hiring from the military community. What is unusual is working with a company where veterans’ hiring is embedded in its DNA, which is the case with Air Products as they strive to be the safest, most diverse industrial gas company in the world.
The facility I visited is called a “piggyback” — a production site for a factory next door. Air Products makes the gases that the steel factory across the fence needs to run its production process. If the Air Products site has a problem, then the steel plant has a problem, and everybody has a problem! This is part of what drives a culture that many veterans would find familiar: Safety first, reliability always.
At an Air Products facility, everything is interconnected and so are the people. If there’s a problem with the cooling system or a valve needs to be replaced, everyone has an interest in pitching in. Management does not lead from a remote office, they are right there where the problem is, wearing a hard hat and getting dirty. This is not the kind of environment for people who want to wear khakis and eat cupcakes at the water cooler; you’re in the elements and you’re moving on your feet throughout the day. Sound familiar?
Leaders hired into Air Products tend to be problem-solvers by nature: able to quickly prioritize tasks, deal with different personality types effectively, wear a few different hats, and apply sound judgment to maintain operations in a 24/7 environment. If you’re an officer, why would you want to work here? You have the advantages and resources of a Fortune 200 company, but you’re leading at a location where you have significant decision-making authority with a small team. That small team has a large impact, so everything that you do is meaningful. You’re not a drone in a cubicle farm, you’re out front leading and learning from a team that knows what it’s doing. What you do and say matters, your people matter, and there’s no room for loafers.
There are a lot of Navy veterans in the Air Products workforce; transferring your skills from a sub or surface ship isn’t a stretch in this environment. Air Products tends to hire enlisted technicians and officers throughout the year. You do not have to be an O-3; many field grade officers have found success here after doing their 20 on active duty.
That’s not to say that the workforce is totally military. What you’ll typically find is an interesting mix of civilian “lifers” who’ve been with the company for 20-plus years providing on-the-job training for new military hires.
At Air Products, veteran hiring and retention is baked into the culture. Employees remember their first phone call with the recruiting team and often stay in touch with the people who brought them into the company for years. There is a passion and genuine interest in finding the right people and setting them up for success. It’s a challenging and rewarding environment where the company gives young leaders a lot of runway; there’s no one looking over your shoulder from minute to minute. At Air Products you will find stability and a path into a long-term career.