Employee Spotlight – JIM RHODES
Many of PESCO’s employees have been with the family-owned business for decades. But in May of this year, one of them will have worked at the business for 43 years. Not surprisingly, Jim Rhodes, Vice President of Engineering, Research and Development, and Quality Management, along with his brother, PESCO’s President, Kyle Rhodes, own the honor of long-time employment at the company. “Officially, Shane Galloway has the longest tenure.” Jim said. “He went to work for us a couple of months before I graduated from college. Unofficially, Kyle and I are tied with over 50 years each. Wow.”
When Jim and Kyle’s dad, Ed, lost his job at the age of 49, Ed and Mary Lou, Jim and Kyle’s mom, decided they would go into a business of their own. “I had a job whether I wanted it or not,” Jim said with a smile.
When Jim graduated from college in 1978, he joined the company full time, although he spent many more years working at the business while in high school. In addition to his engineering expertise to the company, Jim also brings a passion for creating patents.
“Coming up with a patentable idea is easy,” Jim said. “PESCO is known as a problem solver. When a customer has a need, I can usually figure out a way to solve the problem. Patenting a design isn’t about vanity or ego. It’s about seeing a need and, if we have the ability to solve it, let’s do it.”
The opportunities of having a family-owned business are many, Jim said. “Every day I come here, I find a proud moment,” he said. “We have the ability to employ people and to focus on making enough money to stay in business and to serve our community. I am proud I am able to work side by side with my brother. We’re a good team and he was my best friend growing up and he still is.”
Kyle echoed Jim’s sentiments. “Not only are Jim and I brothers, but also best friends. We’ve always worked well together, complimenting each other’s gifts. With Jim’s engineering brilliance, PESCO has excelled in equipment quality and design.”
In spite of all he knows and has accomplished, Jim believes there is always more to learn – about the business and life.
“We surround ourselves with good people,” he said. “A career is nothing if you’re not helping people.”
Jim is a very low-key guy and his close friend and PESCO’s Employee Success Manager, Craig Curry, said “What others don’t often see is the serving side of Jim. His brain is impossible to keep up with, but his willingness to help, often behind the scenes, is built into his DNA. I saw it in his church work. Kathy and I have been a recipient of it. There’s a soft heart keeping that brain going!”
In spite of putting in countless hours at PESCO, Jim has other passions he enjoys in his spare time. A talented photographer, Jim enjoys taking the time to get the perfect photo. “Photography is a ministry for me,” he said.
He also enjoys playing golf, tying flies to use when he fly fishes, and loves to do landscaping. “I find out a way to do everything I want to do,” when he’s out of the office, Jim admitted.
Jim is also passionate about climate change, the continuing need and demand for fossil fuels. “I research about climate change and decide what is fact and what is fiction.” He said. “As an engineer with a science background, I want to figure it out. I’m also passionate about seeking out the truth and I like to be right about fossil fuels. I am a truth seeker.”
Jim’s talents go beyond the office, the rivers, the golf course, and the landscape, however. He is a trumpet player for Celebration Brass, a quintet based out of First Presbyterian Church, and for the Trumpet Geezers, a group of over 50-year olds who play whenever they can and wherever they’re invited. “I was an accomplished trumpet player in high school,” said Jim, “but I put my trumpet away for 30 years. Then I decided to play again, and Mick Hesse (a noted and respected musician) gave me lessons.”
Jim also has sung in church choirs since 7th grade and has been a bass soloist with the San Juan Symphony Chorus.
When Jim talks about his business and his hobbies, he is animated and enjoys sharing his passions. However, when he talks about his most important best friend, the softer side of him emerges.
“My wife (Arna) and I like to hike and just generally be outdoors. She’s a great cook,” Jim said. “I married my best friend.”
It was Arna, a retired RN, and another of Jim’s good friends, Dr. Ron Calcote, who cared for Jim when he tested positive for COVID. “They got me through it,” Jim said with emotion. He recovered from a tough battle with the virus and credits Arna and Dr. Calcote for their care and support.
With a best friend who is his wife, and another best friend who is his brother, Jim said the future of PESCO includes providing jobs for employees who have become family. “We will stay in business, provide those jobs, and focus on diversification. “ With PESCO’s emphasis on family values with its employees and the customers it serves – and with the commitment of the Rhodes family to do what is best for those employees and its customers – the company will always focus on building better lives and communities. And there’s a good chance that Jim will be there, camera in hand, to document it!
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