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From Laborer to Executive:
5 Lessons Ray Rook Has Learned as Vice President of Supply Chain
Sometimes a job is just a way to pay the bills, but sometimes it’s a turning point in a person’s life. When Ray Rook joined Mark VII in 1995, he had no idea of how much this entry-level job would shape his future.
“I was interested in machinery and knew my friend Travis liked working here,” said Rook, who washed his neighbors’ cars to earn money as a kid.
Rook’s friend passed his name along to Bob Ulrich, a manager at Mark VII. “Bob told me he’d give me a chance, only because Travis recommended me,” Rook said. “Bob added that if I failed, he’d have to fire both of us. I took that as a challenge.”
Rook landed a job in the metal shop at Mark VII. He was a “button pusher,” working the second shift from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Within his first six months on the job, he was promoted to the machine shop, where he began learning how to program the CNC machine. “I would take information home at night and study it to learn more about the machine,” Rook recalled. “It was fascinating to me to see that big machine follow the code I’d written.”
Rook’s career continued to evolve at Mark VII until 2008, when a weak global economy triggered layoffs. “That was a tough time to find a job,” said Rook, who took a huge pay cut in the first three months of his layoff when he began working for one of Mark VII’s installers. Rook then became a process engineer for a job shop.
Within a year of the layoff, Bob Ulrich had the opportunity to hire Rook again. “I came back to Mark VII with a humbled approach and a new role,” Rook said.
Before the layoff, Rook had been an assembly manager with many people reporting to him. When he was hired back at Mark VII, his job focused on reverse-engineering equipment and solving problems. “That’s still a big part of what I do today,” said Rook, who shares five business lessons he has learned throughout his long career with Mark VII.
This is important as Mark VII develops its tunnel car-wash division. Mark VII’s culture of recruiting and retaining top talent supports this growth, said Rook, who added that a number of fathers and sons and husbands and wives work at Mark VII. It’s not uncommon for strong friendships to flourish here, as well. “This place is like family,” said Rook, who prepares a BBQ lunch once a month throughout the summer for his team. “We’re building on a strong foundation as we grow for the future.”
Enjoy learning about Ray's astounding professional growth in the industry? Read more stories here.