This employee spotlight deals, not with a new Alpine Bearing team member, but one of the oldest. October of 2018 will mark Derek Anderson’s 20th anniversary at Alpine Bearing. Twenty years ago, Derek answered an ad in the Boston Globe and interviewed with Alpine’s founder, Robert Levin. His son and Alpine’s president, Jim Levin, hired Derek and he’s been working at the Allston bearing distributor ever since.
“When I was hired, I didn’t know a bearing from a donut,” says Derek. “I started in the warehouse with Don, our QC Manager, by sorting bearings and gathering them for orders. I noticed which companies ordered what and asked lots of questions. I began to learn about the applications of the different types of bearings and why each company needed them. It was a great way to learn the business.”
Derek says he was surprised, at first, at the sheer number of applications there are for ball bearings. Spurred on by curiosity and his desire to learn all he could about the industry, Derek says he discovers new applications and new businesses that use bearings daily. “That keeps it fresh,” he says. “I’m never bored. There’s always something new.”
There’s also always something to talk about with his coworkers. “Our company is different. I see the owner every day. I see my sales manager every day. We sit in the same office and talk about how the Red Sox are doing or my daughter’s softball game or a movie someone saw last night, then we negotiate a big order with a customer. It’s an ideal working environment.”
That convivial atmosphere makes time away from home bearable. Derek credits his wife, Kara, an HR professional, with keeping him and their two daughters, Ashley (10) and Hailey (4) organized. The family-friendly dynamic at Alpine helps too. “I’m fortunate Jim lets us work flexible hours. I coach my daughter’s softball and basketball teams and that wouldn’t be possible in some companies. I can even hit a Celtics game from time to time.”
Derek values the depth of knowledge at Alpine. “Sometimes, customers know exactly what they want, but a lot of times, we have to do a sort of triage. We ask them a bunch of questions about their industry and equipment to figure out what bearings suit their needs. I’ve gotten good at it, but I know that if I need more information, I’m in a room full of resources. Between Jim and J.C., my sales manager, I’m covered.”
Derek credits the positive work environment, great relationships with his bosses and coworkers, and the variety in his workday with his longevity at Alpine Bearing. He also likes the quick turnaround. “I like knowing Jim has the shelves stocked so we can get a bearing out fast and keep a line or a robotic arm moving. It keeps customers coming back.”
It’s also kept Derek coming back—for nearly twenty years.