Our Spotlight on Super series highlights the SRC team members who help keep SRC a great a place to work and grow. For this installment, we sat down with Thomas Beamesderfer, a 5-year SRC employee who currently holds the title of degreaser operator at SRC’s Richmond division.
Q: Where are you from originally, Thomas?
TB: I came here in around 1984 from my country, Cambodia. My mom died of cancer when I was young, and there was fighting going on in my country around that time. And, when the communists came into Cambodia, they killed my dad – he tried to escape to Thailand, but he got caught. That’s all my mom knew.
After that, we escaped to the Thailand border along with all the other refugees. We walked through the jungle – day and night, had to sleep on the streets – all that. We brought whatever we had, and when we ran out of food we would just eat corn or whatever else we could find.
We had people who were leading us to the border who knew how to get there, and the Vietnamese had set up a checkpoint on the road we were on, so that’s why we had to go through the jungle. Then I lived in Thailand for a few years until I was about 10 years old. We went to schools that they had set up for us. After that, we entered a refugee program where they would sponsor us to go either to the United States or Canada – I ended up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Q: Your name – Beamesderfer – that’s not a Cambodian name, right? What’s the story behind that?
TB: Well, when I was getting sponsored to come to America, the family that took me in had a German background. They had taken in another Cambodian refugee as well, and also had three biological children. There were nine of us living in a small house – only one bathroom. And there were only two or three Cambodian families that lived in Harrisburg, so there was a bit of culture shock for me, but my dad stepped in and took us in, and I’m very thankful for that.
Q: How did you find your way to Richmond?
TB: Well, I met my wife down here. My sister moved to Richmond first and met her husband and she introduced me to my wife, who was a friend of hers from church. She said, “I’ve got a friend I think you’d get along with,” so she introduced me and then, a year later, we were married. I’ve been here for about 30 years now.
Q: What’s the story of how you found out about Super Radiator? How’d you come to work here?
TB: Well, I’ve always kind of known about this place since I’ve been here. I had lots of friends who worked at SRC or had worked there in the past – and actually the ex-wife of one of my family members worked here at the time, so I just thought “alright, I don’t think I want to work there,” (laughs). But I did put in a few applications over the years just to keep my options open when I was looking for jobs, and each time, another place I’d applied called me back first, so the timing just didn’t line up back then I guess.
The last place I worked just didn’t treat us right, and I was stressed, so I applied at SRC because I’d known people who said it was a good place to work – I’d worked with the plant’s production manager at a previous job – and here I am. I started in the assembly department and now I run the degreaser. I’ve been here for the last 5+ years. It was a good change for me. My wife and one of my kids work here, too.
Q: Have you always worked with your hands? Talk a bit about your professional background and the type of work you enjoy doing.
TB: Yeah, I’ve always worked in manufacturing. I’ve worked at printing shops, where I’d work on the equipment, keeping the printers running, things like that. But there was just too much work there. It was a small shop, and we had more work than we could handle, so I left after a couple years. I’ve also worked in warehousing at a few places, but after I left my last warehouse job I came here.
Q: You run the degreaser in the shop – what’s involved with that? What’s a typical day like for you?
TB: After the coil gets expanded, it comes to the degreaser, which cleans the coils – gets rid of oils used during expansion, water, things like that. I stack the coils up in the degreaser basket, make sure it’s all secured, and then I head into the degreaser room where I’ll put the basket of coils through the degreasing process. I like the work I do. It keeps me busy, and it keeps me in shape.
Q: What is something that you would want an SRC job applicant to know about working here? Why should they choose SRC as their employer?
TB: I’d tell them this place is different. When I toured before I took the job, I’d never seen a place like this – it’s clean, comfortable – it’s just a nice place to work. I can say it’s the best place I’ve worked since I came to the United States. I love this place because they treat us right and the people are friendly. It’s a good place to be. If you’re looking to make a job change, I recommend it here. As long as you do the best you can, stay focused, and get your job done, you’ll be okay.
Q: What about when you’re not at work? How do you like to spend your time away from SRC?
TB: I like to fish, work in the garden, that kind of stuff. I do a lot of fishing at the [James] River – mostly for white perch and shad. I used to have a boat too, and I’d go to the Northern Neck and fish. And this year I’m growing tomatoes, green beans, hot peppers, pumpkins, lettuce – lots of stuff. I’m taking a trip to Cambodia in the spring, but I’ll be planting all that when I get back.
If you’d like to know more about working at SRC, be sure to stop by our Careers Homepage to learn more about who we are, what we make, and where we work. And stop by our job listings page to see our open positions. Manufacturing experience is preferred, but not required. If you’ve got a positive attitude and a good work ethic, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.