James Opitz doesn't have to worry about his employer, Basin Transload LLC, an affiliate of midstream logistics and marketing company Global Partners LP, supporting him being a soldier in the North Dakota National Guard.
Employer support is important to all members of the Guard and Reserves, but even more so for Opitz, who works in Columbus and lives in West Fargo.
Opitz works a week straight, being 360 miles away from his wife and five children, and then gets a week off to return to his home. In between work and family life, he also needs time to serve his country. Opitz is a staff sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Fargo.
Basin Transload LLC, in Columbus received the Patriot Award from the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve. From the left are: Jim Cooper, foreman; James Opitz, employee and Guardsman who nominated the company; Virgil Rude, ESGR volunteer; Troy Ramage, site manager; and Sheree Hawkins, assistant manager.
"They are very flexible with me and I have never had a problem getting time off," Opitz said.
Opitz is so happy with the support his bosses have given him that he nominated the company for the Patriot Award through the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve. Basin Transload LLC received the award Sept. 27.
The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed. ESGR is a Department of Defense office with volunteers nationwide that promote cooperation and understanding between soldiers in the Guard and Reserves and their employers.
One thing that attracted Opitz to the job with Basin Transload was that the company actually seeks out employees with military experience. Opitz said some other employers he had called about a job were hesitant about him having to take time off for Guard duties.
Troy Ramage, site manager of Basin Transload in Columbus, recalls Opitz first telling him during the job interview that he would need time off for Guard duty. "The first thing I said after he told me was 'thank you for serving,'" Ramage said.
Basin Transload, which runs an operation taking oil brought in by trucks and loading it onto trains, would like to hire even more soldiers. The company is registered on the Hero to Hired website (h2h.jobs), which is designed to help people with military experience find jobs. The company currently has 25 employees and is growing. It also has a facility in Beulah.
Ramage said Opitz's military experience shows because he is reliable, on time and hard working.
"He's very solid and he is always there when we need him," Ramage said. "We try to make whatever adjustments we can to make it easier for him, and it has paid dividends for us too."