Discover the Secret Behind 40 Years of Perfect Attendance
More than 14,500 days have passed since Ken Peddicord began working at FedEx in 1977. During that time, he witnessed major company milestones, including the introduction of the Overnight Letter in 1981, the ability to track a package online in 1994 and the rebranding of the parent company from Federal Express to FedEx Corporation in 2000.
Peddicord, a ramp agent based outside of Cincinnati, recently reached a milestone of his own: 40 years of perfect attendance.
Find out the secret behind Peddicord’s streak and how a sixth grade sickness started it all.
FedEx: First of all, congrats on your streak! How does it feel to have never missed a day of work in 40 years?
Ken: Right now I’m a little bit sick. Kidding! It feels good. I’ve been blessed to have had many years of good health. Timing is everything. Everyone has their bad days. For me they just happened to fall on a weekend or at the end of my shift. I was able to get through it.
FedEx: What’s the secret?
Ken: My mom set the bar high. She used to work in an elementary school cafeteria for about 30 years. She never missed a day. I think it’s a mindset. If you’re not feeling well in the morning, you believe you’ll feel better the next hour and then the next. I remember waking up [on a weekend] and telling my wife that if today were a work day, there was no way I would have made it. I just got lucky.
FedEx: Was perfect attendance a point of emphasis from the very beginning or did the streak just start to build without any intention behind it?
Ken: I didn’t have a goal to achieve perfect attendance. Back when I was in elementary school, we had teacher in-service days once a year on a Thursday and Friday. I remember my last class before in-service days in sixth grade. I told my teacher I wasn’t feeling well. She took me to another room and gave me a Coke to settle my stomach. I felt guilty [for missing out on class]. I went home that night and got really sick. The next day my mom took me to the doctor, and I had my appendix removed. I haven’t missed a day of anything since then.
FedEx: As the streak grew longer, did you ever start thinking about it? Did that motivate you to keep going?
Ken: FedEx gives awards every year, and there is one for perfect attendance. I have a stack of these awards now. Along the way, people would come up to me and ask if I still had the perfect attendance streak going. That made me aware of it every year. Once I got into the 20-25 year range, I started setting a goal to make it one more year. It was kind of like a one year contract.
FedEx: Do you remember a day or time when you thought you’d have to break the streak?
Ken: I had some sort of bronchial thing one time over the weekend. Every time I would cough, I had pain shooting up my back. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go in if it continued beyond the weekend. I work Tuesday through Saturday. By the time Tuesday rolled around, I felt better. That was the closest call I can remember.
FedEx: For those who don’t know what a ramp agent does, tell us what a typical shift is like. Is it a physical job?
Ken: I’ve been a ramp agent since 1993. I come in around 2:30 a.m. and start setting up. My coworkers and I rotate jobs. Someone is in the building to handle the freight that comes off the aircraft to make sure it gets sorted and sent to the right station on a truck. Someone else is working the flight line and making sure everything out by the aircraft is going well. We do this so that when someone is on vacation, we are all familiar with each other’s jobs. You are pushing cans and containers on scales, weighing them and pushing them on and off dollies. Every once in a while when we sort the freight, you might have to jump in there and handle boxes.
FedEx: Do you think the physical nature of the job has kept you in shape and helped your immune system?
Ken: I’m sure it has. Before I was a ramp agent, I dispatched for 13 years. That was a desk job and involved a lot of sitting. I always said if a ramp agent job opened, I would try and get into that area of work. Fortunately I did. I sit at a desk sometimes, but there is at least a 50/50 split between sitting and moving around.
FedEx: How has FedEx changed since you started in 1977?
Ken: It’s changed so much. In the beginning, I was just looking for a part-time job at the airport while I was going to school. I was hoping to get on with one of the bigger airlines, most of which aren’t even around any longer. It didn’t take long for me to see that FedEx, or Federal Express as it was called back in those days, was an up and coming company. We were growing by leaps and bounds. In Cincinnati we only had one station back then. Our goal was 300 packages a day. We were breaking those records every week and every day and kept expanding. When I first started, we were getting small prop planes and Beechcraft and DC-3s. The Falcons, of course, were the mainstay until Boeing came on. Once that happened, the company took off.
FedEx: Do you have a favorite memory working at FedEx?
Ken: My favorite memory happened back in the 80s when [FedEx founder, Chairman and CEO] Fred Smith came up with the idea for Zapmail. I was able to go around and train people how to use it, how to send a document and everything that went with it. There were four people chosen to go to the Memphis Hub to train people who would serve as support for those in the field. I spent three months in Memphis and sat in on meetings with Fred Smith and many of the VPs. I was just a little guy from Cincinnati and had the chance to see how big the corporation was. It was very impressive. I met Mr. Smith several times, and it was a treat.
FedEx: Any final thoughts for our readers?
Ken: We have a couple [ramp transport] drivers here in Cincinnati whom I’d like to mention. Jim Koester is coming up on 40 years of accident-free driving. Randy Jones is coming up on 35 years of the same. I wanted to give those guys a shout out. I just have to show up to work, but they have to go out there and manage on the road and drive safely. Salute to those guys.
My life has evolved around FedEx. I met my wife at FedEx. We’ve been married for 37 years. I have a daughter, Adrienne (29) and son, Evan (27). It’s been great for my family. Being at FedEx that long, you also get an extended family. You develop special bonds with those people. At [the AGFS ramp outside of Cincinnati], we have a great management team. We all get along and our goal is to deliver the Purple Promise to our customers.