Tim Storey loved being a Marine, but he knew a lifelong military career was not for him.
So, after seven years of service, Storey began searching for his next passion. That search led him to Amazon.
After joining the online retail giant three years ago as an area manager, Storey worked his way up to senior operational manager. He says he puts the skills he honed in the military to use every day at Amazon, and the company heralds him as an example of the success of its commitment to recruiting veterans.
“It’s ever-changing,” said Storey, 33, originally from Kirkland, Wash., who was a Marine Corps infantry captain when he left the military in 2013. “It’s an exciting and fast-paced type of condition where you need to make decisions as a manager here, and that’s a good thing. It’s an exciting thing. The Marine Corps, it prepped me for that. It’s a way for me to truly apply my last seven years, where sometimes it’s kind of hard to relate that from a veteran’s perspective, on where that translates into the workforce. At Amazon, it was welcomed, as far as those types of skills.”
Amazon employs more than 7,000 veterans nationwide, with many of those recruited through a team made up of former military members. The company hired more than 4,400 veterans in 2015 and has pledged to add 25,000 veterans and military spouses to its ranks during the next five years.
“Amazon is very supportive of our military men and women,” Amazon spokeswoman Anne Laughlin said. “It’s a terrific fit. They have tremendous leadership skills and problem-solving abilities in such a fast-paced environment.”
Amazon’s efforts mirror a statewide push to hire veterans. S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce spokesman Bob Bouyea said that organization helped 8,000 veterans find jobs in 2015, when the unemployment rate for veterans was 4.4%. The unemployment rate for the general population hovered around 5.5% for the last half of that year.
Storey never pictured himself in charge of inbound inventory for Amazon’s 1.2 million-square-foot West Columbia fulfillment center, helping move merchandise for an international behemoth that amassed revenues of $107 billion in 2015. But he’s found that it dovetails well with perspective gained during his military service, which included deployments to Kuwait in 2008, Japan and the Philippines in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2010.
“Every day, we learn how to grow and develop and to be better and to learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. … The thing that the Marines, especially the infantry, gave me was an opportunity to lead through people — people of diverse and different backgrounds, and to temper my leadership traits and principles to my environment,” Storey said.
“When I went to Amazon, it doesn’t change. People are people. So for me to be an effective leader — my success lies in how well my team can perform.”
Storey researched potential career paths after leaving the military and found Amazon through other veterans he knew who worked for the company. He and his wife, Nicole, moved to South Carolina three years ago.
The Storeys now have four children, ranging in age from 10 to the latest arrival in April. Another benefit of working at Amazon, Storey said, was the two three-week periods of parental leave he has been able to take to help Nicole, a professional baker, with their growing family.
Storey now works with other veterans, helping them make the same transition he did.
“I’ll have one-on-ones with them, and we’ll talk about when I first came to the company and some of the styles and differences from the military to Amazon, and it makes it very smooth,” Storey said. “We come from similar backgrounds, experiences, similar perspective. It makes for a great team, and in my opinion, a very efficient team.
“It’s very welcoming, from a veteran perspective.”