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Military Veterans in High Demand for Service King Jobs

Business, Featured

Exterior view of a Service King location with a vehicle in need of auto body repair. | Image from Service King Collision (North Dallas) Facebook

Javier Valencia is a military veteran who completed three and a half years enlisted in the U.S. Army. Following his service, he transitioned from military combat to a position at Service King, where he felt an immediate sense of belonging.

“I feel like I am a part of a mission, and there are people there to help me out,” Javier told Dallas Express. “That level of cohesiveness I feel at Service King is something I have only experienced in the military. Service King was not my first employer since the military. Other employers weren’t bad. They were all good in their own way, but they just don’t compare to the appreciation for the military that Service King has.”

Service King, which operates auto body collision repair facilities in 24 states and the District of Columbia, committed to hiring more than 500 military veterans in five years through its Mission to Hire program in 2015 but has far exceeded that goal.

“We were actually able to achieve that goal in three years,” said Lakeitria Luter, Dallas-based director of diversity and external relations with Service King. “Now, we’re just continuously focused on hiring veterans. It’s absolutely important because of the fact that these veterans have served our country. It’s the least we can do is to give them an opportunity to be able to start a new career outside of them retiring or leaving the military.”

Mission to Hire is Service King’s internal initiative to hire military veterans, including hiring the spouses of individuals who have served in the armed forces.

“We see that our veteran teammates are very loyal and focused on building the organization,” Luter told Dallas Express. “They also have great communication skills and the ability to multitask. The veterans who have joined us have progressed very quickly just because of their determination and motivation. It’s a win-win because we’re gaining teammates that value the organization as much as we value them.”

For example, Valencia was originally hired to work at a Service King in California, but when his mother-in-law fell ill, he had an immediate need to move his family to Dallas.

“I was about nine months in with the company when this situation happened,” he said. “I didn’t think the company was going to help me, but they did. About three months after moving to Dallas, I took over as a manager for recruiting. So, I got a promotion with Service King within my first year.”

In addition to Mission to Hire, Service King has partnered with the Department of Defense to offer a nationally certified apprenticeship program called SkillBridge that focuses on veterans transitioning out of the military.

“A lot of them need to learn a new skill because many are trained as infantry soldiers, and other than law enforcement, there’s not many companies trying to hire someone who knows how to blow up buildings or something like it,” Valencia told Dallas Express. “So, the challenge is that there’s a skill gap. Many are trying to get out of the military because they want to do something different. So being hired by a company that trains you is very valuable.”

Through the SkillBridge program, Service King looks for military veterans with a mechanical background who can complete their apprentice body technician program.

“It definitely helps the veteran,” Luter said in an interview. “We give them a full-time opportunity. They get a 401k plan, and they get medical insurance. We do that with pride because we are passionate about being able to give veterans job opportunities. I definitely recommend all companies should be hiring veterans just because of what they bring to the table and how they can contribute to the overall organization.”

According to Valencia, not all companies are as adept as Service King in creating a work culture in which military veterans fit in.

“It’s difficult for veterans to find a company that has a culture where they will not only fit in but also stand out,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a single company out there looking to hire veterans that doesn’t want to promote veterans. It’s just that veterans are getting offered jobs with a company, and they’re not truly looking at whether they will fit in and stand out. I advise them to slow down and try to find a company where you do fit within their culture, and then you’re more likely to land a career at a company like Service King.”

Service King also works with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on its Hiring Our Heroes program, which is held three times a year for 12 weeks so that soldiers can serve their last three months of military commitment on the job.

“Along with Javier Valencia, who is our dedicated program manager, we have individuals on our talent acquisition team who help to translate the resume to the hiring managers so they are able to understand how they can contribute overall to Service King,” Luter added. “For us, it’s pretty easy to employ the veterans because we have dedicated resources and people to help them get their foot in the door.”

The Army helped Valencia, for example, gain a hidden skill that he did not know would be important later on.

“I was in the infantry, so I didn’t necessarily have too many skills that were transitioning out, but the one skill that I had when I finished basic training was when I went back home for something called hometown recruiting where I got to spend three months with a local recruiter and the recruiting station in the area that I grew up in,” Valencia added. “I would visit the high schools and help them out with their recruiting efforts. When I got out of the military, there weren’t many companies looking to hire infantry soldiers, but that recruiter experience helped me land my first job in recruiting and talent acquisition.”

Upon completion of the 12 week Associates General Manager Development program, Service King works with Hiring Our Heroes to identify leadership talent for Service King stores where they will lead teams, according to Luter.

“We’ve been in partnerships and working with hiring our heroes for a year now,” she said. “We’ve had really great success stories from the program with folks coming in and excelling. We’re really excited about it.”

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