Brothers in Arms: Why Military Leaders Make Great Operations Leaders



Productiv is honored to have several former military leaders on our leadership team. Military leaders are disciplined, fearless, and know how to approach a mission as a team. This type of training is invaluable in our industry when it comes to managing logistics, running smooth operations, and motivating large teams. In this Veterans Day blog tribute, we share the story of two of Productiv’s own veterans who are brothers, Marines and exceptional leaders.Val and Ian Tunnell are brothers who grew up playing Rambo together in their back yard in Mesquite, Texas. As young adults, they dabbled with college and odd jobs, but still wanted more from life and so they joined the Marines. Val joined first, then Ian enlisted ten months later. Val was stationed in Okinawa, Japan at the time and Ian thought that sounded like a “pretty cool place to be.”About their ServiceVal Tunnell served 20 years in the Marine Corps, finishing his career as a Sergeant Major. He was a Logistics Chief for several infantry battalions and served four tours, two in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Val served on three ship deployments with Marine Expeditionary Units, and was a drill instructor for three years before finishing his career as a senior enlisted advisor for USMC Reconnaissance and an aviation support squadron.Ian Tunnell served 17 years in the Marine Corps, finishing his career as a Staff Sergeant. He spent a majority of his service as an Ammunition Technician (Military Occupational Specialty 2311) working across multiple commands: Logistics, Artillery, Infantry, Air Wing and other base support groups. Ian served on two ship deployments, and served two tours of duty, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.Val and Ian served side by side a few times in their careers: On Ian’s very first duty in Okinawa for four months, in Afghanistan for a week during Christmas 2010 (see photo), and on Camp Pendleton (CA) and Camp Lejeune (NC) at the same time but with different units.[caption id="attachment_2337" align="aligncenter" width="560"]

Brothers Val and Ian Tunnell, Christmas 2010, Afghanistan[/caption]Transitioning Leadership Skills to Civilian LifeAfter his military career, Val joined Productiv as the Operations Manager for our Addison, TX facility near Dallas, and then transferred to our facilities in Chicago. He soon tapped Ian to manage our Dallas-area Addison operation. Many of the valuable skills Val and Ian learned while serving in the military directly apply to their success running our fulfillment operations.First, both brothers say the tempo of our operations is similar to the deployments they’ve served -- it’s fast-paced and you have to be flexible.Second, they both use similar skills to align and motivate their teams. “You have to give people a sense of responsibility and ownership in the outcomes,” says Val. “And then support them by giving them clear direction, caring about their well-being and being prompt with their concerns.” Ian added: “It helps to learn people’s personalities and skills, so you can play to their strengths and motivate them. When you establish mutual respect, people will want to do things on their own will, not because you asked them to.”So, what’s different about working in a civilian operation? First, both brothers agree that even as managers, you have to be prepared to do everything: sweep, stack, move goods…everything. At Productiv, we call this “servant leadership” and it’s a key ingredient to our success. Second, they agree that sometimes you have to get creative when motivating teams. As Val says: “You can’t just order someone to do something simply because you outrank them. The customer is the only person who holds rank in our business, and that’s who we’re focused on.”Like all veterans, Val and Ian are full of stories they like to share with friends and family. Some stories come from shared experiences, while others come from serving in different units in many parts of the world.At Productiv, we are very grateful for the service of all our military members and their families. We especially appreciate all those veterans at Productiv who bring their loyalty, skills and leadership to work every day. Special thanks to Val and Ian for sharing their “Brothers in Arms” story with us this Veterans Day.Looking for an appropriate way to show your appreciation to our Veterans?Follow this link to the website where you’ll find several ways to say “Thanks” to our Veterans.


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