By: Garrett Simmons
Employee Name: Jason Mauney
Title: Operational Equipment Manager
Years at Blythe: 17
Operational Equipment Manager Jason Mauney has no trouble remembering the exact year he was hired to work at Blythe Construction. In fact, he is unlikely to ever forget it. Not because it marked the beginning of a long and fruitful career with the company—although it did—but because of the many other life-changing events that took place during that same year, events which challenged him deeply at the time but which, looking back seventeen years later, he can almost appreciate.
At the start of 2001, Mauney was employed as a Dock Supervisor for Southeastern Freight Lines in Charlotte, NC. A self-proclaimed “company man,” he had every intension of keeping his job there. But family tragedy that summer disrupted Mauney’s sense of permanence and stability, and in early September he was fired from his position at Southeastern Freight—or as he jokingly puts it, “I was made available to the industry.”
In his early twenties at the time, Mauney spent a long weekend regrouping. The following Tuesday, as he gathered a stack of resumes to hit the streets of Charlotte, news broke on TV that terrorists were attacking the World Trade Center.
“I’ll always remember it for that reason,” he says. “The timeline is clear in my mind because of that.”
Another month would pass before one day, out of the blue, an old coworker who had found a job with Blythe called Mauney to tell him the company was hiring. Again, the timing was memorable. “I was literally packing a bag to go work in Savannah,” he recalls. His plan was to work six days in Georgia and drive back every seventh day to spend time with his then girlfriend, soon to become his wife. Thrilled by the prospect of remaining close to her, he abandoned his plans for Savannah on the spot and drove to Blythe’s Graham Street office to put in his application.
There, Mauney interviewed with Blythe’s Division Equipment Manager, Steve Burleyson, who hired him that afternoon. On March 10th, one month and three days after he had been fired, he went to work at Blythe Construction as a Heavy Haul Dispatcher.
Mauney’s freight experience translated perfectly to the tasks of his new position: arranging loads for delivery, processing order payments, and billing jobsites. As a result, he often completed his dispatch duties early. “I figured there just wasn’t enough work for me,” he recalls thinking. As the equipment department gradually began thinning out, either through senior employees retiring or less competent employees being fired, Mauney took on greater responsibilities.
Over the next fifteen years, Mauney ascended within the company to become Equipment Manager, adapting his leadership style to what he describes as Blythe’s production-focused culture at the time. “I was a jerk. Or maybe that’s how some people took me,” he says. “I can just be very direct in my communication. Especially when something’s not working.”
Then in 2016, chest pains following a trip to Atlanta landed Mauney in the E.R. Doctors identified several blocked arteries to his heart and arranged for immediate triple-bypass surgery. Recalling his response to the news, Mauney says it was a shock, but explains, “You realize this isn’t an elective, it’s required. Just accept it and move forward.”
Under doctors’ orders, Mauney spent more three months at home recovering. During that time, he says, he discovered how central his employer had become in his life, and how personally valued he had become. “People from Blythe checked in on me,” he says, including the company President and CEO. “Cahill called me every week. How many company presidents would do that? Not many, I’m willing to bet.”
Two years later and fully recovered from his surgery, Mauney says the experience has given him new perspective on what’s important in life, as well as in work.
“I’m sappier now,” he admits. “I take things to heart more. My family is more important to me.” Although Mauney and his wife do not have children, he has a large family of nieces and nephews in the Charlotte area, many of whom have children of their own. “That’s right,” he says with a laugh. “I’m that old.” One of them, his nephew Josh, has even joined the Blythe family as a Construction Engineer.
In an interesting way, says Mauney, he and Blythe have evolved along a similar trajectory. “Around here, the mentality used to be push, push, push, get it done. There has been a shift over the last few years, putting a major emphasis on safety,” he says. “The focus now is guaranteeing everyone goes home in one piece at the end of the day.”
That doesn’t mean Mauney doesn’t still get stressed out. “It’s my nature,” he explains. “How I do my job is how I’m perceived, so it’s important to me to work hard. But that’s put in the perspective of also wanting to take care of my family and be good to those I care about.”
At last, he and Blythe have reached a stage where they can do both.