Archive for August, 2009

Interview with Roy Wolford – worked for Northrop for 61 years

August 31, 2009
Roy Wolford w RJ

Roy Wolford with Director RJ McHatton

It was a warm day in Southern California.  The news had headlines about the terrible fires all across the hilltops of the Ranchos Palos Verdes area where I was headed and I didn’t know what to expect.  Luckily the fires had been mostly put out and the actual fires were about two miles over the hill from where I was going.  I was there to interview Roy Wolford, the official photographer for Northrop during those incredible test pilot years when Johnny Myers was risking his life on first flights.  Roy had worked over 60 years for Northrop.  Hard to believe these days that anyone could work one place for so long.  Over the years Roy had worn many hats in many departments.  He was the first photographer for Jack Northrop when he was pioneering the Black Widow and Flying Wing technologies.  Eventually Roy led a whole department of photographers with high tech still and motion picture cameras.  We talked for a long time about the different kinds of cameras and equipment he used to capture the test flights.  Then we talked about John Myers.  Roy was a good friend with John Myers since Myers first day with Northrop.  Roy talked about the character, will, and integrity of John Myers.  He talked about the leadership skills John had when he eventually became the VP of Northrop.  Then we talked about the crash.  Roy was there that day that John Myers had a terrible crash that nearly killed him.  Roy told me about how he ran up to the wreckage and he screamed to John several times, only to see Myers totally quiet.  Roy feared the worst but he kept screaming to John and finally he saw John’s eye twitch some movement and Roy realized John was alive.  This was a very emotional moment of the interview.  Roy is a great guy.  He talked about how he first learned to fly and how much he loved aviation.  Roy showed me several books on Northrop history and a lot of the photos from the test pilot days.  In one book he showed me tons of photos of John Myers and the test pilots.  All the photos had a credit to Roy Wolford.  In one photo it showed several of the pilots all together with Roy in his flight suit.  Roy flew in the planes being tested and outside the planes and in front of the planes and behind the planes.  Roy’s photos were a tremendous help to the engineers working to test these aircraft.   In the early days, the test pilots would have a small notebooks taped to their legs so they could make notes during a flight.  Roy had the idea that photos would really help the engineers learn what really was happening during those flights.  He was right.  Thanks to Roy we have lots of photos of those early test flights and early planes.  Roy has donated all of his photos and materials to several museums in the area.  I am hoping to get access to them there and also through Northrop, who has kindly donated access to their archives for this project.  Roy and I hit it off.  I enjoyed talking to Roy very much.  He lived during some of the most fantastic times in Aviation history and he was right there.  He talked about flying with John Myers in the P61 and about his meeting Howard Hughes.  Roy’s wife of over 59 years died a few years ago and now Roy lives in a nice assisted living place.  But I don’t think he’s  ready for much assistance yet.  We went out to lunch and Roy showed me where the Western Aviation Museum is located at Torrance.  Roy talked about how at the age of 94 he still feels strong and wants to keep active.  At his apartment he showed me boxes where he has over 30,000 slides.  Through his work at Northrop he was able to travel all around the world, including time during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.  All the time, in every continent of the world, Roy Wolford took photos.  I kept asking him how he could hand hold a camera and get perfect focus on those test flights.  He said he had a steady hand and good eyes.  As a lover of photography myself, I was in awe of the incredible skills of Roy Wolford.  Meeting him was a true joy.

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Tad Devine Interview

August 31, 2009

 

Director RJ McHatton with Tad Devine

Director RJ McHatton with Tad Devine

It was a warm and beautiful drive down to Corona Del Mar.  I was there to interview Tad Devine for my documentary “The Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.”  Tad is a great guy.  He is the oldest son of the famous actor Andy Devine and he knew Johnny Myers ever since he was a little kid.  I have always been a fan of Andy Devine.  He was in my favorite movie of all time, the John Ford and John Wayne film “Stagecoach.”  Andy Devine had worked in Hollywood since the silent days, had tremendous success both in the movies and on television.  He had a very successful television show for many years.  Tad did a fantastic job in the interview.  He told me some fantastic stories about his family history, how his mother’s family raised horses and his father’s family ran a hotel in Kingman, Arizona for many years.  He talked about how his father came to Hollywood and got into the movies because of his football playing.  Tad told me how his father got that unique voice that became his trademark.  Then we talked about Johnny Myers.  Tad had met Johnny Myers when he was very young.  John Myers was one of the world’s first entertainment attorneys and had worked with many of the most famous movie stars in the 30s, including Bing Crosby and Andy Devine.  Over the years John Myers became more famous as a flyer and a test pilot.  But he kept in touch with his friends, including Tad Devine.  Tad talked about how their friendship endured all the way until Johnny died in his 90s.  I asked Tad if he could tell me stories of John Wayne, since John Wayne was always my number one hero.  Tad told me some great stories about John Wayne and his memories of his dad.  I could tell that Tad was very close to his father.  I am very grateful that Tad took the time to let me interview him for my movie about Johnny Myers.  It was a great experience.

