Guest Blog Series: Six Lessons on My First Six Months in the Industry
We’re never too old to learn something new.
I’ve spent the past 29 years of my life in the document management industry. The easy thing to do would have been to stick with it a few more years and retire. As my friends and family will attest, doing something the easy way doesn’t seem to be in my DNA. About the time I was looking for a change, I was presented with the opportunity to join Tomo Drug Testing as VP of Business Growth. After meeting the Tomo team, it was an easy decision to make the change, and I proudly became a part of the leadership team in December of 2016.
So, fast forward six months. Now I’m given the assignment to write a 500-700 word blog post explaining what I have learned so far. Not possible. It would be easier to write a book. However, since nobody would care to read it, I’m going to do my best to highlight lessons learned and hopefully give you a new perspective, too.
My First Lesson – Wow . . . This company and these people are amazing (and so are their clients)!
During the interview process, I was told that Tomo is in the business of creating “Raving Fans.” Honestly, I was like, “Okay, sounds good . . . we’ll see.” All the while I’m thinking, “How hard can it be to be good at getting people to pee in a cup?” It wasn’t until I spent some time with Project Administration and Testing that I learned about how a new client is set up in the system, donor lists are created, random lists are generated, scheduling of donors and collectors – all of the processes and procedures that go into getting an unadulterated sample, not to mention all of the documentation in collecting and then communicating accurate information to the lab.
That’s just half of it. I haven’t even mentioned the involvement of medical review officers (MROs), the confirmation process, and even what has to be done with the test results. All of this to say . . . I stand corrected. Tomo Drug Testing has been in business for over 25 years for a reason. During this time, they have designed a process called the Tomo Way that creates “Raving Fans.” Over 2,000 of them. Literally.
Second Lesson – We aren’t in business to “bust people.”
Drug and alcohol testing seems to have a negative stigma attached to it for trying to bust people for doing drugs. Well, I’ve been here six months and I haven’t seen anyone leave in cuffs and a police car yet. To the contrary, drug testing is simply a tool to help employers provide a safe work environment for their employees. The tool is most commonly used as a pre-employment screening process and then randomly introduced to assist in maintaining a drug-free workplace.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires operators of large commercial vehicles (trucks and buses) to be tested for drugs periodically too. Let’s face it: There are enough dangers on our roadways with traffic, texting, and other distractions. We don’t need to compound the problem with drug-impaired drivers cruising around in 80,000-pound vehicles. Therefore, Tomo offers DOT-approved testing programs either tailored for the larger client or available as consortium for the smaller ones.
Third Lesson – It’s not just about the workplace.
Wouldn’t you like to give your child one more reason to “Say No to Drugs”? I never realized until I started working at Tomo that many of our high school students are actually in favor of drug testing. Surveys indicate that students have actually said no to drugs because of fear of testing positive in their school’s testing program.
Fourth Lesson – Our veterans.
Another eye-opener for me was the effects of drugs on America’s heroes. Our veterans often become drug dependent due to mental and/or physical injury while serving our country, or after coming home. Oftentimes these dependencies become so severe that our service men and women have trouble adjusting to civilian life and find themselves in legal trouble. Veterans Court is a program designed to help them get reacclimated to civilian life. Tomo is there to provide testing, which serves as an accountability tool and a way to benchmark their success. One of my goals over the next six months is to attend one of the Veterans Court graduation ceremonies. I can only imagine what a proud event that must be.
Fifth Lesson – Here comes the judge!
Ok. Now you did it, and the judge sentences you to jail. For doing drugs? Not necessarily. More than likely it is for what you did to buy the drugs. Another lesson learned for me. I assumed that most criminals behind bars were in there for doing drugs. Not the case. Many are in our prison system for breaking into cars, home, businesses, etc. to steal things to sell to get the money to buy drugs.
Well, fortunately for the state of Missouri, we have a judge down in Stone County who is a huge proponent of treatment court (a.k.a. Drug Court). Long story short, he and many like him have found the value of creating programs to help these offenders get their lives back on track through rehabilitation programs. Here is another area where Tomo is creating raving fans by providing court-ordered testing services for many of the district courts around the state. None of us are naive, and we know the participants are going to fail some of the drug tests. I’ve learned that’s ok. What’s important is that the failures become fewer and farther in between. Eventually, we are celebrating individuals graduating from the programs and becoming productive citizens. Tomo can’t run their race, but we can certainly do our part to help and ultimately cheer them on from the sidelines.
Sixth Lesson – Stop talking when your audience is nodding off!
I have so many other lessons I want to tell you about. Lessons like the effects of prescription drug abuse, the story of a drug bust at a nursing home, the great stuff we are doing in the state of Indiana for Department of Child Services, and how I joined a coalition in my hometown to help those facing dependency . . . just to name a few.
Bottomline, drugs affect us all. Some positive, some negative. Tomo Drug Testing is just one tool available to help our workplace and our community strike a balance. I hope you join me in the future as I share the lessons I learn as I move forward in my new career.
I’m John Elkins, the new VP of Business Growth at Tomo Drug Testing. Prior to joining Tomo, I spent the past 29 years in my family’s document management company. The approximately 650 employees of EDCO Health Information Solutions, based in Springfield, MO, provided document scanning and underground storage solutions for hospitals and large non-healthcare clients across the country. In addition to traditional document management services, EDCO also owned and operated a small private fleet of trucks of which they were their own best customer. On a personal note, I grew up on a farm in Ozark, Missouri. My family raised registered Black Angus cattle, trained horses professionally, and grew and sold quality livestock hay and forages. Although the farm has gone from production to more of a maintenance mode, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up there and raise my two kids on the same family farm.