Trent Blalock is the deputy commander for business operations at MDMC and MCLC.
“On the Job With ...” is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today’s session is with Trent Blalock, deputy commander for business operations at Marine Depot Maintenance Command at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.
Q. What was your first job?
A. My very first job was mowing yards in Thomasville where I grew up. I was 10 or 12 years old then. I got $6 for a yard. Later on I pulled weeds out of peanut fields.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?
A. I’m sure I saved most or all of it.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. Communication. Listening and ensuring the message is well communicated.
Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to what you’re doing now?
A. I started on the base 23 years ago in accounting, doing the financials for the two Marine depots. When I got an opportunity to be deputy commander 10 years ago, I appreciated the chance to do something for my country. I never dreamed I’d be so close to our end customer — the young Marines who benefit from our efforts.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. Too many to mention by name. Some have been positive and others negative. I like to think I’ve learned a lot from all of them. The negative models showed me what I didn’t want to become.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you in your position have learned from the recent recession?
A. I spent five years in the retail business — the old Firestone store downtown — prior to going to the base. I learned a lot about customer service and loyalty there. If we take care of our customers’ needs and expectations we’ll continue to be in the game.
Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology — examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. — what would you most like to see go away?
A. The easy answer is email. I get about 100 a day. The reality is that it’s allowed improved communication. I would definitely like to get rid of the “reply to all” option. Automated phone systems are a problem for me. Nothing replaces communicating with a real person when you really have a problem.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. My Blackberry allows me to be in touch with folks all over the globe. We have personnel in Barstow, Calif., and all over the lower 48 states and in Kuwait and Afghanistan. At a moment’s notice I can know if there are issues anywhere. Yes, it’s 24/7/365 but that’s our mission.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. Spending time with my family. Whether that’s chilling at home with my wife, Michelle, playing golf with her and my sons or having Christmas in Thomasville with the whole family.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. “Leadership Gold” by John Maxwell. What I learned from that is that the hardest person to lead is yourself. Great words. I’m currently reading “The Speed of Trust” at the recommendation of my boss, Col. Medeiros, commander, Marine Depot Maintenance Command. Trust is a very powerful thing. Trust improves relationships as well as work applications.
Q. I’m up and going by? What is your morning routine?
A. My alarm is set for 4.35 a.m. I’m at the YMCA at 5 a.m., when they open, and do this five days a week. Normally I’m up early for golf on Saturday and on Sundays for church. I love my weekend naps.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A. I’d like to have dinner or a day with all my grandparents. Three of four of them died when I was relatively young. I would talk about life, family and anything else they would tell me or advise me on. The lesson here is to take advantage of every day of your life. I’me very grateful that my kids, who are in their 20s, have been able to know all four grandparents today. I’ve told them how fortunate they are.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. Working out at the YMCA and playing golf. Almost forgot Alabama football.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. No regrets. I believe I have the best job on base, have a great mission and work with great people. What more could you ask for? I’m so blessed in many ways — personally and job wise.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. Daily challenges and the super people I work with — Marine and civilian.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. It’s demanding. I try to turn it off when I go home, but that’s not easy. Waking up at two or three in the morning wears on you. That’s why we need balance.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. I have a degree in accounting and firmly believe this background has prepared me for my career path.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. Professional golfer. I’m sure the folks I play with will laugh at that. And Alabama football coach.
Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …
A. Playing golf, sitting on Destin beach, volunteering and just enjoying life.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. Integrity. Doing the right thing. We have to take care of our people and take care of business.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. It won’t happen quickly, but over time. I’m in this year’s Leadership Albany class and there are a lot of good things going on in Albany and surrounding communities, accomplished by people who aren’t getting much attention. We focus too much on the bad things that are happening every day. I think it would be helpful for our community leaders to read “The Speed of Trust.”
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. 70s Country and contemporary Christian.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. Getting away from the negativity and exposing all the positive to others so they can be involved, create energy and accomplish great things for the good of the community.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?
A. A couple of years ago Michelle and I went on a seven-day cruise. That was great. Then last year I turned 50. We celebrated for about a month. No kidding. The best part was the time we spent in Vegas with Michelle and my sons, Chad and Reid. It’s all about quality time with your family.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. We’ve almost tripled our workforce in the past eight years in support of OIF/OEF contingencies. That amount of growth creates many challenges.