2,500 Veterans Aboard and Ingersoll Rand Wants More
The people and brands of Ingersoll Rand — including Club Car, Ingersoll Rand, Thermo King, and Trane — work together to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings. Ingersoll Rand is a $12 billion global business with a long history of hiring veterans. The company currently employs more than 2,500 of them in virtually every type of role across its business units. They include former officers and enlisted personnel, veterans with disabilities, and reservists.
In addition, Ingersoll Rand employs a large number of military spouses and other members of military families. The company has been in business for 143 years.
The future for manufacturing careers is bright, and Ingersoll Rand is hiring. The company’s greatest needs are in engineering, finance, procurement, and HVAC tech service. The company’s talent needs fit well with many military occupations, including HVAC tech, operations, logistics and supply chain, engineering, and technical sales. Ingersoll Rand has opportunities throughout the United States, so veterans can choose whether they want to return to their home of record, stay near a recent military duty station, or explore living somewhere new.
The core values of the military directly align with Ingersoll Rand’s values — integrity, respect, teamwork, innovation, and courage. Ingersoll Rand is a good fit for veterans because:
- the company’s leaders recognize the value that veterans can bring to the organization
- veterans have opportunities to thrive in many geographies and disciplines
- the company offers veteran networking, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities through its Veterans Employee Resource Group, which currently has more than 400 members
- the benefits package includes accommodations for reservists, flexible work options, and emergency back-up care
In 2011, Ingersoll Rand established a centralized talent acquisition (recruiting) organization. This group conducts an internal training program called Boot Camp with human resources and recruiting colleagues. The program provides information on how and where to recruit veterans, how to interpret a military resume, how the military branches are structured, how military culture works, and more. The program has enabled the recruiters to work more proactively to find military talent and to articulate better to the hiring department a veteran candidate’s fit for a particular role.
JEREMY DEGNAN / TALENT RECRUITER
Jeremy Degnan, a veteran of the United States Army, began his corporate career as a project manager in Ingersoll Rand’s global program management organization, supporting multiple business streams on strategic initiatives and projects. After spending a year and a half with this group, he became aware of an opportunity in the company’s talent acquisition department. The opportunity involved the support of technician hiring in the newly established Sales and Service Center of Excellence.
“I felt this opportunity evaluating talent and assisting with the company’s veteran hiring initiatives, given my previous experience managing teams in the Army’s technician career field, would make it a great fit,” Degnan said. He now recruits technicians up and down the East Coast. “My current role entails recruiting HVAC field technicians and controls technicians to support our Trane Commercial HVAC,” he said, “as well as recruiting compressed air technicians for our compressed air business all along the Eastern Seaboard from New England to Florida.”
Degnan held several jobs during his six years in the Army. “I earned my commission as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps at North Carolina State University, and was assigned to the First Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood,” he said. “My first responsibility was as a maintenance platoon leader leading 110 soldiers.”
His duties quickly grew. “Following that, I assumed responsibility of the support platoon, with responsibilities for fueling and transporting a 900-soldier battalion,” Degnan said. “While serving as the support platoon leader, our unit deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq, where we were responsible for the heavy task of route clearance. This involved identifying and clearing improvised explosive devices (IED’s), and supporting five patrol bases with our standard fueling and transportation missions. My unit was extended to a 15-month deployment in April of 2007.”
Degnan was also promoted. “In October of 2007, I assumed the role of executive officer for my company,” he said. “Upon returning home from the deployment, I was named company commander of a 223-soldier company — the largest company in the First Cavalry Division at the time — as a first lieutenant. I only held this job for a short time, before receiving orders to attend the Logistics Captains Careers Course in Fort Lee. During this time, I was promoted to captain.”
He then went back to Iraq. “While at the Captains Career Course, I received orders to join a military transition team,” he said. “As a member of this 10-person team, we deployed to Baghdad to support the training of Iraqi police. Upon graduation from the Captains Career Course, I moved to Fort Riley, joining the 10-person team assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. We trained as a team for 90 days prior to deploying to Iraq in 2009. It was during my second deployment that I decided to transition out of the Army. Upon returning home in 2010, I was honorably discharged.”
He credits his military experience for his success in the civilian sector. “The intangibles developed throughout the course of a military career are irreplaceable,” he said. “For me, it began with ROTC at NC State. I was trained very early in my career to problem-solve, manage people and emotions while focusing on the task at hand in incredibly stressful environments — all while working cross-functionally as part of a team to complete the mission. All of these skills facilitated a smooth transition to the civilian work force, where I continue to use them.”
WARREN W. MICHELSEN / DISTRICT GENERAL MANAGER
Warren W. Michelsen, a veteran of the United States Air Force, is general manager of Trane’s Northwest-Hawaii District. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1987. He was commissioned in the Air Force, and served for four years as an aircraft maintenance officer with the 92th Bombardment Wing in Spokane. After attaining the rank of captain, he joined Trane in 1992 and attended its Graduate Training Program.
“Following graduation from Trane’s Early Talent Technical Sales Program, I took the role of marketing engineer in Trane’s Lexington, Kentucky, facility,” he said. “I was soon promoted to the west territory regional sales engineer responsible for the sales of commercial air handlers. In 1995, I moved to Trane’s Pueblo, Colorado, location as a marketing engineer responsible for supporting sales of rotary-screw chillers. And a year later, I was promoted to national operations manager responsible for the Trane Rental Services business – and, later, product manager.
“In 1999, I was promoted to equipment sales manager at the Arizona commercial sales office; and six years later, I became the sales director of the west region responsible for equipment and controls sales. In 2007, I became the Albuquerque/ El Paso area manager responsible for transitioning the franchise office to company-owned. The following year, I was promoted to district general manager of the Northwest-Hawaii district.”
