Host Agency, Operations Manager, Mobile, AL
Operations Manager Alec May had his first job at the age of 14, when he started a lawn care business in his neighborhood to support his motocross hobby. “I’ve done motocross, enduro…I’ve ridden horses and bulls. If it can be ridden, I’ve ridden it,” Alec says in his signature Alabama drawl.
Alec doesn’t like to be bored. He mowed lawns until he was 16, then worked as a construction worker, roofer, bouncer, plane fueler, used car salesman, prep cook, caterer, and maintenance man. Some time in his early twenties, while he was slinging 100-pound sacks of beans and rice in a warehouse during the week, he offered to deckhand for someone’s weekend fishing trip. During the excursion, one of the men looked at Alec, and asked, “What are you planning to do with your life?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. “Nothing keeps my interest.”
“Well I’ve got the job for you,” the man said. As luck would have it, Alec was talking to the then president of the Maritime Steamship Association.
Alec followed the gentleman’s directions and went to a ship agency office in Mobile that was hiring. Alec got the job and finally met his match. Twenty-one years later, the maritime industry still holds his interest. He has worked at three different agencies, holding management positions at each one and working every port from Tampa, Florida to Brownsville, Texas.
Alec first heard of Host from his best friend, New Orleans Operations Manager Chris Kitsos, who was working for NSA Agency when it was purchased by Host. “I didn’t know much about Host, and I wasn’t sure what this meant for my buddy, so I called to offer my support and a possible job at the company I was with if he was interested,” he says. “But boy did Chris turn THAT conversation around! He pushed for me to take a job at Host! I was pretty happy where I was, but Chris said, ‘Host is the kind of company for you, Alec. Just go talk to them.’ I didn’t think I’d want to make the switch, but I trust Chris a lot, so I went.”
After talking to Host’s president for a half hour, Alec knew Chris was right. Host was the place for him. “It’s a very hands-on company,” he says. “You get to do a lot of different things. You better do your job well, but if there’s something new or different that needs to be done, they’ll utilize your skills if you’re interested and give you a shot. It’s a huge confidence booster every time you get to tackle a new challenge. I learned more in my first three years at Host than I learned in ten years at my last company.”
Alec says a big part of agency operations management is “just keeping it real, man! You have to keep good relationships with everyone,” he says. “I like to go visit our principals, pilots, vendors, and the ports as much as I can. I love having a connection with people all over the port, and the world, for that matter. It’s not just a job. It’s a way of life.” Other than that, he really enjoys being in the trenches with the agents. “I lead by example. You have to give support to get support. I can’t just sit back and watch them do all the work. I like being in the grind!”
With his motocross days long over, Alec says “I’m riding the Host wave now, and it’s one heck of a ride. That’s for dang sure.”