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FedEx Family Ties

May 7, 2009

If Jarrod Rogers decides to surprise his mother with a gift at work before Mother’s Day, he won’t have far to go to personally deliver it.

He could simply take a quick stroll from the package-sorting area to a stairwell that leads to the regional office in the FedEx Ground hub near Denver, where he is a package handler and his mother is an administrative assistant.

Jarrod and his mother, Caroline Rogers, are one of several mother-child duos in the FedEx workforce. The relationships, which are often not known by many co-workers, provide interesting takes on Mother’s Day from an unusual point of view.

Celebrated on the second Sunday in May in North America, Mother’s Day is a cherished time to honor mothers and thank them for their love and support.  It has become a major gift-giving holiday, second only to Christmas in the United States. It’s also the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the U.S., and the second most popular holiday for floral purchases.

FedEx supports the robust commercial activity by offering a broad array of shipping services to deliver products in time for Mother’s Day. With suppliers, merchants and shoppers depending on FedEx to provide excellent service for almost every holiday shipping need and price range, the days leading up to Mother’s Day are traditionally somewhat busy for many FedEx team members, at least for spring.

But for mother-child duos at FedEx like Caroline Rogers and Jarrod Rogers, the holiday is notable for much more than the potential impact on their workloads. Unlike most of us, they will celebrate Mother’s Day from the unique perspective of having both endured and enjoyed the challenges and rewards that come with being employed by the same company as their mother or adult child  – in some cases even in the same office and on the same shift.  

Here are some of their stories:

Caroline Rogers and Son Jarrod Rogers

When Caroline Rogers was hired as a part-time data entry clerk at RPS (Roadway Package Systems) in 1982, her son Jarrod was a two-year-old toddler. She left to work elsewhere for a few years and then returned shortly before the company, which had become Caliber System Inc., was acquired by FedEx Corp. in 1998 and eventually rebranded FedEx Ground.

Since then, Caroline has worked her way up to administrative assistant for the director of the Mountain Region for FedEx Ground. Jarrod, who is now a 19-year-old college freshman, works part-time as a package handler in the same facility on the outskirts of Denver, despite his mother’s initial concerns that the job might be too physically demanding for him.

“She always said that working in the hub looked really tough, and she tried to talk me out of it. But here I am now,” laughed Jarrod, who has been at FedEx Ground for eight months.

Jarrod seldom sees his mother on the job because they’re in separate departments and work different hours. But when he arrives home after work, she usually asks him about his day and occasionally offers job-related advice and encouragement. The experience has had a positive impact on their relationship.

“For me as a mother to know that my son Jarrod works for an exceptional company like FedEx Ground gives me great pride and high hopes for him,” Caroline said. “I know that his future (at FedEx Ground) has the possibility to be challenging, yet successful and fulfilling.”

For his part, Jarrod said he hopes to remain at FedEx Ground after he completes college. He plans to follow in his mother’s footsteps by climbing his way up the ladder.

“Working for FedEx Ground has been a surprisingly good experience for me, and the fact that my mom and I work for the same company is really awesome,” Jarrod said.

Debby Franklin and Daughter Hollie Franklin

Imagine your mother bringing lunch to your desk at work. It happens to Hollie Franklin all the time.

Hollie, an associate technical analyst at FedEx Services, is the daughter and only child of Debby Franklin, a senior technical analyst at FedEx Services. They roll up to the same middle management-level director and work in the same section of the same building at the FedEx World Technology Center in Collierville, Tenn.

Debby is a 26-year FedEx veteran who started as a customer service agent at FedEx Express; daughter Hollie is in her second year as a FedEx Services employee, after a few short stints as a summer contractor while she was in college.

When Hollie needs to work through lunch, she can count on her mother to bring food. They try to meet for a lunch date during the workweek at least once a month.

“Hollie and I are extremely close, as most ‘only’ children probably are to their mothers,” Debby explained. “She is truly my best friend and working with her has been wonderful. I’m extremely proud of her work ethic, but more importantly, her beautiful spirit.”

Thanks to her mother, Hollie was indoctrinated to some aspects of FedEx at a very young age. When she was five, a FedEx Express jet was named in her honor after her name was drawn from a fishbowl containing the names of thousands of children of FedEx Express employees. (FedEx Express has traditionally named its jet aircraft in honor of randomly selected children of employees.)

When Hollie was eight, her mother leaned on her to help field test new FedEx Express e-commerce shipping software before the software was released  to meet an anticipated shipping surge for Mother’s Day.

“She sat me down at the kitchen table with a boxed PC and label printer, along with a software CD and user guide, then said, ‘Ship a package’,’’ Hollie recalled. “She refused to answer any of my questions along the way, but always wrote down everything I said. Her rationale was that if a third grader could set up a PC and install software, a warehouse manager with limited technological experience could too.”

