WILLIE BLANCO: DEDICATED TO THE WORK AT HAND
The District's one and only Materials and Stores Specialist does it all, singlehandedly!
It seems like nearly everyone at one time or another at District 7, has come in contact with William Blanco, or at least has seen him pulling a heavily loaded hand truck, pushing an overflowing cart or driving a packed forklift. Having done warehouse work most of his life, being the District’s one and only Materials and Stores Specialist is a perfect fit for the nice man everyone calls “Willie.”
Blanco began his Caltrans career as a Warehouse Worker in October 1989 at the Bandini Warehouse under John Sherman (now retired) and Ken Simms who unfortunately passed away. With the experience he had prior to working for Caltrans in inventory control and warehousing for private industry, he was able to cut down the amount of days it took to do inventory from seven days to two and one-half at the Bandini office, saving the state considerable time and money.
After much hard work at Bandini, Blanco was brought into the District Office Building stockroom. After several years there, an opportunity in 1995 led him to leave Caltrans for a position with the Department of Education in Pomona in their food program. But in 2000, as fate would have it, he was back at Caltrans through a promotion to his current classification -- and he’s been doing outstanding property control work ever since.
Working alone and always smiling, warm and friendly, Blanco single-handedly manages surplus property and writes property survey reports for the entire District including all field offices in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. On occasion, he travels to other districts to pick up and deliver property. Monday through Friday, his days are filled with a lot of physically challenging work, like moving office furniture and other state property and equipment, lifting heavy objects, driving forklifts, and coordinating -- a lot of coordinating. He also inputs information into the computer database and assists with conference room setups when needed.
One project that Blanco remembers prominently was the move from 120 South Spring Street to 100 South Main Street, which involved many hours of hard work into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes until 1:30 a.m. He helped to identify and solve problems – no matter what the problem was. His supervisor, Carmen Roberts said that he is a very dedicated worker. “Willie is kindhearted, thorough, dependable, over generous with his time and goes beyond what is expected of him,” Roberts said. “It is a pleasure to know and work with him.” Blanco also repairs workstations, cabinets, chairs and helps replace lost and broken keys.
So many people rely on Blanco because he works alone, except for when an item is just too heavy and then a contracted moving firm is called in to help. “As long as I can walk, I’ll be doing this work,” he said. “It’s physically demanding and it can get hectic at times, but Caltrans people are really nice and I enjoy working with them and helping them.” And Jim Hammer, Deputy District Director for Administration added that Willie can always be found lending a helping hand. “Willie is a humble civil servant. He always seeks opportunities to help others," Hammer said.
Blanco plans to retire in the next few years, but in the meantime, he enjoys his favorite pastime which is collecting and recording music, sometimes unusual and hard-to-find recordings. He’s been have fun doing that since 1959. Some of his favorite types of music are oldies and what he calls “doo-wops” (a special type of oldie), and he make CD’s for friends for no charge whatsoever. “I really get a kick out of seeing people’s faces when I find some rare music they have been looking for. It’s just for fun and enjoyment,” he said.
Some day, Blanco added, he may relocate to the Imperial Valley near El Centro. “It’s ranch country,” he said, “and I enjoy that type of lifestyle.” Until then he continues to enjoy spending free time with his family: his wife, four children and four grandchildren – not to mention his very first classic car, his 1956 Chevy Bel-Aire.
Blanco concluded by saying that the bottom line for his work is that he truly believes in legendary service. “I dedicate my daily work to God, no matter what the job at hand may be,” he added. “And I won’t stop working until the job at hand is done, for God is my strength and it satisfies me to see people happy with my efforts.”