Thu, Apr 29, 2021 01:05 PM
Meet Kevin Hawes, the coatings operations manager at Greenbrier Paragould in Arkansas.
He has been with the organization for 21 years and is a Certified National Corrosion Engineer.
Kevin started his career with Trinity Industries as a janitor. Over the course of 11 years, he was promoted to positions of increasing responsibility until he became the Lead at the lining shop. Kevin was then offered a Paint Technician job at American Railcar Industries (ARI) in Paragould, Arkansas. He accepted the offer and served in that capacity for five years. He then moved to the Coating’s Manager position at one of the two paint facilities at the Paragould site. After several years as the Coating’s Manager, Kevin was promoted to the Coatings Operations Manager in 2015.
Kevin also serves on Greenbrier’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Committee (DISC) and is one of the representatives from Arkansas. He participated in a Q&A session about the person who inspires him most. See his answer below:
"Mrs. Annie Laura Hawes, my mother, was the most inspiring person in my life. My father passed away from a brain aneurysm when I was only eight years old. Her commitment and loyalty to her family never ceased. I was the youngest of twelve kids being raised by my mother. Her work ethic was nothing short of amazing – She worked two jobs to provide for us. My mother had to be at work at the restaurant by 6:00 am, so she would get up at 4:00 am to catch the bus. At eight years old, I learned the value of work ethic from my mother. I started getting up with my mother to walk her to the bus stop. I would stay there until the bus arrived and then ran the three blocks back home.
I started doing jobs around the neighborhood – as much as an eight-year-old could do, at least! I carried neighbors’ groceries from their cars. I never asked for payment but knew they would give me something. I knew because they knew whose son I was. They would always ask me, “Aren’t you Annie Laura’s son?” I would respond, “Yes, ma’am, I am!” I would use the money from grocery assistance to buy gasoline for my lawnmower. As we used to say back then, we cut grass for people. Now it’s called mowing the lawn. Everyone liked my mother. There were people in the neighborhood that no one had much to do with, but my mother would always welcome them inside to eat or just talk.
At 13 years old, I started to work for my mother at the restaurant on the weekends as a dishwasher. That would help me buy my school clothes. At that time, she was the Kitchen Manager. Everyone who reported to her respected her, as she was never one to get upset. She never panicked and exuded confidence. She never treated anyone differently, even me, her son. She treated me just like everyone else that reported to her. I think my mother was a diverse person before diversity was even a consideration. She taught me to accept people for who they are. “Everyone is special in God’s eyes,” is something she frequently said.
There are several stories I can remember about my mother that people would say are amazing. I say that’s just my mom. I think her biggest asset was her compassion for others. This next story demonstrates that quality:
When I was around ten years old, a neighbor’s house caught on fire, and they lost everything. The neighbor had three children ranging in age from eight to thirteen. My mother took the entire family in along with her own kids. By this time, two of my brothers had joined the armed services. My older sister had her own place, so in my mother’s mind, that cleared some space in the house. I can remember that family living with us until they were able to get back on their feet. We shared our clothes, our food and our shelter.
In closing, my mother never simply accepted the situation she was put in because that would have been giving up. She went above and beyond for her family. My father had six children before marrying my mother, who then had six kids with my father after they married. After my father passed, my mother continued to raise the children that were not hers. She did everything in her power to make sure that nobody was left behind. She could have easily given up on her family, but she didn’t. I always say, if you accept the situation you are in, you have stopped trying to do better. My mother taught me determination, commitment, compassion, success and loyalty. In other words, she taught me how to be the man that I am today. My mother passed away in 2004. She is truly missed."