Edgar Martinez & Brian Haner interview Branded Solutions

August 16, 2009
Director RJ McHatton with Brian Haner & Edgar Martinez

Director RJ McHatton with Brian Haner & Edgar Martinez

I drove over to Kirkland to interview the famous baseball player Edgar Martinez and his business partner Brian Haner.  I was interviewing them for the Puget Sound Business Journal because Edgar and Brian’s businesses were recognized for the annual “Best Workplace in Washington” award.  They don’t give out Academy Awards to business owners, but the “Best Workplace” award is about as great an honor that any business leader could strive for.   We met with Brian and Edgar in their new office.  They are such winners.  Edgar Martinez had proven himself with his incredible Major League Baseball career that earned him a place in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame and a reputation as a kind humanitarian.  Brian Haner was immediately evident to be one of the most positive and inspiring leaders I have ever met.  During our interview Edgar and Brian talked about their belief in Values, Character, and living these concepts every day.  They actually take their core values very seriously.  Branded Solutions and Image Source are one large team dedicated to helping others.  Brian and Edgar and their team have taken a lot of time and effort to analyze and defining the Culture they want in their business.  Edgar Martinez has built a reputation of caring about people and always taking the time to talk and listen with people one on one. Brian has built a reputation as a great leader and a big, positive thinker.  Brian and Edgar make a great team because they are totally focused on those Core Values and keeping their Corporate Culture alive everyday.  Thanks Brian and Edgar for the interview.  I learned a lot.

Charlie Liekweg interview AAA Washington

August 16, 2009
Charlie Liekweg with Director RJ McHatton

Charlie Liekweg with Director RJ McHatton

 I knew I would like Charlie Liekweg immediately when I saw the giant photos of Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant on the wall of his office.  I had recently returned from a trip to Gettysburg so the Civil War stories were still fresh in my memory.  We were there to interview Charlie Liekweg for the Puget Sound Business Journal “Best Workplaces” Award.  His company, AAA of Washington had reached the finalist stage.  Several of the AAA employees came up to me to tell me how much they loved working at AAA.  They were amazing.  I met Charlie in his office at the Bellevue headquarters.  Charlie told me that he really doesn’t use his office that much because he is usually out in the field visiting all of his offices.  We sat down and talked about his philosophy of management, the company culture, the core values of his team, and the specific things his organization does to get such a happy workplace recognition.  I was very impressed with Charlie and his understanding of his employees.  He talked a lot about the character and integrity of his team.  He talked about they proved themselves so many times, like during the heavy snows last Christmas and during the heatwave this summer.  He said his team always surprises him with positive surprises.  Charlie talked about how his team started a competition to be more healthy and how proud he was that they have accomplished so much in a short time.  He said that his company has actually earned reduction in health costs because the team became more healthy.  I was deeply moved by meeting Charlie Liekweg.   He is a great leader and the AAA Washington team is definitely one of the most positive, enthusiastic, sincere teams I have ever seen.

Joan Cole Duffell interview Committee for Children

August 16, 2009
Duffell photo

Joan Cole Duffell with Director RJ McHatton

 It was a very warm day.   I was visiting the Committee for Children headquarters in downtown Seattle to interview their CEO, Joan Cole Duffell, for the Puget Sound Business Journal video.  Committee for Children was a finalist for the annual “Best Workplaces of Washington” award in the Non-Profit Category.  I was immediately impressed with Joan.  She was so passionate about the mission and the core values of their organization.  Committee for Children has some incredible numbers.  They have been around since the 1970s.  There are over 25,000 schools in over 25 countries that are using their curriculum.  They create curriculum that helps kids deal with issues like sexual abuse, poverty, learning disabilities, and bullying.  Joan talked about how her team works hard to be nice to each other.  She said that they use the techniques in their curriculum as a baseline example to help nurture a positive best workplace.  That day they were having a pot luck lunch where each person was to bring a meal indicative of their heritage.  Italians brought Italian food, French people brought French food, Hispanics, Asians, and Irish brought food from their culture, too.   I was moved by my interview with Joan.  I think I am very lucky to be introduced to such great organizations like the Committee for Children.  I think everyone should learn more about their vision and mission.  To learn more go to www.cfchildren.org 

 

