Mike Hillis began his career with the military back in 1985 where he served 21 years in the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program as a plant operator and later as a Naval Reactors Representative Officer. During his time in the military, Mike gained a wealth of discipline, knowledge, and experience that he now credits to his successful career with Stiles Machinery.
When it came time to explore a career outside the military, Mike took part in an interview recruitment fair in Dallas, TX. After a very successful interview with a different company, Mike happened to bump into Kent Hartman, a former member of the U.S. Airforce and Regional Service Manager of Stiles Machinery.
“I asked him what Stiles Machinery did, and when he started using words like machinery, CNC, bearings, electronics, mechanical engineering, and customer support, a lightbulb went off for me,” said Mike.
Kent was describing the role of a Field Service Representative (FSR) at Stiles. Mike was drawn to this position, not only because it was a good fit for his military experience, but because it allowed him the freedom and flexibility of working remotely in different regions across the country.
A few weeks later, Mike flew out to Stiles’ Regional Office in Dallas, TX where he interviewed for an open FSR position. Thanks to his years of experience and competency with electronics, electrical safety, and mechanical skills, as well as his undeniable work ethic he earned during his military career, Mike was offered the position on the spot.
“There wasn’t a lot of wood on our submarines, you know. And I know nothing about your equipment or your industry," Mike recalls jokingly mentioning during the interview.
The response he got from Kent sealed the deal for Mike, “What we are looking for is good employees, we can teach you the rest.” Mike called up the other company who he had interviewed with previously and turned down a job offer from them to take the position at Stiles. “It was about where I was going to be happiest in my job,” Mike noted.
“Within a month I was installing my first CNC machine. I just loved it. When you walk into a customer’s shop, and they are looking to you to fix their problem or overcome a challenge, and you can confidently help them, there just isn’t a better feeling in the world.”
During his time at Stiles, Mike has experienced boundless opportunities for growth as well as the support needed to advance his career. In 2011, Mike was promoted to the Customer Service Manager for the Stiles’ Parts Department. Four years later, Mike was promoted again to the National Parts Manager, where he was responsible for Stiles’ entire national parts distribution center.
Recently, Mike received yet another promotion to his current role as the Director of Customer Support Services for Stiles, where he oversees all aspects of after-sales customer support including field service, remote technical support, and parts distribution and logistics operations.
Mike attributes his success at Stiles to the disciplines and principles he gained throughout his time in the Navy paired with Stiles’ commitment to the success and growth of their employees. One of the things that Mike mentioned he appreciates about Stiles is that, “Any good manager supports their employees not only in their day to day, but they support the lives and the futures of their employees as well.”
When asked what advice he would give to someone considering a career with Stiles after their military service, Mike responded,
“Stiles offers the unique opportunity for you to create your own path. Stop waiting for people to promote you and start promoting yourself. Stiles creates the perfect environment for that. If people are happy, they can’t help but be successful.”