“One thing that led me to Shaw was shortly after I had gotten out of [military] service, I was looking for a job and stumbled upon a family-owned nutrition company,” said Micah Pye, talent acquisition specialist, Shaw. “After a few months, I realized that I wanted to grow with a company that not only valued veterans, but valued growth opportunities.”

Pye served in the U.S. Marines as a F-18 mechanic for four years. Following his service, he came onboard with Shaw, working to recruit their current and future workforce. As part of that role, he has the opportunity to help military veterans with job placement through the company’s Shaw Vet program. 

Shaw supports military veterans in other ways too. Homes for Our Troops provides ADA-compliant houses for disabled veterans and their families. This year, Shaw is launching Hiring for Our Heroes, a program designed to assist veterans with translating their military skills into career-applied skills and providing them with job shadowing opportunities.

FCI sat down with Pye to learn more about his military experience, his challenges re-integrating into civilian life and how Shaw helped him find a career. He tells us how he is using his military experience to help others successfully navigate a career and how the programs Shaw has implemented support other veterans. 

The following are excerpts of our conversation, which you can listen to in its entirety at floortrendsmag.com/podcasts.  

FCI: How did you find your way to the Marines?

Pye: Before I turned 18, I got my Eagle Scout*. Then, a few months after that I graduated high school. From there, like anybody else, I tried to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up. 

I worked at a restaurant and was planning to go to school at the same time. I looked at the price of tuition and realized how expensive it was. I always had a knack for the military, and that was something I valued and respected. That's when I realized that's something I definitely want to do. While I may not make a career out of it, that's an opportunity I'd like to pursue. And then from there, me being who I am, I want the best, I want the toughest that I can get, and that's what led me to join the Marine Corps. I felt like it would give me the best training, it would be the toughest, and I would get the most value added.

*This is the highest achievement within The Boy Scouts of America. Very few achieve this ranking.

FCI: What did you do while you were in the Marines?

Pye: Like everybody else, I went through a lot of basic training and schooling. For the first year, I probably lived in six or seven different states before I got stationed in Buford, South Carolina. That was what I called the fleet. That was when you're actually doing your job. There's no more schooling. It's hands-on, on-the-job training. From there, we traveled every two months. I was gone to either a small detachment or in 2013, we went on our first deployment.

FCI: Where did you deploy to?

Pye: In 2013, we were actually headed towards Afghanistan, but North Korea was shooting off some ballistic missiles into the ocean, so they quickly reverted us to Japan. We were based out of Iwakuni, Japan and after about six months, we were able to travel a little bit more. It was still military related, but we got to see places like Guam, Hawaii, Wake Island. [There are] some very nice, beautiful tropical places out there and then some other places that are just not so fun to look at.

FCI: Tell me more about what you did once you returned from your deployment. 

Pye: I only went on that one deployment. My unit was scheduled to deploy again, but I did not have enough time and service to go on that deployment because I was getting out in about two months. But I did travel to other places like El Centro, California where we did small detachments for certain training missions. I did one famous one. They always call it WTI. That's near Yuma, Arizona. So, we did a lot of training out there as well, and we definitely got to visit and enjoy it on the weekends when they let you go out and see the town. 

FCI: Once you get out, the military offers services to help you transition back into civilian life, but I don't think everyone takes advantage of those resources every time. How did you utilize those?

Pye: I'm probably one of those who didn't utilize all of those services. I was only given a week's worth of civilian training, and after that, they just kind of sent me on to the civilian world. So, I was blind for the first couple of months. I didn't really know what to do. I enjoyed my little couple of months of vacation before I saw employment, but a lot of it was just trying to figure it out. I talked to some friends who had served before—former veterans. I stumbled along the way until I came upon Shaw Industries. 

From there, I was given a lot of guidance. Shaw has a lot of really personable veterans who are here to help you grow and to help you not only grow in your career path but grow as a person. They can help you seek those services that you might need as far as something like mental health or just a good resource to go to, even getting a VA home loan, something just as simple as that or a compensation increase. I've had a lot of good advocates here at Shaw to help me with that in my professional and personal career.

