I can’t think of any better way to spend an afternoon than talking with Tom Mathews – Training General Manager at North Huntingdon Eat’n Park. Having 37 years of experience with the company, he has a whole lot of great stuff to share. Since, Tom is such a great guy, sharing comes easy for him. And share he did!
Tom started with Eat’n Park back in 1975. He was attending college for Engineering and was looking for a summer job. His grandmother saw an advertisement in the paper for a cook position at the local Eat’n Park and told Tom about it. He applied and got the job. Tom started as a cook, but was soon trained to manage shifts and was running in charge shifts when his managers went on their summer vacations. He liked managing so such that he decided to pursue a career in restaurant management.
Tom was in the Management Training Program for 2 weeks and then was promoted to Assistant Manager. (The length of Eat’n Park management training sure has changed a LOT since then!) In six months he was promoted to Manager and it didn’t take Tom long to be promoted to General Manager after that! Since that time he has been the General Manager of 7 restaurants. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, he trains newly hired Assistant Managers, teaches an interviewing class here at the Corporate Support Center and is one heck of a softball player.
I asked Tom what Eat’n Park was all about for him. He said one word: Opportunity. He has had so many opportunities since joining Eat’n Park that he can’t even keep track of them. He has been given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Pirate’s baseball game, given tickets to countless football, baseball, hockey and basketball games. Tom even had the opportunity to go back to the University of Pittsburgh and finish his degree through Eat’n Park’s Tuition Reimbursement program. There has always been someone at Eat’n Park to take an interest in Tom. Eat’n Park is big enough to give opportunity, but small enough that they still know who you are. Not many people can say that the CEO of their company knows their wife, personally, and knows what they like. As you can tell Tom likes sports and the leaders at Eat’n Park are fully aware of Tom’s interest in sports.
Given the breadth of Tom’s experience I asked him for some career advice. He said that often time’s folks forget that they need to produce results to be able to receive recognition and rewards. With that said, Tom lives by the 3-R’s, results, recognition and rewards. In order to get results you must remember: Its business, not personal. Be responsible for your own self development. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.Develop systems. Tom said that it is because of his own ability to create systems which is why he doesn’t need to work hard. He works smart.
Tom, thank you for 37 great years and I wish you many more. I’m glad your grandma told you where to have a great career!