For other adult children who might find themselves in the position of being employed by the same company as their mother or father, Hollie offers sage advice: Work extra hard to dispel any notions that you were hired merely based on your parent’s connection with the company. She proudly points out that some co-workers with whom she frequently interacts still don’t know that she is Debby’s daughter.

“It didn’t take me long to discover that my mom has a wonderful reputation at FedEx,” said Hollie, who seems intent on building her own reputation. “I am so proud to be her daughter! I ask her for advice all the time….I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.”

Maria do Carmo Bergamo and Son Thomas Bergamo

Maria do “Carmo” Bergamo and her son Thomas Bergamo are FedEx Express customer service agents in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Mother’s Day is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

Although they perform the same job duties, they work different shifts. The only time they see each other in the office is when their managers hold special team meetings on Saturdays as part of the feedback process of the Survey Feedback Action (SFA) program, which is a method of measuring and then improving the “People” component of the People-Service-Profit philosophy at FedEx Express. Carmo usually bakes two chocolate cakes for the SFA meetings – one to share with her co-workers; the other for Thomas to share with his.

During a recent a SFA meeting, Carmo was honored for her 15-year anniversary at FedEx Express. Her manager surprised her by arranging for Thomas, who has been on the job for a year, to present her anniversary gift. She was touched, partly because she is proud of her son.

“This experience is so nice,” Carmo said of working at FedEx Express with Thomas. “I am very proud of him because in these 15 years working for FedEx I have never seen an agent like him. He has been receiving so many compliments from satisfied customers.”

Over the years, Thomas recalls hearing his mother frequently discuss her job in positive terms. It slowly piqued his interest in possibly working at FedEx Express, especially after he began to grasp the significance of Brazil’s booming trade exports, some of which are facilitated by FedEx.

“It affected my decision because if my mother’s job wasn’t nice, she wouldn’t have stayed working (at FedEx) for all these years,” Thomas said. “I remember her talking about Brazilian exportation growing…It made me realize how important FedEx is to my country.”

Now that he has joined her at FedEx Express, Thomas and his mother    sometimes discuss work away from the office, which has not gone unnoticed by other family members who sometimes seem to feel a bit left out.

“My son and I note that my husband seems to be very curious when we are talking about work. It is very funny,” Carmo said with a laugh. “It is like when a father talks about men’s issues with his son. They speak about cars, tools, (sports) games, etc…My son and I speak about work.”

Dawn McClure and Daughter Diona McCreight

Judging by the number of photographs in her cubicle at the FedEx Express World Headquarters in Memphis, Dawn McClure is fond of her two-year-old grandson. Her daughter, who is the toddler’s mother and who happens to work on the same campus, is a bit more restrained.

“She asks me why I have more pictures in my cubicle displayed of her child than she does,” said Dawn, explaining some of the good-natured ribbing she often endures from her daughter, Diona McCreight.

Dawn, a business systems advisor at FedEx Express, has been with the company 22 years. Diona is in her fourth year at FedEx Express, where she is a Properties department project coordinator responsible for monitoring and ensuring adherence to contracts on leased office facilities.    

Partly because of her mother’s rewarding career and positive experiences at FedEx Express, Diona declined a job offer from another Memphis-based Fortune 500 company in order to work at FedEx.

“Now that we both work for the same company and are in very close proximity to each other, it is a great feeling,” Diona said. “We have sort of a sisterly bond, not like your average mother-daughter relationship…It’s a great feeling to know that there is a loved one nearby.”

The great feeling comes with at least one handy perk. Call it the ‘Mother-Child Motor Club’ benefit. If your car is parked in the company parking lot but it won’t start, simply borrow your mother’s or your child’s car in the same parking lot without skipping a beat. Diona took advantage of that benefit during a lunch break this past winter when she discovered that her car wouldn’t start.

“I confirmed with my mom (via cell phone) from the parking lot that she did not have any lunch plans or errands to run. Since I have the spare key to everything she owns, I told her that I would return her car to the same parking spot in an hour! That simple – no questions, no explanations,” Diona said.

Unlike some other mother-child duos at FedEx, Dawn and Diona say they rarely discuss work away from the office. But they say that working at the same place has definitely had a positive impact on their relationship. They usually meet once a week for lunch, and they often go to the spa together to participate in exercise classes after work.
“My co-workers see us interact together and think we are sisters,” Dawn said. “I am very proud of my daughter’s accomplishments, with her completing her Finance degree and MBA prior to getting married. She is very mature and disciplined. But after hours, she could be a stand-up comedian.”               

So, what will they do to celebrate Mother’s Day? Turns out that it probably won’t be anything out of the ordinary because Diona says she shows her love and appreciation for her mother throughout the year.

“I’m not the type that reacts or responds to a specific day on the calendar to do something for my mother,” Diona explained. “And she never expects or asks for anything….I get satisfaction from just seeing her expressions from reading a simple (greetings) card or telling her a funny story about her grandson. My mother really values family, so her Mother’s Day would be special just having her loved ones in her presence.”