Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies.
Introducing Don Werhonig, Instructor/HSSE Manager at Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Name: Don Werhonig
Company: Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center
Title: Instructor/HSSE Manager
On the Job Since: 2013
Superpower: Ability to make complex information understandable to all
Hometown: Harlowton, MT
Favorite Movie: Megamind
Bucket List Destination: Thailand
For Fun: Lots of outdoor stuff and Taekwondo with my kids
How and when did you start working for Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center? Have you worked for or done projects with other Lynden companies?
I went to work for Alaska West Express in 2013. Before that, I did some emergency response work and training instruction for the company as a contractor. As for how, I had worked with employees of Alaska West starting in 2001, which turned into lifelong friendships. I had an understanding of Lynden and the way they treat their employees and their operating philosophy, so I jumped at the chance to come to work for AWE.
What is a typical day like for you?
My days vary. If I am teaching a class, it is pretty much in the classroom or out on the training ground for the day. If I am not training, I am answering questions for AWE, developing training, or working on AWE programs. Basically, at my workstation unless I can escape and get outside.
What has been most challenging in your career?
Maintaining the status of an expert of subject matter in everything we do. I have to know Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plus all the emergency response stuff like firefighting, rescue, medical, and hazmat response. It is hard sometimes to keep up with changing regulations and standards.
What are you most proud of in your career?
This is an easy question to answer. I am proud of all the people I have offered professional development to. I understand that professionally developing our work force and clients is a great responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. But knowing I can develop people to make better decisions or respond to bad situations is incredibly satisfying. The goal would be to develop someone’s skills and knowledge until they are better than I am.
Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I grew up on a ranch in Montana. With a saddle horse and a dirt bike, I didn’t spend much time at home. I eventually joined the Army to get out of Montana and start my own life. This also probably kept me from going to jail as I was a “work hard, play even harder” ranch kid and made some not so great decisions in my youth.
What was your first job?
My first real job was changing irrigation pipe twice a day for a neighboring rancher. I worked about four hours each pipe change and made a whopping $0.08 per pipe I moved, for a grand total of about $33 a day.
What would surprise most people about you?
That I am very compassionate and a very nice person with a giant bleeding heart. I am very outgoing but with a very serious look on my face all the time, so people are probably surprised to find out who I really am.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Outdoor activities when the Alaska winter life is not working me to death. My kids and I love shooting, hunting, and camping. In the winter our primary activity is a martial arts class that we have been doing for the last few months.
What do you like best about your job?
I like working with our customers to see how they operate in different industries and the challenges they face.