To some, company loyalty seems like an oxymoron. Firms lay off people for short-term savings; employees jump at offers of higher pay from competitors.
That’s what makes Tony Garcia’s 33-year career at ESD both an outlier —and something to be applauded.
Garcia’s joining the company at all in 1984 was pure happenstance. Just out of high school, he planned to interview for a job elsewhere but had hurt his ankle. He showed up at the lead supervisor’s office to tell him he couldn’t make the interview. The supervisor happened to be talking on the phone with ESD’s Rose Marie Quilty about job openings.
“He said, “I think I’ve got a guy for you right here standing on crutches, and he could probably come out and see you in a couple of days,’ “ recalled Garcia. “I said, ‘No, I can come out tomorrow. I’ll make sure I get there.’ I came out and saw Rose, and she hired me. Sometimes you talk about fate, and that was kind of it.”
He started in the mail room, running prints and delivering packages to clients. Raj Gupta, son of ESD founder Hem Gupta, chatted often with Garcia. When Garcia showed an interest in engineering, Gupta suggested he attend community college, which he did while working fulltime.
“Raj ended up opening a spot for me, and I got to do some drafting,” Garcia said. “He got me out of the mailroom and gave me an opportunity that I probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. The son of the CEO is offering to help a guy who grew up on the Southeast Side of Chicago in a very poor neighborhood.”
A vice president at ESD today, where he’s a studio leader within the Workplace Solutions group, Garcia revels in the family atmosphere.
“It’s a place we can call our home away from home,” he said. “Our studio is like brothers and sisters – we’re arguing, but we’re looking out for each other.”
With the firm celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s great to see longtime employees such as Garcia who still embrace with passion the company’s values — respect everyone, work hard and play to win.
“I love coming here,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. Some days you don’t want to be here, but someone tells a joke or jokes around with you and you’re happy to be here."
“This was my first job, and I hope it will be my last job.”