FCI: Let's talk more about your role. I understand what a recruiter does, but within that role, you also work with a lot of veterans. 

Pye: Part of being a recruiter is, I recruit to everybody, but I'm a little biased toward veterans. I also know what it's like coming out of the military and not knowing how to structure a résumé. That's one simple thing I think we do very well here at Shaw. When we see that military veteran, myself and along with some other recruiters, we can help them restructure that such as a weapon specialist. There's a lot of us that have shot a lot of guns. It's just translating that military terminology to civilian. 

But one thing that I do as far as recruiting is not only do I help veterans do that, I help link them with our Shaw Vet committee. Now, Shaw Vet is one of our associate resource groups also known as an ARG Group, and we support those who have served or we support those family members. Whether it be a spouse, a parent, a child, we help support them in that aspect as well. Shaw Vet is growing as our veterans are growing too, and we learn more about each veteran every day.

Shaw Vet Committee
(Center) Micah Pye and the Shaw Vet team help military veterans with job placement. Photo: Shaw.

FCI: Let's talk more about how you would help each member in the family. So, how do you help children? 

Pye: So for children, we have all kinds of health resources such as talking to a mental health counselor, or we have certain scholarships that we offer as well. Whether it be a dependent scholarship or something to do with the military. We also help be that resource for a work/life balance, and we can offer all those types of services.

FCI: Now, what about a spouse?

Pye: It would be something very similar. Also, for those family members that have loved ones or someone they know that is deployed. We're very involved with those that are deployed, and we can send them care packages. We can send your unit care packages and help just be an advocate—be a supporting resource.

FCI: What other resources does Shaw offer?

Pye: Another good thing about Shaw is that we work with a company called Homes for Our Troops. It's more of a partnership. We help with the Shaw Flooring aspect. We've been helping them since 2004. They build houses for veterans who are disabled and need ADA compliance. The last facility that they built had over 40 adaptations just for ADA compliance. It's a 2,800-square-foot house, three bedrooms and two baths. They've built over 350 homes since post-911. 

Another partnership we have is Hiring for Our Heroes. Essentially, we work with our U.S. Government and for those military service women or men who want to seek further growth, either in their field or just go a different career path as soon as they get out. We have that partnership, and we can give you a shadow program. It's several weeks long, but essentially you show us what jobs you might be interested in, and we see how we can work with you and get you that job shadow. When that program is done, you can apply for that job or apply for one equivalent. So, that's something new that we're trying to roll out this year. We're very excited about that, and excited to see what new opportunities that it brings us.

FCI: Essentially, you're creating the support that you really didn't have when you came out of the military.

Pye: That’s correct. When I first applied, as an F-18 mechanic—it sounds great and everyone in the military knows exactly what I'm talking about. But when you go for that interview, they have no idea what an F-18 mechanic did; they have no idea what a rifleman does. They see what's on TV or on Google or maybe they know of somebody firsthand who might have went through it. But it's very challenging, and that's something that I'm trying to help, along with Shaw, to create that smooth transition. Not only can we help you transition into a new career, but we can also help you grow within that career and hopefully you'll retire with us one day.

FCI: How important is it for the flooring industry to offer these career opportunities to the veteran community?

Pye: I think it's extremely important to work with veterans. We understand where you come from whether it be an F-18 mechanic, a cook or you're on the front line. We understand here at Shaw, and we can relate. We have that good team to help you grow and help you transition. There a lot of benefits with that. You can always count on a veteran. We're always going to be 15 minutes early. We're not going to be late. We're always going to come dressed nice. But the best thing about veterans is that we always try to exceed expectations. We don't shoot for the bare minimum goal. We always aim for the highest, because I think it's better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit.

FCI: What difference does all of this make for a military veteran in their lives to have this support and be able to get into a career that you’re proud of? What does that really mean? 

Pye: It can be life-changing. I can speak personally. Shaw Industries has changed not only my life, but my wife and my two kids’ lives. They have helped me grow as a person and in my career. I started on the floor, went to management and after management became a recruiter. Not many places allow you that opportunity to do that and be successful. But Shaw Industries does, and I believe that Shaw makes not only an impact on the veterans, but those veterans make an impact on Shaw.