The Heart and Soul of Approved.
With a combined 78 years at The DeWitt Companies, Marie Flores and George Fomenko aren’t just logistics experts – they’re examples of what it means to be ‘Ohana. Marie and George were two of the first five employees of Approved Freight Forwarders, and have dedicated their lives to Approved’s growth and success. Last December, they received Collaborative Diamond awards for their service to the company, and for embodying what it means to “Be ‘Ohana.” We’d like to highlight these two very important members of our Approved family.
Originally from Latvia, George’s parents and grandparents were prisoners in Dachau, the German concentration camp where George was born in 1944. The only child born in the camp who is known to have survived, George was spared when his family managed to escape. They later migrated to America.
After settling in Highland Park, George’s dad was given a job by Woodrow DeWitt, one of the founding fathers of The DeWitt Companies. George began his 58-year career at the company in 1959, while still in junior high school. Grateful for the opportunity, George “learned how to work and build a strong work ethic.” To this day, George challenges himself to master anything that comes his way, and enjoys the fact that “there’s nothing cookie-cutter” about his job.
“…if you see your brother or sister struggling, lend a hand to get that part going…Everybody pitches in, it’s not ‘your’or ‘my’ job.”
In 1991, George became one of Approved Freight Forwarders’ first five employees. When initially approached about Approved, George was willing to talk, as long as he didn’t have to stop working or get down from the forklift. “My priority was to get the freight loaded,” he said. Not surprisingly, George chose to work for close to ten years without a day off.
George treats everything on the dock as if it were his own, making sure freight is well protected and damages are reported. To George, the ‘Ohana concept means “if you see your brother or sister struggling, lend a hand to get that part going…Everybody pitches in, it’s not ‘your’ job or ‘my’ job.”
Over the years, the 2,000 sq. ft. dock area where George worked has grown to 120,000 sq. ft., and George can see the company doubling in size in the future. “There’s nothing we as a company cannot do,” he says.
Marie was born in the Philippines and grew up in Guam. One of seven children, she took care of her siblings while her parents were working. Today, she applies the same sense of responsibility and care to her work and her Approved ‘Ohana.
Marie began her career in Guam, working for Richard DeWitt at DeWitt Guam. After a few years, Mr. DeWitt invited her to an Approved Freight Forwarders manager’s meeting in Hawaii. Inspired by the meeting, she asked to be transferred to California, where she says she “dedicated her life to Approved,” and to raising her children. She says Randy Caravalho and Mr. DeWitt treated her like family from the beginning, making it an easy transition.
“…the Approved team embodies what it means to ‘Be ‘Ohana.’ Each individual is family,”
In 2017, Marie will celebrate 11 years at Approved. Like George, she was one of the first five Approved employees and helped the company grow through tireless effort and commitment. She says people always know where to find her – in the office! She works 10-12 hour days, often staying past 9:00 pm, and comes in on weekends to clean the office and do payroll.
Marie says the Approved team embodies what it means to “Be ‘Ohana.” “Each individual is family,” she says. Employees reach out and work together to achieve Approved’s goals and core values.
Marie strives to be flexible and responsive every day because “everything is a different experience.” Whatever a customer needs, Marie works hard to make it happen. She says that people who enjoy facing challenges and thinking on their feet would enjoy working at Approved.
Want to get to know even more about our team? Check out the Approved ‘Ohana in action at the TIA 2017 Capital Ideas Conference in Las Vegas. We had an amazing time meeting industry professionals from all over the world, learning about the future of logistics, and sharing our own ideas on how to expand to the Hawaii freight market.
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