Seasonal jobs brought more than money to pay the bills

James Hilliard was “a young kid just looking to pay my bills after moving away from home and trying to make it in the real world.” Travis Grabeel needed a job after the motorhome company where he worked closed. Both found jobs as Lowe’s seasonal employees and launched full-time careers with the company. Hilliard is a store manager in Clovis, New Mexico, and Grabeel an assistant operations manager at Lowe’s regional distribution center in Lebanon, Oregon.

This year, Lowe’s is hiring an estimated 45,000 seasonal employees to work during spring and summer – the peak time for homeowners to tackle indoor and outdoor project around the house. When seasonal jobs end, those who are interested could potentially land full-time positions.

James Hilliard

Hilliard was working 25 hours a week folding, tagging and shelving clothes and shoes at a shopping mall store when he noticed a “now hiring” sign in front of the Lowe’s of San Angelo, Texas. He applied and was soon wearing a Lowe’s red vest and serving customers in tools and hardware. “I immediately grew to love the customer aspect of my job and being able to help people find those hard-to-find hardware parts and the right tool for the right job,” Hilliard said.

He was working both part-time jobs and within nine months, saw a full-time Lowe’s opportunity available – team leader in tools. The next eight years led Hilliard on a career journey through department manager, zone manager and assistant manager.

Hilliard was living in a Texas town rich with oil deposits and was offered an opportunity to join his friends in that industry. He left Lowe’s, and for the next year, he worked on a crew of four using explosives to drill holes 500 to 1,000 feet into the Earth.

“A year to the day I left Lowe’s, I had my first child. I came home one night to realize that I had spent only seven days with my new little girl and she was already 3 months old. That’s when I made the great decision to try to make my way back up the ladder at the company that originally gave me great opportunities,” said Hilliard, now a store manager entering his 12th year with Lowe’s.

Finding a home at distribution center

Travis Grabeel (right) talks with a colleague

Opportunities drove Grabeel, too. His first job was loading trucks as a seasonal shipping team member. “I knew it was a pretty good company that cared about its people, but I was surprised at the atmosphere,” Grabeel said.

His home – Sweet Home, Oregon, a town of about 9,000 residents – was a short drive from the regional distribution center. Being near family was important to him, his wife and two children, so when his seasonal job ended, he applied for a full-time position in shipping.

That job was the first of several steps toward his current job as assistant operations manager. He’s worked as performance instructor, a night shift coach and operations coach on a weekend shift and in the appliance department. In April, he’ll celebrate his eighth anniversary with Lowe’s.

“I’ve had many people teaching me and helping me along the way,” Grabeel said. “Now, I have the same love and passion for people that was shown to me when I started as a seasonal employee in 2009.”

Both he and Hilliard enjoy sharing their personal career journeys when they are interviewing candidates for seasonal positions. When Grabeel gives advice to new employees, he shares three things: Keep an open mind. Listen to get different perspectives. And persevere.

Hilliard says he gets goosebumps when he thinks about the company he works for and the support he’s received from others.

“Lowe’s has proven to me that with hard work, dedication and a heart hungry to serve people, anyone can achieve great things,” Hilliard said. “What was once just a seasonal job to help pay my bills and college tuition has become a vital and joyful career.”

What was once just a seasonal job to help pay my bills and college tuition has become a vital and joyful career.
—James Hilliard, store manager, Clovis, New Mexico

To learn more about seasonal positions available at Lowe’s, visit lowes.com/careers.