From Veteran To Journey-Level Worker, Frank Boss Has Been the Right Choice for the Port of Olympia

Frank Boss helps take care of the stormwater treatment facility located on the Port's marine terminal. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Life is a journey. Sometimes it takes us around the globe by land, air, and sea. Our careers, addresses, and employers may follow a winding path but there’s joy in that journey. For the Port of Olympia’s Frank Boss, his journey has been a wild ride full of unexpected twists and turns. Boss has risen to the rank of Journey-Level Worker through hard work, a willingness to do whatever it takes, and the biggest smile in town.

Frank’s Army batallion moved their Strykers through the Port of Olympia upon return from Iraq in late 2005…nearly 10 years before he joined the Port’s team. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Boss left for Army basic training in April 2002 and was one of the first teams assigned to their Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles. He was stationed at what was then Fort Lewis in January 2003 and was sent to Iraq in the fall of 2004 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. On returning home in November 2005—after a delay of several weeks due to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina—Boss and his Stryker actually passed through the Port of Olympia in transit.

Though a native of Florida, Boss settled in the Pacific Northwest at the end of his service term. The Army paid for his education and he attended Saint Martin’s University in Lacey to become a teacher. With a degree focused on music and secondary education, Boss taught music locally in North Thurston and Clover Park public schools.

Having grown up in and around workshops, Boss decided to apply for a summer internship at the Port. That position included weed-eating and pressure washing. When a full-time position became available, Frank submitted his application.

Retired Marine Terminal Foreman and Facility Security Officer, Mike Crawford made the final decision to hire Frank, “With his willingness to learn and his great personality, I knew he would be a perfect fit for the Marine Terminal Maintenance department.”

Frank Boss (seated front left) with the Port’s Marine Terminal Maintenance Team. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Frank was hired as a full-time employee in March of 2013. Upon taking the full-time position, Frank was still committed to a teaching contract, juggling a full-time Port position, and being a long-term substitute music teacher from March through June. While he received a full-time position in 2013, Frank has been seen as a valued team member since his internship in June of 2012.

Retired Marine Terminal Director, Jim Amador presented Frank with the opportunity for the apprenticeship. “I saw an opportunity to give a qualified soldier a chance. Frank proved that we made the right choice.”

Boss—who’d never had formal training in this new field—jumped at the chance for the apprenticeship. It was a four-year mentored program, equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, which he completed after hours of hard work in September 2020.

In September 2020, Frank Boss graduated as Journey Level Worker. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Kim Kawada, the Port’s Marine Terminal Business Development Coordinator, explains the rigorous training involved. The Maintenance Technical program required a minimum of “8,000 hours for on the job training. Frank worked 8,501 hours during the four years side-by-side with a journey-level worker. His classroom work was on his own time. He took 155 classes/tests and spent 1,048.5 hours on classroom training. Boss also took Port training such as CPR, First Aid, confined space, hazwoper, security, stormwater, and more. Examples of correspondence classes that he took include math, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, welding, and water treatment plant operations.”

But more than these achievements, Port staff simply enjoy working with Boss and have since day one. “Not only is Frank a veteran who has served our country well, but he also has one of the best personalities,” says Communications, Marketing, and Outreach Manager Jennie Foglia-Jones. “He is funny, always smiling, laughing, and overall approaches everything he does with a great personality. We are lucky to have him on our staff.”

Frank Boss speaks with high school students from Yelm High School during their career day. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Len Faucher, marine terminal director, agrees. “Frank truly values learning as demonstrated by his time in the military and education at St. Martin’s,” says Faucher. “He has applied that value to his pursuits at the marine terminal and achievement of journey-level worker status. As his department head, it is great to see this value take action through his positive approach to learning from the highly experienced team around him and his desire to constantly get better. I can imagine Frank becoming the next generation’s mentor at the Marine Terminal.”

When not working tirelessly behind the scenes at the Port, Boss’s life has come full circle. He frequently visits local schools and classrooms to speak about the many career paths, choices, and skills available in the trades. Outside of work, when COVID-19 restrictions didn’t keep us all indoors, he rocked out with a local band.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “Life is a journey, not a destination.” For people like Frank Boss, that journey went around the world and included everything from music to military service, teaching children to becoming a lifelong student himself. We can’t always plan for the future but we sure can enjoy the ride, be it in a Stryker, or on a marine terminal. Thanks to employers like the Port of Olympia and their commitment to making our region a better, stronger place, we know one thing makes us great: It’s the people.

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