Brad Jackson, CEO of Two Degrees

August 16, 2009
Brad Jackson with Director RJ McHatton

Brad Jackson with Director RJ McHatton

I drove downtown Seattle to interview Brad Jackson of Two Degrees for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about the “Best Workplaces in Washington.”  Two Degrees was a finalist for the award this year.  Two Degrees is located in the Exchange Building where once there was the Pacific Northwest Stock Exchange.  The Exchange Building is a 22 story concrete building in an Art Deco style.  According to Wikipedia it was once the second tallest concrete building in the United States.  It reminds me of the tall buildings they used in the old Dragnet series or black and white Noir films showing the Courthouses of LA.  I went up the elevator to the Two Degrees offices and was immediately surprised by the hustle and bustle.  I met with Brad Jackson.  He is someone you will never forget.  He and I sat down in a small office and I started recording the interview.  We talked about his background and the history of the company.  Brad once worked with Price Waterhouse and has a strong background in accounting.  He said that he found that his strengths pulled him more into relationships and consulting.  Brad talked about the special culture they have at Two Degrees.  He said everything was about the Culture and nurturing the culture.  He said that everyone is focused on the clients and how they can help their clients get better.  Brad is almost hypnotic in his focused passion and pride about his team.  He impressed me as someone who looks at life and situations from 30,000 feet, looking down and trying to figure out ways to make everything better.  Brad talked about how his company had become one of the fastest growing companies in America.  He talked about how he set incredible personal and team goals and how they achieved them every time.  Brad talked at length about how important his team and the positive creative workplace environment was to the success of the organization.  Brad talked about the Core Values of his team.  He talked about their vision for the future.  He talked about some of the unique and creative ways they have nurtured their culture.  He told about lavish annual company retreats and a special inhouse film festival where employees went out and made their own films for their internal film festival, all in the name of creative team building.  I feel very lucky to have been exposed to Brad and his team.  They have sparked many new ideas and inspiration on how I can be a better leader for my team.  Thanks Brad.

Howard Chermak interview Chermak Construction

August 16, 2009
Howard Chermak with Director RJ McHatton

Howard Chermak with Director RJ McHatton

 Howard Chermak is a nice guy.  Howard is the founder and CEO of Chermak Construction.  They specialize in remodeling.  I was there to interview Howard for the Puget Sound Business Journal video we are making about the “Best Workplaces” in Washington award.  I was very impressed with Howard and his philosophies of running a successful business.  Howard is always thinking about the future.  Many years ago he started a Vision Team to help plan the future of the company.  He anticipated the slow times of the recession so he worked closely with his team to not have to lay people off.  Howard talked about how he started the company with just one employee, himself, and how its grown over the years.  He talked about the core values and the importance of working closely with the community.  He talked about being a member of the Chamber and the Rotary and other service groups.  Howard is a nice man and he has built a nice company with a fine reputation.

Patrick Tessier Interview Northwest Laboratories

August 16, 2009
Director RJ McHatton with Patrick Tessier
Director RJ McHatton with Patrick Tessier

Patrick Tessier is an interesting man.  I drove over to Bellevue to interview Patrick Tessier, CEO of Northwest Laboratories, for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about the “Best Workplaces” in Washington.  Patrick told me how he was educated in engineering and had worked in the paper box industry for almost twenty years.  Then when his 40th birthday was approaching, he decided to completely change his life and find a new business, a new industry, to focus his next chapter of life on.  He chose the Dental reconstruction business.  Today his company Northwest Laboratories is one of the fastest growing companies in America.  We talked about his secret to success and he said it was his team.  He talked about the many things they do to keep the positive culture alive and he said his secret weapon was putting in a kitchen and having real home cooked lunches everyday.  He said that one of his team members is a world class cook and that nothing keeps the culture alive like a great lunch.  Patrick Tessier has an awesome attitude.  I talked with several members of his team and they were so enthusiastic!  I think Patrick Tessier is a great leader.  We talked about the core values and character of his organization.  His eyes teared up with pride.

Marty Schillaci interview — The Resource Group

August 16, 2009
Marty Schillaci and The Resource Group with Director RJ McHatton
Marty Schillaci and The Resource Group with Director RJ McHatton

I drove over to Renton to interview Marty Schillaci  for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s video for the “Best Workplaces” Award.  Marty is the CEO of The Resource Group (TRG).  As we entered their office we were greeted by a team of very enthusiastic people with giant smiles on their faces.  We met Marty and he led us to a really nice conference room with a very unusual conference table.  It was like a real tree laying sideways.  Actually was part of a tree and it was quite impressive.  We talked about the table for a while and then I set up my camera and lights and sound equipment for the interview.  Marty Schillaci is a great leader.  He talked about how he started the company over twenty years ago by helping companies understand and use their database softwares.  Over the years TRG has become one of the most successful and enduring partners with Microsoft.  Marty talked about the unique culture that his team has created.  He talked about the very important core values that have always worked for him.  He talked about the character of his team in good times and bad times.  He talked about the importance of taking care of your employees and your clients.  Years ago Marty worked for Boeing and he talked about how proud he is of the TRG success story. He started the company in his living room and now he has a lot of employees.  Marty expressed the importance of education and learning.  He said you always have to be learning to keep up with the fast pace of today’s life.  I really enjoyed my interview with Marty and I learned a lot! 

Melanie Dressel interview – Columbia Banking System

August 16, 2009
RJ with Melanie Dressel of Columbia Banking System

RJ with Melanie Dressel of Columbia Banking System

I drove down to Tacoma to meet the CEO of Columbia Banking Systems, Melanie Dressel, for a video we were making for the Puget Sound Business Journal.  Columbia Banking was a finalist for the “Best Workplace” award.    Melanie did a great interview.  She talked about the reasons her company has been successful in such a challenging business climate.  She said that the culture of the organization and the focus on the values of customer service and treating people right were paying off.  She said that her philosophy is to hire good people and you will succeed.  She said that every employee goes through a boot camp to make sure everyone understands the culture and values.  Melanie proved to be a very strong leader and I learned a lot from our interview.  Thanks, Melanie!