Michelsen is responsible for leading 175 associates while managing a $110 million-plus enterprise comprised of equipment sales and service as well as controls and energy contracting businesses. The district has offices in Anchorage; Honolulu; and Bellevue, Washington. Michelsen also supports five parts outlets in the three cities.
Michelsen’s military experience included aircraft support. “After completing the Aircraft Maintenance Officers course, I was assigned to the Field Maintenance Squadron (FMS) of the 92nd Bombardment Wing, where I was responsible for managing various maintenance branches in support of the flight line maintenance teams. Following my FMS assignment, I was transferred to the Organizational Maintenance Squadron (OMS) responsible for supporting the flight maintenance required for the B-52 bomber and KC-135 tanker wings.”
He said that his leadership roles really made a difference. “In all of my roles in the military, I was always a people leader responsible for leading and managing different maintenance teams with various missions,” he said. “I worked with all ranks from airman to colonel on a daily basis, and became very comfortable communicating with people at every level.
“The military helped me develop my leadership skills, teaching me how to effectively manage diverse and large groups of people early in my career. As a lieutenant, the military allowed me to experiment with different leadership styles and helped me develop managerial maturity – which still helps me in my role at Ingersoll Rand.”
“My military experience also prepared me to be flexible with my varied roles at Ingersoll Rand,” said Michelsen. “My USAF and Ingersoll Rand assignments have taught me that leadership is about motivating, compelling, and engaging others to be responsible and accountable for the roles they are assigned so that managers can focus on managing the business. My job, as a leader, is to blend leadership and management together to drive incremental growth for the business, while at the same time cultivating a positive and rewarding environment for my team.”
Michelsen advises veterans who are seeking employment to focus on finding the right company and not worry about titles. “It is vital to find a company that values your experiences and has a culture where you can thrive,” he said. “And you should not be afraid to take a role which you perceive as involving less responsibility than your military role. If it is a good fit, you can always be promoted through demonstrated performance in the future.”
He said it is also crucial to leave some of the military culture behind. “While military protocol is good, in the corporate arena it is okay for you to speak up when things don’t seem or feel right – as long as you follow corporate protocol,” he said. “For example, in some situations, ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ can be perceived as too formal and leave people with the impression that a person has not fully assimilated into the business world and is not ready for increased responsibility.”
What about applying for a job at Ingersoll Rand? Michelsen said that a veteran needs to articulate how his or her military experience is relevant to that particular job. “For example, when I was applying for the Trane Rental Services national operations manager role, I drew a correlation between maintaining and preparing aircraft for their next mission with maintaining and preparing HVAC equipment for their next rental.”
“It is up to the candidate to explain how their previous military roles can be relevant,” said Michelsen. “If the candidate is applying for a leadership role, he or she should provide three to five key leadership and management examples that can be applied to the business world, such as year-over-year metric improvements and size/scope of leadership responsibility for each military role. After all, both military and civilian organizations have similar deadlines, personnel issues, accountability, budgets, and responsibility measures. Do not assume that the interviewers can translate your experiences to the role for which they are hiring. It is your responsibility to connect the dots.”
JORDAN NOWLIN / TECH APPRENTICE
Jordan Nowlin, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, is an HVAC field technician apprentice with Trane in Nashville. He shadows and learns from the other technicians to build his knowledge of the service work.
Nowlin joined the Marine Corps in May 2009. He served as an aircraft mechanic for three years, and was a mobile maintenance facility technician for two years. He was honorably discharged as a corporal in November 2013, and joined Ingersoll Rand the next month.
While in the military, Nowlin took advantage of an education experience – and it is paying off now. “I had the opportunity to complete an HVAC course and obtain my HVAC certification,” he said. “Both the course and certification were key pieces that set me up for success after my military service was over.
“I realized that I needed skills that would be easily transferable once I was ready for civilian life, and am thankful I took advantage of these offerings. As far as regret, I wish I would have started school as soon as I had the opportunity instead of waiting to begin.”
Nowlin encourages veterans to think through what they want to do after the military, and then obtain the necessary skills and education as soon as they can. “Research the necessary skills required for your desired job, and identify what degrees and/or certifications are needed to gain employment in that specific field,” he said.
Being positive and professional will help a veteran find the right post-military career, according to Nowlin. “To get a job at a company like Ingersoll Rand, a positive attitude and a professional mindset and appearance are a must,” he said. “The transition to the private sector can be tough, but having the correct skills and training will help make that transition easier and more rewarding.”
Nowlin also encourages veterans to be patient and to expect there to be challenges when they begin job hunting. “My advice would be to have patience in yourself and the process, and to be confident in your abilities,” he said. “Additionally, do not underestimate the challenges and differences of the civilian workforce versus those in the military. There are big differences between the environments of combat and corporate offices. For me, it is the little things that can be difficult to process – for example, language, rank and structure, and attitude. These subtle differences can be surprisingly difficult to adjust to, and it will take time to be comfortable. Put yourself in a position where you can leverage your personal and unique strengths. You will have a shorter learning curve and will feel like you are adding value to your company sooner.”
Nowlin said that Ingersoll Rand understands that veterans have a lot to offer. “Keep a positive and professional approach in your daily work efforts, and it will enable you to build relationships,” he said. “At Ingersoll Rand, we know the value a veteran can bring to the table, and we enjoy putting people in positions where we know they will succeed. Don’t be shy or timid about reaching out to connect with people, and be confident that your skills will translate to a successful career.”