“We need more AJs in the world!” says Warehouse Lead Associate Tracie Fisher. “AJ is absolutely one of the hardest workers I have ever encountered and I am always impressed by the care and dedication to quality that she puts into every pallet.”
Over the past 10 years, AJ Spears has worked at TVS in almost every area including blending, set-ups, driving fork trucks, and as a floor lead for INTERACT participants.
Now AJ can be found at the warehouse location palletizing and making sure Prime Vendor and Troop Support orders are shipped out correctly. “I love the independence of being at the new warehouse,” AJ said. “But I do miss the INTERACT participants, they are what have kept me here. They bring a lot out of you without ever even trying.”
Her peers describe her as compassionate, being detail oriented, having a strong work ethic, perfectionist, and an open book.
When talking about her work, she always says, “if I wouldn’t send it to my mama looking like that, why would I send it to our soldiers?” If there is a pallet or case out of place, AJ will find it and fix it, she has no tolerance for cutting corners.
“Everything has to look right, or she will break the pallet down and redo the entire thing,” explains Warehouse Manager Shannon Merrill. “She also takes it upon herself to do more than her normal duties. She takes care of anything that might need to be done.”
Shannon has known AJ his entire time working at TVS, but has only worked directly with her over the past couple years since her promotion to Warehouse Production Associate.
“She is determined to do her job to the best of her ability, and her ability exceeds almost everyone I know,” said Customer Relations Specialist Robin Ervin. “She’s a beast! In the past year, Prime Vendor has shipped out 63,522 cases of product and AJ has had her hands on 99% of those cases.”
The TVS warehouse has a bulletin board that changes themes monthly. AJ has adorned the hat of Country Music Singer Gretchen Wilson, Animal from The Muppets, and Sandy the Squirrel from SpongeBob. Currently, she has been likened to Looney Tune’s Yosemite Sam. “For those who know AJ well, Yosemite Sam is likely to be the most accurate of them all,” laughs Robin.
“She is hilarious and you never have to wonder how she feels about things,” Robin explains. “AJ is rightfully proud of how far she has come since leaving her past struggles with addiction behind.”
AJ moved to Brevard in the 1990s with her family from Lodi, California. She worked other jobs including a PBX answering service, woodworking, and dog groomer. “My past history was rocky, but TVS took a chance on it,” said AJ.
“I give blood, sweat, and tears for this place to help feed the world,” she said. Reflecting over the past decade, AJ says, “it has been awesome working here. I love my job, what we do, and our mission. TVS has helped me in life and if I wasn’t here don’t know if I would have survived sobriety.”
Last year, AJ and her wife Alicia purchased their first home. When they are not working at TVS, they can be found helping friends, neighbors, and those in need mow to their lawns. “It makes you feel good to be helpful,” says AJ.
With all the work, AJ does enjoy some play while visiting the Cherokee casino. While AJ enjoys her luck at the slots, she does have a series of unfortunate events. “TVS is not kind to AJ and Alicia’s car,” laughs Robin.
In 2019, Mother Nature decided to strike the TVS parking lot with a bolt of lightning. The strike blew the pavement out from under the car and completely fried the electronics and killing their car. Luckily, it occurred during working hours and no one was outside.
But now her new car is a “car-magnet,” attracting other cars to bump into it while working at the warehouse location.
Looking ahead in her career at TVS, AJ is always looking for new ways to grow and with her motto of, “work hard and keep your chin up,” the possibilities are endless.