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ETR: A Family Business

ETR: A Family Business

By Shawn Del Carlo | August 28, 2018
Warehouse Senior Supervisor, ETR

ETR is a non-profit. In some ways, we’re also a sort of family business. I’ve worked here for 21 years, and during that time, we’ve hired lots of employees’ kids, nieces, nephews and friends.

Sometimes people come for temp jobs, and sometimes they’re hired in standard positions. This has been good. I think it’s built a closer sense of connection among staff. We know each other, we care about one another’s families, and we feel good joining together to work on something that makes the world a better place.

Family members have worked in all of our departments, but I bet I’ve hired the most. I’m the warehouse senior supervisor. We receive all the printed materials that come in. We catalog and place all of our products on the shelves. We pick and pack and ship the orders. We build the kits ETR sells—condom kits or EBI (evidence-based intervention) kits. We coordinate with our sales staff to make sure they get everything they need when they go to a conference—booth, displays, samples. We keep the inventory current.

End of the Year: Heavy Lifting

We always have a heavy workload in the warehouse near the end of our fiscal year—May and June are crazy. We need extra people to come in and help us with our big year-end effort. I’ve hired from temp agencies, but the workers haven’t been especially reliable, and they’re not really connected to our purpose or the work we do.

That’s one of the reasons it’s so nice to hire family and friends—they care. They show up. They like the connection. They get some first-hand knowledge about what their parent or aunt or friend does.

We’ve had all kinds of people working in the warehouse. The son of our national sales manager. The niece of our HR director. One year, our COO’s wife helped with data keying when we were doing our inventory. A girlfriend of one of our warehouse guys helped us out one season.

There are two people who’ve stepped into this role who are particularly special to me—my son Aaron, who helped out one summer a few years back, and my daughter Melanie, who helped just this year.

Hard Work and Time Together

My daughter had never seen me at work here. We’re lifting boxes, getting things shipped, meeting deadlines. We’re in touch with ETR staff all day long. I think she was proud of how much we do here and how much responsibility I have.

Melanie at the warehouse

Working together like this gave us some extra time together this summer. We had to get to the warehouse early. She’d get up and make us bagels, or maybe pack us a lunch. We’d talk on the drive in. We’d be joking around with the other guys on the team. We just had all of this extra interaction and bonding. I think she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Melanie is attending Arizona State University, and next summer she wants to do a semester abroad. I’d hire her again in an instant, but I’m not sure it will fit into her schedule, so it’s special that we had time together this year.

Melanie at Arizona State

I’m really proud of her. She’d come in and work the warehouse for 8-10 hours. It’s demanding work! It’s physical, and you constantly have to think about what you’re doing, too. Three times a week, after she finished up at work, she went off to coach a competitive girls’ softball team. The team had tournaments on the weekends and she went to all of those. And she was taking some classes at our local junior college. She was constantly on the go.

She has a great work ethic. I like to think that it’s partly because of me—she’s a lot like me.

A Great Team

I’m also glad Melanie got to know the guys I work with, because I feel so honored to be part of this team. We’ve been together long enough, we’re kind of like family too. Tony’s been working here 7-8 years, Jesús for 16, Sean for 20. I’m lucky that these are the people I work with. Across all of ETR, there’s not one person I have an issue with. That’s really something, to be able to say that about your workplace.

It’s also great to know that people in your workplace are thinking about you. Back in 2014, I had a heart attack. They broke a few ribs when they were doing CPR on me. When I got out of the hospital, my ribs were toast—I couldn’t sneeze or cough or laugh without pain. But T Sanders, our HR Director, asked me to come to the ETR holiday party right after I got out. She told me that people really wanted to see me.

That meant a lot to me, so even though I wasn’t feeling well, I decided to go. I walked into the room and everyone broke into applause. I really lost it—tears coming down, I couldn’t talk. That’s how much everybody here means to me.

Like a lot of workplaces, when someone at ETR is going to have a baby, we have a baby shower. In 1999, my wife and I were expecting. ETR threw a shower for us at the warehouse. That was the shower for Melanie! Everybody welcomed her to ETR before she was even born, and then we got to welcome her back this summer when she came back to work with us.

That’s just the kind of place this is. Good people who genuinely care.


Shawn Del Carlo is Warehouse Senior Supervisor at ETR.

*Note: When family members of ETR staff are hired here, their direct supervisor is always a non-related individual. ETR may consider optional placement of a relative if it involves potential conflicts of interest for the department or project.


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