The United States Department of Defense continues to salute Herc Rentals as a Military Friendly® company.
For the second straight year, Herc Rentals has been issued a Patriot Award by the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). The award is given to companies as a way to recognize employers who have gone above and beyond the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
The nomination process requires a team member to fill out a series of ESGR forms stating why a manager is deserving. In 2019, Herc Rentals’ President and CEO Larry Silber received the Patriot Award after Willie Brown, a National Guardsman and branch manager of Herc Rentals’ Winter Park, TX, location, nominated him.
This year, another Patriot Award was given to Brett Piepel, branch manager of the company’s Bellingham, WA, location after Herc Rentals truck driver and U.S. Army Reservist Jesse Patrick followed through with the nomination process.
“I nominated Brett because he has been the most supportive manager I’ve ever had in relation to my military service,” Patrick said. “He has spoken highly of our nation’s armed services on many occasions and allowed me to hang the only American flag I’ve seen at a Herc branch in the Pacific Northwest.”
During high school, Patrick enlisted in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer and went through basic training between his junior and senior years. After graduating high school, he joined the U.S Army Reserves and, except for being active during a one-year deployment to Iraq as a Bridge Crew member in 2009-2010, Patrick has been a Reservist ever since.
“Every year in the reserves we get a briefing and presentation from ESGR about our rights in the workplace as well as the awards they offer for employers that go above and beyond the requirements under federal law,” he said.
Unlike Patrick’s past employers, Piepel has been respectful and accommodating of his service and that was the main reason why he took the time to nominate him.
“I get orders to go to training with very little advance notice,” Patrick said. “I know last minute, or extended absence orders can be a burden on business and managers. I heard this plenty of times from previous employers. Brett never complained or made any kind of negative comments. He truly is a patriot and is most deserving of this award.”
Piepel had no idea Patrick was undertaking this mission.
“I came in to work and found this package leaned up against my office door,” Piepel said. “Honestly, when I first saw the award, I wasn’t quite sure what it was. As I read through the letter explaining it, I was touched and proud.”
He said he had to read the letter a few times before the honor sank in. “I feel it is my duty as an American citizen to do what I can to support our troops, so it never occurred to me that supporting Jesse was anything above standard procedure,” he said. “It means a lot that one of my employees nominated me. In my mind, this award also speaks volumes about Herc Rentals as a whole. The overwhelming voice of support from all levels of the company is truly something special.”
While Piepel never served, many in his family did. “I was raised with a great appreciation for the sacrifices our service members make,” he said. “Supporting our troops is always important. They are the reason we get to do everything that we do. Without every branch of the military we wouldn’t have the freedoms to operate this business. The Reserves and Guard are no exception. They have made sacrifices most of the general population couldn’t even comprehend. I’m proud to work for a company that makes it a priority to provide opportunities to service members and utilize the skills they’ve worked so hard to obtain.”
Taking home a Patriot Award in consecutive years can have a long-term positive impact on the company’s efforts to recruit and hire more veterans, explained Jeff Simmons, the company’s military programs recruiting lead.
Right now, Herc Rentals has over 400 team members who are veterans and hired more than 80 additional veterans last year alone.
“We are seeing a cultural shift and a greater appreciation within the ranks at Herc with those who are stepping up to be seen while giving support to our current and potential veteran employees,” Simmons said. “It is my hope that actions like this spread through this organization like a brush fire. The men and women who continue to serve our country, as well as those veterans at Herc carry a special message that will attract and retain quality employees for years to come. This is a tremendous acknowledgement.”
Mark Arell, the company’s talent and organization development vice president, called the news of the nomination, “fantastic,” adding that the company’s efforts to reach out to Team Herc veterans through its newly formed Veterans Resource Group, word of mouth and other tactics for recruiting veterans is working.
“Herc Rentals’ mission is similar to the military as we stand ready to deploy, assist and support those responding to natural disasters, and supporting critical infrastructure,” said Simmons, adding that the company values many of the same things the military provides to its veterans ― a powerful combination of purpose, work ethic, leadership, teamwork and the drive to succeed.