In 2015, two Caterpillar employees marked career milestones in two very different journeys. Their stories illustrate the satisfaction that comes at the end of a long career and the exhilaration that comes from being given the first chance to give your all.
In early 2015, Ed Flesburg retired after 60 satisfying years of service with Caterpillar. As a 6 Sigma Black Belt within the Global Supply Network Division (GSND), and over the course of his notable career, Ed achieved much success and delivered many outstanding results for the company.
Ed began his career in 1955, as a chip wheeler in East Peoria, Illinois. After returning from deployment to Korea, he spent the next 51 years in many different roles with the company, from janitor to drafting, designing and engineering.
Throughout his tenure, Ed achieved four company patents to his name, developed 14 major design changes, resolved 11 major design problems and generated more than $55 million in cost reductions. In addition, he pioneered the development of the heat transfer coolant category, where his experience and expertise was priceless.
Ed’s manager, James Dryden, sums up Ed’s outstanding tenure, “Famous basketball coach John Wooden once said ‘Who can ask more of a man than giving all within his span? Giving all, it seems to me, is not so far from victory.’ I cannot think of a better quote to describe Ed’s work ethic and outstanding accomplishments to make Caterpillar the successful company it is today.”
As Ed was accepting well-wishes for the future from his grateful team, thousands of miles away 19-year-old Farooq Kahn was looking forward to the future for the first time in a long time. Farooq is training as an industrial mechanic at Caterpillar Mining in Lünen, Germany. His arrival at Caterpillar marks a milestone in a remarkable journey.
Farooq escaped from his home country of Afghanistan when he was only 15 years old, leaving his parents and siblings and all he knew behind him. It took him five months to arrive in Germany. He spoke not one word of German, had a very dangerous escape behind him and was completely on his own.
After his graduation from German elementary school, Farooq sent over 70 applications to companies, but only Caterpillar in Lünen was willing to give him a chance. At the time his German language skills were limited, and, as a refugee, he only had a temporary residence permit.
According to a study conducted in Germany, only 15 percent of companies are ready to hire young people with foreign roots. Caterpillar in Lünen has been a part of this small group of companies for years, but Farooq, now successfully integrated in the company, was the first refugee hired.
“We strongly believe it to be part of our social responsibility to give young people like Farooq the possibility to enjoy a good education.”
Farooq’s aim is to successfully complete his industrial mechanic training and then possibly continue his studies. His instructor is very enthusiastic about his curiosity, ambition and commitment. “All I want is to build a new life for me here,” said Farooq.
Caterpillar employees come to us in many different ways, with many different stories. But we are humbled by what they have in common: the loyalty and dedication to put their talents and enthusiasm to work to help us build the world.