United Airlines Designated Station Trainer Marvin Avestruz recently received the “Unsung Heroes” award from Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program, which honors employees who work behind the scenes and are not typically recognized for their work. Although they do not work directly with guests, their effectiveness significantly affects the airport and guest experience.
This year, Avestruz is celebrating 37 years with United Airlines. As a designated station trainer for the PHL ramp, he trains new hires in safe ramp operations on driving a tractor, towing an airplane, and deicing aircraft. He also works on recurrent training with existing staff to refreshen their skills and safety procedures. He works the 3:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. shift.
Each day, Avestruz and his team have a briefing plan for each flight, and look ahead by pre-planning the remaining flights of the day. “I enjoy working with my coworkers and like that my days are never the same,” said Avestruz. “Airline work is always unpredictable, and we are often tasked with managing irregularities. I especially like training new staff who have no previous airport experience, so that I can teach them the skills to become a competent ramp employee. It is rewarding for me to see the agents I have trained, go on to become successful and do a good job. I feel like I learn something new with each new class and recognize the benefits our diverse workforce brings.”
Avestruz demonstrates strong values of teamwork, proactive communication, effectiveness, respect, and integrity. In his nomination of Avestruz, United Airlines General Manager Carl Hicks stated, “Marvin is ‘THE’ ramp trainer for United Airlines at PHL. He has consistently facilitated the training of new employees during our hiring efforts over the last 18 months. His effectiveness as a trainer is an important part of the overall success of our station. Marvin is an excellent communicator and takes great pride in ensuring his trainees are set up for success by applying safe, caring, reliable and efficient applications of mentorship.”
Originally from San Diego, Avestruz moved to Philadelphia in 1985 with the intention of working for an airline. About a year later, he was hired at United, where he met his wife, Karen. They eventually were transferred to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) for United, then came back to PHL in 1999. Avestruz and his wife have two adult children, James and Alexa, and two dogs, Sophie and Sadie.
“The thing I wish people knew about this job is that although it looks uncomplicated from the window, there is so much planning and so many safety considerations that go into getting you to your destination safely,” said Avestruz. “Yes, it looks like we are just putting bags on a belt, but there are weight and position requirements to keep the aircraft balanced in flight. We are also operating equipment near the aircraft fuselage and wings that are filled with fuel! This is definitely a job that is ‘harder than it looks.’”
Avestruz has appreciated and enjoyed working for United Airlines throughout the years. “The PHL Airport is a family community made up of a great group of people that I have been lucky to work with over the years,” said Avestruz.
The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. For more information about the program and to nominate an employee, click here.