Spotlight: David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt

employee spotlight: david leonhardt

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer

David Leonhardt came to work at the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) by way of the car rental facility. He and his wife have been here since December 2015 and now have a young son who was born here last year. David was born and raised in Morganton, a western North Carolina mountain town. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and then took a job in the logistics industry in Savannah, Georgia. He met his wife there, and they decided to jump on an opportunity for a bit of adventure and moved to Iwakuni.

Now that they’re here, David is a member of the MCCS family where he’s creating cohesiveness within the Retail & Services staff as well as with other activities across our organization. Our retail and services cover everything from merchandise at the MCX to facilities like the Hangar or Crossroads Food Court. We were able to steal a minute of his time to get his thoughts on MCCS, living in Iwakuni, and helping the community in every way possible when it comes to retail and services.

What is your position at the MCX?

As the Retail & Services Administrative Specialist at times I am like a liaison. A majority of my time is devoted to the retail side, mostly because my office is at the MCX. That doesn’t mean I don’t do a lot for services and a lot of times I’m the point of contact for many of the other divisions inside of MCCS. I try to facilitate things to get them done by assisting managers and employees. My work is not customer facing, though. I do the work behind the scenes to make sure that employees and managers have everything they need to get their jobs accomplished.

Tell me a little about the team that you work with at the MCX?

I work mainly with the Chief of Retail & Services, Roycelyn Rausch, MCX store managers, our employees in the store, and the various managers within MCCS.

How much has staffing increased at the MCX and how does that positively affect the community’s experience in the store?

That’s been a big focus for not only the Retail & Services division but the entire MCCS as a whole. The more associates we have in the store, trained, up to speed, and in front of customers or stocking shelves, it turns into a huge win for the community. When these positions are filled, and we’re not spread thin, we can better serve the customer. You can really see the wheels moving when we have enough associates to help the customers that are coming in the door. There are days when we get merchandise from the warehouse and have pallets on top of pallets on the second floor. There are associates stocking shelves, and you can see that the customers are happy to see the shelves being stocked. The customer feels like, “Okay, they’re doing everything they can to get these products on the shelves and get us what we need.”

What is your most significant accomplishment to date?

There wasn’t someone in this position before me when I got here. Essentially, there was no one to train me. I know that’s the case for other MCCS positions, too. Many employees throw themselves into the position and learn by on the job training. I am proud of the way I jumped in here and learned all the aspects of how to do my job. Not only in retail but all of the services facilities, too. I made myself aware of all of the other businesses and how they operate. Another big aspect is strengthening the relationships with the other divisions inside of MCCS. I didn’t know anyone when I first started, so I just went to the different offices, introduced myself, and saw how they got things done. I hope a lot of the other departments see me the same way. When someone comes to me, if I can’t do it myself, I’ll get them the answer. We’ll make sure the things get done.

What challenges do you face in your position?

Outside of some of the staffing issues that we’re tackling head-on, some challenges are with the multicultural workforce that we have; understanding the Japanese culture and their work ethic. It’s a good challenge to have because we’re all learning something new along the way. Recently, we hired a few new Japanese employees, and we ended up learning so much from each other.

When you’re not at work, what do you do to occupy your free time here in Iwakuni?

When my wife and I first got to Iwakuni, we were big into soaking in the culture and visiting and exploring everything we could. We were taking the IT&T trips and traveling, getting outdoors, and hiking. We had our son over here last year, so it’s a little tougher to travel now. He’s a good traveler though, and it’s just some extra challenges thrown in there having a child involved in our adventures. We like to get outside to see and do as much as we can around here.

From your perspective, what improvements has the MCX made in answering the demands of the community?

When our brand new Chief of Retail & Services got on board, she came with such a wealth of experience in retail and was able to see some things that maybe we didn’t see just because we’re so engulfed by our work on a daily basis. The new perspective changed working with employees to customer service. I’m working with our warehouse and our headquarters buyers to make sure we’re getting the products that are needed and getting them here in a timely fashion. I’m helping in revitalizing the culture of the MCX to one where our employees want to come in and be happy to work and be happy to know that they’re serving the greatest customer.

What are your thoughts and feelings on the opening of the new MCX next year?

The new MCX is on the top of a lot of people’s list right now. Seeing the progress from the teardown of the old commissary to where they are today is just amazing. It’s something that a lot of people are very excited about and should be; it’s going to be the largest exchange in the Marine Corps. It will give the Retail & Services department the opportunity to better serve our customer, have more space, more products, newer products, and some new services that I think the customers will be really excited about.

What exciting events are coming up in the near future from the MCX?

We’re doing our inventory in August instead of in January; right after holidays. We just finished the Spring Bazaar, and after the inventory is over in August, we’ll be looking at the holiday season where the focus will be on Black Friday, Christmas, and the Fall Bazaar. Right after the turn of the year, we’ll do the key turnover for the new exchange and planning for our grand opening for March.