Most passengers may never meet her, but Jan Fields is an integral part of the Kenmore Air family. From her level-headed counsel and guidance to her genuine concern for each family member, this 46-year veteran has been with the Pacific Northwest airline since before it was a full-fledged airline.
“When I first started, we didn’t sell individual seats like we do today. If you wanted to fly to Canada, you had to charter a plane. So, we chartered a lot of planes back then,” says Jan.
Her tenure began June of 1972, working as a receptionist and charter specialist during her summer vacation to help pay her way through college. Jan commuted from her childhood home in Kirkland, Wash., returning the subsequent two summers while she finished her Bachelors in Sociology at Western Washington University.
During those early years, Jan worked closely with Bob Munro, one of Kenmore’s founders. The lessons she learned from Mr. Munro are still with her today.
“Mr. Munro was a really considerate boss to his employees. He was polite and respectful, even to a young ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ employee. And, he wanted to do the right thing in business. As a young person, watching how he dealt with things was very impressive,” says Jan.
Jan’s role has evolved as Kenmore’s needs have presented themselves — a situation which has suited this multi-passionate woman nicely. “One of the things I’ve really loved about working here is the ability to try new things. If there’s a need and you’re willing to take it on, Kenmore supports you,” Jan explains.
And over the years, she’s tried a lot of new things — holding more than seven titles. Today, she still wears multiple hats serving as the Director of Human Resources, Payroll Manager, Personnel Manager and Employee Benefits Manager. Acutely aware of how the business is impacted by the seasons, Jan plays an active role in on-boarding spring hires and helping full-time employees get the benefits they need.
“That’s one of the things about Kenmore. They’ve never wanted to act like a corporation. They’ve always strived to do the best they can for their employees and treat everyone like family,” says Jan.
With such thoughtful leadership and employee development, it’s easy to see why employees are considered part of the ‘Kenmore Air family’ rather than staff.
A woman of many talents, Jan earned her private pilot’s license on floats at Kenmore in 1978 — a skill she enjoyed using when visiting her in-laws in LaConner and taking her husband to Dabob Bay for oyster- and crab-packed picnics on the beach. Jan and her husband Mike, are both advanced scuba divers, former motorcycle riders and sailing/boating enthusiasts. They also spent several years as beekeepers, a labor-intensive hobby they chose to give up once they had kids.
Now that both kids have finished college, the couple has slowed down. Their primary recreation is hopping into BERT (Mike’s dream truck, a 2500 GMC Sierra Denali diesel) and bebopping from town to town and campground to campground. “We call the truck BERT for ‘Big Expensive Red Truck’. And when I get in BERT, I just sit back and see where the road takes us,” says Jan. Together, they’ve explored national monuments, old growth forests, and the pristine Pacific Northwest coast.