AEO Pride Spotlight: Nate, Supervisor of Distribution Center Operations

At AEO, we celebrate the diversity of one through the inclusion of many. Throughout the month of June, we will be celebrating associates who are members of the LGBTQ+ community – highlighting their accomplishments, learning about their unique roles and hearing about their experience at AEO!

Nate has been a member of the Ottawa, Kansas Distribution Center family for 8 years. Prior to his role as Supervisor of Distribution Center Operations at AEO Inc., Nate spent over 5 years in the U.S Army – starting out as a Platoon Leader and working up to become a Squadron Special Projects Officer. Throughout his time at AEO, he has learned the importance of living authentically and having a supportive network day in and day out.

Q. Tell us about your role as a Supervisor of Operations. What do you do day in and day out?
As an Ops Supervisor, I’m responsible for the leadership, training, and development of a 48 person team who are focused on picking product, inventory movement, and location management. The goal of the team is to manage inventory moving through the distribution center. Throughout my time at AEO, I have supervised multiple departments- from Direct to Consumer to the Retail side of distribution.

Q. What is one career milestone at AEO that you’re really proud of?
Back in 2015, all returns were processed during the Daylight Shift. I saw that there was an opportunity to maximize inventory flow by also processing returns during the Evening Shift. I was able to mobilize and stand up the first Returns Department during the Evening Shift. This has allowed us to meet the customer’s needs even faster!

Q. How does AEO help you live your REAL self?
I started working for AEO two months after I left the U.S. Army. I was slowly becoming comfortable with becoming a civilian as well as working towards officially coming out as a gay man. After meeting so many associates and peers who were just like me at the Ottawa DC, I knew that I would be accepted both personally and professionally at work. AEO is the first professional organization where I’ve felt that I don’t have to put a face on to hide who I really am. After all of my time in the military, this was (and still is) a relief for me. I actually came out at work before I ever came out to my family. If I remember correctly I believe I starting telling folks at work in December of 2012, so three months after I had started with AEO. I didn’t tell my family until early February 2013. Nowadays, associates regularly ask me how my partner Steve and our dachshund puppies are doing. So to me, the fact that I can simply be myself and everyone around me is aware of it and comfortable is how AEO helps me to live my real self.

Q. What does “Pride” mean to you?
More than ever, Pride means being authentic and comfortable in your own skin. Pride also means staying true to one’s self and your beliefs. To me, Pride is all about recognizing and celebrating the beauty that is diversity while promoting an inclusive community that welcomes everyone. We celebrate Pride month to acknowledge the collective achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. I believe that each year we see continued progress, but we certainly have much more work to do to increase visibility and reduce the marginalization of both POC and the LGBTQ+ communities.