Photograph provided by Chris Klassen

IVEPer Juan Velasco, centre, from Colombia enjoys camaraderie over Colombian coffee with ATC colleagues Lynford Slabaugh, Austin Miller and Chris Klassen.

Chris Klassen, who served with MCC's SALT program in Kenya in 2014-2015, writes about the preparation and planning required for ATC Trailers to welcome their first IVEP engineer, Juan Velasco.

I first met Juan in a Skype interview one week before he arrived in Nappanee, Indiana. Our company’s People Development Representative and I had arranged the interview with the goal of asking Juan about his expectations for the IVEP year. In the Research & Development department at ATC Trailers we are asked to do a wide range of tasks, from new product and process design, to product testing and software management; Juan was interested in everything! As a bonus he also had a good deal of relevant experience. We left the interview feeling encouraged that we could fulfill Juan’s expectations. 

Juan has now been working as an engineer in the R&D department for three months and I am thrilled with the situation. Any expectations we had have been met or exceeded, and I think this is partially because we developed our expectations along with Juan, and partially because Juan has been very intentional about coming to work with a good attitude.

Our experience with Juan has not been without challenges. Language barriers as well as support time for Juan must be navigated every day. It is in this tension that the R&D group has learned a lot from Juan. I am working to become more intentional about coming to work with a good attitude. Thankfully, when I fail to do so, Juan’s contagious laughter is a good reminder that the atmosphere of the work place is as important as the team’s level of focus.

An additional challenge we have faced is that Juan is often in a position where he needs help to continue his work. To shift this dynamic, Juan has begun teaching me Spanish. This provides me with a helpful window into his experience; the more I learn about Spanish, the more we understand each other’s speech patterns and the better our communication gets.

For the rest of this IVEP year I hope to include Juan in some new product development, as well as an evaluation of the structural standards we use to design our trailer frames.

Welcoming an IVEPer was and still is a large unknown for the R&D department. We will see what more we can learn from each other over these next nine months. If nothing else, we will continue to share our favorite foods, like Colombian coffee, guava candy, apple cider and sweet corn.

By Chris Klassen, Research & Development, ATC Trailers, Nappanee, Indiana