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Southwest: A Family Tradition

millie-richter-
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At Southwest, we are known for referring to our Coworkers as Family and for treating each other with the same care and respect you would show your family members at home.  It’s part of what makes Southwest a great place to work and an airline our Customers love to fly.  For some Southwest Employees, Family is not just a figure of speech.  It may surprise you to learn that Southwest is not afraid to hire someone’s brother, sister, aunt, uncle —it’s yet another unique aspect of our airline.  Here are a few families who have made working for Southwest a family tradition. The Kim and Fernando Ramirez Family Ground Ops Senior Manager of Administration Kim Ramirez joined Southwest in 1986, followed by her husband, Dallas Provisioning Agent Fernando in 1989.  After growing up as Southwest kids, Kim and Fernando’s three children also became part of the Southwest Family.  Marketing Assistant Manager Kristina Snyder began her Southwest career in 2006, followed by her brothers, Flight Operations Scheduling Analyst Jeremy in 2010 and Revenue Management Market Strategy Analyst Robbie in 2013.  Later in 2013, their cousin, Caroline Snavely, joined Southwest as a Cargo Marketing Communication Specialist.
Jeremy, Caroline, Kristina, Fernando, Kim, and Robert
Jeremy, Caroline, Kristina, Fernando, Kim, and Robert
“Most people are surprised when they find out we all work here—but why wouldn’t they want to work here?  It’s a great Company!  Some people probably think we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket, but we feel fortunate to all have great jobs.  We feel very secure.”—Kim  “At one point in our careers, my wife and I both worked at the Dallas Station.  I worked on the Ramp and she was in Customer Service, but we didn’t see each other very much.  Many times we were working opposite shifts.  After working there for several years, we were at the wedding of one of our Coworkers.  One of my friends came up to me and said, ‘I didn’t know you were dating that girl.’  I said ‘Dating? That’s my wife!’”—Fernando “I’ve always wanted to work at Southwest. I feel like I pretty much grew up at Dallas Love Field because we were there so often!  When we were young, my parents worked opposite schedules so that one of them could always be home with us.  We’d go up to the airport so they could ‘trade off,’ as one of them got off their shift to take us home and the other was beginning their shift.  I have great memories of Jeremy and me playing and running around the older section of Love Field.  It’s kind of interesting that my mom and I started almost exactly 20 years apart (she started in August 1986 and I started in September 2006), AND our Employee Numbers are almost the same.  Very strange!”— Kristina “As a kid, I thought it was normal for everybody to like their jobs and Company the way my parents did.  When I got older, I learned that was not the case.  I thought it was really cool that my parents always came home with funny work stories and had developed so many great friendships over the years with Coworkers.   After working for companies that didn’t have the culture, reputation, benefits, and bright future like Southwest, I finally realized why my parents chose the career path they did, and I wanted the same.”—Jeremy “My first day as an Intern, I had no idea that my aunt and I were going to be working in the same department. So, when I met my Manager after orientation and Kim was with her I was so surprised! Come to find out that Kim’s office is about 20 feet from my cube. Now, I get to see her all the time!”—Caroline “While I’m still new and don’t have a ton of funny stories, I do have one about Caroline.  One day I was walking across the street to the DART station just as Caroline was driving by with her Coworker.  Before she realized it was me, she had told her Coworker that I was ‘hot’ out loud.”—Robert “Just for the record, Robbie’s story is not completely true.  The real reason I didn’t recognize him that day was because I had forgotten my glasses.”—Caroline    The Latronica Family Chicago-Midway GSE Technician/Ground Equipment Mechanic Gary Latronica started at Southwest in 2005, and his son Nick joined him in 2007 as a Chicago-Midway Ramp Agent. Now a Ramp Supervisor, Nick still enjoys working alongside his dad.
Gary  and Nick Latronica
Gary and Nick Latronica
“Nick and I used to work quite a few years together at my previous job in a family business.  I would bring him with me to work when he was only about five years old, so he grew up learning good work ethics.  Now my current shift position as a GSE Tech at Chicago has me flying out to other cities in the Chicago Region every day to repair and/or maintain all of our equipment in those cities, and Nick works on the Chicago ramp.  There are times when we contact each other to work together to resolve issues that he or I may have regarding flights, shipments, one of us needing help, etc.   It's also fun talking to other Southwest Employees who may not know that we are related, and then are happily surprised to find out that we are.  However, I think we probably see each other more often when volunteering for different Company-related events such as WWII veteran Honor Flights that are organized at Midway.”—Gary “I graduated from Illinois State University in December 2005 with a degree in Criminal Justice, and began to pursue a career as a Chicago Police Officer.  I passed all the tests to become an officer and was put on their waiting list.  While I was waiting, my dad told me that Southwest was hiring Ramp Agents at Midway, and that I should apply, because the wait for the CPD position might take years.  I applied, was hired as a Ramp Agent, and soon became a Ramp Supervisor.  After a while, they called me for the CPD position, but I passed on it because I was enjoying working at Southwest so much!”—Nick The Pyles/O’Teter Family Ben Pyles joined the Southwest Family in 2001 as a Ramp Agent and eventually moved to HDQ as a Ground Ops Analyst. Executive Assistant Chelsea O’Teter started in Customer Relations in 2009, and her sister Mallory joined as a Ground Operations Culture Ambassador in 2010.  Ben and Mallory met when she helped choreograph the Ground Ops Halloween skit in 2012, as he was the funny guy who danced like a maniac and made her me laugh.  They married a year later.
Chelsea, Mallory, and Ben
Chelsea, Mallory, and Ben
“From the time I was a senior in high school my plan was to work at Walt Disney World, although I had a few interesting Southwest-related interactions during college.   During my senior year of college I toured Southwest Headquarters with one of my business classes.  At that time I already had a job lined up with Disney after graduation, but I told someone that if I ever didn’t work at Disney that I think I’d like to work at Southwest.  Two-and-a-half years later I was ready to move back to Texas and tried to find a job in the jobless market of 2009, and I applied for a Customer Relations position that was posted for less than a day.  I didn’t hear anything for a while and really forgot I had even applied; however, I was so certain that this was the right time to move, even without having a job, that I gave a month notice with Disney and made plans to move.  The week that I moved I got an interview for the CR position on Tuesday, drove from Orlando to Dallas on Friday, and was offered the position on Monday!”—Chelsea “Since we are no longer roommates, it's so nice to be able to catch up with Chelsea at work. Sometimes I even sit in her lap and have 'sister moments.'  But shhh, don't tell anyone how much we like each other. Working with Ben is super FUN too, because we have a great time getting involved with the Southwest Culture together, and also because no matter how hard the day might have been, as we walk to our car at the end of it, we get to hold hands—and that's just nice.”—Mallory “I love working with Mallory and Chelsea!  It’s great to be able to pop right over and kiss your wife on the cheek and bug your sister-in-law.”—Ben Dee Sleight & Dory Smith Dee started at Southwest as a Fort Lauderdale Customer Service Agent in 2010, and immediately fell in LUV with the Company.  She was so happy, that she kept talking to her sister Dory about moving to South Florida and joining the Southwest Family too.  Dory did just that and became a Fort Lauderdale Customer Service Agent in 2012. Dee and Dory“It is so nice to work together!  We are able to help each other out: I babysit Dory’s dog when I’m at work, and Dory will pick up some of my shifts so that I can spend more time with my family.” –Dee “It is funny to us that people call us each other’s names, AND we respond! Also we compete against each other for Customer Commendations—our goal is to be in the top 10 together. Dee's been winning so far, but the competition continues!” –Dory