‘QUEEN OF PARTS’ REFLECTS ON CAREER AS INDUSTRY PIONEER
Most people begin a career with one giant and sometimes unanswerable question: How long will I be here? For GROWMARK Tank and Truck Center’s (GTTC) Nancy Fatland, she never could have pictured this. “I never thought about it,” she said. “I just came to work with people I truly loved and cared about. I worked my hardest every day and tried to be a good example, person, and employee.” Fatland retired in September after 30 years of dedication at the GTTC in Yorkville, Illinois.
“I am the last one left!” she exclaimed, in a half-joking tone followed by her wonderful laugh that could bring any person within hearing distance to a smile. Fatland is the final original member of the GTTC team to retire.
She grew up on a farm that’s been in her family since the Civil War. Her brother now lives in the farm house, though she lives less than a half hour north of the family homestead. Fatland started her career working part time, balancing two other jobs. Now looking back, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I can’t explain it,” she said. “I love the farm and I love being a mom, but working for GROWMARK gave me something special. My boss, my coworkers, they really made you feel like you could do anything, truly anything.”
She earned a full-time position in January of 1989. “It was a good opportunity,” she said. “My youngest was starting kindergarten and I needed a job to be able to provide my children with insurance and benefits. Dwayne Skiye was the one [who] gave me the chance, and I am forever grateful to him for the opportunity.”
“I just came to work with people I truly loved and cared about.
I worked my hardest every day and tried to be a good example,
person, and employee.”
Fatland recalled many former co-workers, and the impact they had on her career and life as she occasionally released the smallest of smiles that let you know she was briefly revisiting a fond memory made over the past 30 years. “The people I worked with gave me a sense of worth - that I could do this,” she said.
She began her career as a receptionist. From there, she transitioned into safety, doing small-scale ordering, and sending and receiving parts. She eventually took over ordering of all parts, managed the inventory, and even worked quotes for the mechanics. The laundry list of roles makes you think there was nothing she hadn’t accomplished during her career with the company. “I haven’t been a mechanic,” she said laughing.
As she reflected on her time, there isn’t one thing that she would have changed. “I was one of the first women in roles like these within my industry, and some vendors wouldn’t even address me because I was a girl, and girls just didn’t have jobs like these,” she recalled. “There was one vendor in particular who time-after-time would never address me or deal with me. My boss was the best! He would say if you won’t talk to Nancy, then you won’t get any business. That’s her job for a reason.” As soon as the words left her mouth she beamed, still feeling the support from her former co-workers to this day. “He (the vendor) finally came around,” she added.
Times changed. Or maybe, Nancy helped change the times.
“It’s funny because some years later a man called asking specifically for me,” she said. “He wanted to talk to Nancy, ‘the queen of parts,’ the only person who would know how to get all the parts he needed.” Nancy used those moments to better her experience, strength, and outlook at her job for the rest of her career and personal life. But that was just one moment in a career of triumphs. “I am really good with numbers. I can memorize number chains extremely well, and it’s a good thing around here.” Nancy walked back to her office where she recalled starting with four inventory items, and how there are now over 10,000. Strength in numbers carries a completely different meaning to her.
“This job made me proud because I was able to show my children that you can really do anything you wanted, even if they had the odds stacked against them,” she said. “They could do anything they wanted if they worked hard for it.” Walking around the facility, her love for GROWMARK was evident. She stopped and looked at one of the trucks stating with pride, “this is one of ours.” Then after a short pause, in a calm voice, “queen of parts doesn’t sound too bad, huh?”