Department of Aviation Custodial Worker II Tyrek Rouse recently received the “Unsung Heroes” award from Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program. The program 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.
At PHL, Rouse upholds the cleanliness of the airport terminals. He’s been at PHL for nearly six years and works the overnight 10 p.m.– 6 a.m. shift. “The most meaningful part of my job is being a comforting figure for passengers that are lost or are nervous about flying,” he said. “We work at night, and the airport is normally empty, so we’re really like the frontline of customer service.”
Rouse continuously demonstrates values of customer-centrism, prioritizing passenger needs, teamwork, transcending expectations, proactive communication, effectiveness, respect, integrity, and courage.
In her nomination of Rouse, Director of Guest Experience Leah Douglas stated, “Tyrek has been observed on two occasions working in Terminal A-West, both at Gate A18. On the first occasion I was with Barbara Calise, we were walking the terminal. She stopped in her tracks, noticing Tyrek vacuuming the carpet in the hold room. She was so impressed by Tyrek that she walked over to tell him how much she admired his work ethic. The second time, I was on-site assisting with installing the new furnishings. Tyrek was working hard to remove gum remnants from the carpet, a task I have never observed by any team member, including airline contractors. I introduced myself, and at the same time, Mark Daniels approached us. He too vouched for Tyrek's exemplary dedication, willingness to go above and beyond, and overall good spirit.”
When Rouse first arrived at PHL, he appreciated the aviation environment. “I enjoy the atmosphere,” he said. “I’m not a person who enjoys crowds, but when I first arrived, this place was like a huge amusement park. Before this job, I had never been here, so seeing how things function and the planes and their operation made me excited about coming to work.”
Over the years, Rouse has appreciated what he’s learned from his coworkers. “I’ve picked up things from my former floor team member Wilburs Mobely, who retired,” he said. “I learned how to use equipment and pay attention to detail when getting scuff marks up of the terrazzo with a floor scrapper, how to evaluate different floors, and how to go into cleaning them.”
In her nomination of Rouse, Custodial Crew Chief Monique Glinton stated, “Tyrek is part of the floor team and comes out to help the shorthanded areas when needed. He goes above and beyond every single time, no matter what he’s assigned. He is very helpful to passengers and wants everyone to have a pleasant, clean experience at the airport, no matter his shift. He is always full of ideas and questions to make things work. He is a great asset to the airport and my team. I thank him for all that he does at the airport.”
Rouse appreciates and respects the custodial team he works for and all the skills they bring. “Our unit is like an all-star team,” he said. “We have somebody good at everything. We have a person great at scrubbing, setting up and breaking down equipment, detailing, problem-solving and finding alternative solutions, and blocking off work areas. It’s like a well-oiled machine. When we begin an assignment, everybody goes and does what they do best, and my team lets me be me.”
Rouse enjoys the strong friendships he’s been able to make at PHL. “I love that my right-hand man Joshua Hutchins lets me paint on a blank canvas when working and trusts my judgment. He believes in my craft. It’s easing to the mind to have somebody who sees and shares the same work values.”
Before coming to work, Rouse asks himself “’how hard am I going to work today?”. He credits his mother for instilling this strong work ethic within him.
One of his most memorable moments he recalls is when he assisted a frantic international passenger during his overnight shift. Rouse calmed her down, bought her an item from a vending machine, and directed her to PHL’s white courtesy phone. After the woman was able to contact her daughter and arrange her flight for the next day, Rouse escorted her to her airport shuttle bus. “What I remember the most about that encounter is how worked up she was from the beginning and how calm she was by the end,” he said. “I hope I had something to do with that. She called me an angel, which struck gold in my heart because I didn’t feel deserving of that title. I was doing what I thought was right.”
Rouse has lived in Philadelphia his whole life and believes that it’s shaped who he is as a person. “Growing up in North Philly molded me with the personality I have now,” he said. “Philly is beautiful. I began to enjoy the attractions I knew about and a lot I didn’t in 2020 when things shut down and all you could do was go outside.”
Rouse is proud of the work he and his team do daily to ensure PHL remains a global gateway to the world. “I aim to show people a different view of a custodian they may have never seen before,” he said. “I love doing special projects normally with my floor team member Joshua Hutchins. Things like spinning and extracting carpets at the departure gates, removing gum, and cleaning floors. My job is all worth it when I hear the appreciation in the voices of the people we help.”
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.