A 42 Year Career Creating Custom Vehicles

Employee feature: Rick Zinnen

Highlighting an employee’s lengthy career and their contributions to our company is tough. Where do we begin? What memories do we share? What projects do we talk about? These questions are even tougher when an individual has been employed here almost as long as I have been alive: forty-two and a half years to be exact.

Even though we are showcasing Special Service Vehicles Sales Specialist, Rick Zinnen, today’s blog is a who’s who of forty-year LDV veterans: People committed to their jobs and their co-workers, building the best custom vehicles in the world.

And Rick has worked with all of them.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

When Rick applied for a temporary position in our Detail Department over 40 years ago, he never envisioned it was the beginning of a lengthy career here. Rick’s older brother Leo was already working at LDV building Snap-on Tool Trucks. So he is responsible for the start of Rick’s long career, in a sense.

“He was looking for a part time job to make some money while he was in school. I mentioned it to him and he applied. The rest is history,” Leo told us.

Leo himself is part of the 45 year club of loyal employees still working for us.

Rick started in Detail washing and prepping finished tool trucks for our customers.

“In those days, we hadn’t started building anything outside of tool trucks,” he told us. “The trucks were much less complex than they are today.”

Rick worked as a Detailer for a few months before transitioning over to the Generator Shop with yet another long term LDV employee, Mike “Spike” Soeth. Several Soeths have worked for us over the past 50 years and all of them long term hires.

“Spike (Soeth) and I were installing all of the generators in tool trucks. We also worked on a build crew installing interiors. Other than drawer sections, the build crews built and installed everything in the trucks back then,” Rick said.

The Know-it-Alls

Being a Builder in the early days meant being skillful in many different areas including electrical, woodworking, fabrication and more. A few Builders would create the interior of the truck from start to finish. Looking back, it was incredible that these talented individuals could perform so many different job duties.

After a few years on the shop floor, Rick moved into an engineering role in the early 1990s. He was responsible for the wiring schematics including AC and DC, audio-visual, 2-way radio antenna placement and more. This was after LDV branched into a few new markets including law enforcement vehicles and called that division, “Business on Wheels.” He referenced the use of some early technology that enabled faxing from a vehicle that was considered cutting edge at the time. We were still in the age of analog then and LDV was installing tube televisions in our special service vehicles. Flat screens, satellite downlinks, cellular modems, IP cameras and networking equipment were not yet available.

The Business on Wheels unit transitioned to our Special Service Vehicles (SSV) division where Rick worked in Project Management and then Technical Sales, writing specifications for the custom vehicles we were designing. Ultimately, he would move into his current Sales Specialist role where he has worked for over 16 years.

Working as a Sales Specialist has been his favorite position to date, he tells us.

“I really like my customers. I have developed a lot of great relationships with them. We build a really cool product that helps many people do their job as efficiently as possible,” Rick told us.

He enjoys talking with his customers often and learning how their custom vehicles are being utilized are a few highlights of his current role within the company.

So What’s Next?

As Rick transitions into retirement, he is going to be busy.

<strong>“I already offered to attend a few upcoming tradeshows for LDV. It will be great to be able to introduce the new rep to current and future customers as I step back. It will also be cool to take in a bit of the show. Typically, we are busy in our booth showing the vehicle that we have on display.”

In addition, he has some really important duties lined up like spending more time with his grandkids, riding his E-bike and dusting off his fishing rods.

“My wife and I have a trip planned to North Carolina and are looking forward to exploring lots of new places in the US and abroad. We’ll also do a lot of boating this summer,” Rick mentioned.

Rick has already acknowledged that his retirement will be an on-going process.

“I’m committed to my customers and their trucks,” he said. “I never lose sleep worrying if a truck is going to be built the way my customer expects it to be. The LDV team is the best there is, so transitioning into retirement will happen after some of these projects are completed.”

It’s hard to say exactly when Rick’s last day will be but we appreciate all of his years of loyal service and we know his customers do too. If you are a current or former customer of Rick’s, feel free to reach out. He would like to hear from all of you.

All the best Rick!