Bartlett celebrates silver anniversary at Physio Control
Twenty-five years is a long time to stay at the same company — and still look forward to each new work day.
On Aug. 5, Herb Bartlett, one of the first developmentally disabled employees at Physio Control in Redmond, was presented with a Superman cake, a plaque and a diamond pin to celebrate his silver anniversary on the job.
Folks who know Bartlett said he’s given them much more than they could ever give to him.
It was 1983 when he first joined Medtronic Emergency Response Systems, working on the assembly line to help build defibrillators; the company’s now known as Physio Control, a division of Medtronic. At that time, it was considered rare to employ a person with Down Syndrome.
But because of his excellent “people skills,” Bartlett later applied, interviewed for and secured a position as a mail carrier at Physio. He enthusiastically and accurately delivers mail to nearly 900 people throughout two maze-like office buildings which public relations manager Anne Devine described as “like a sea of cubicles.”
Bartlett has a knack for remembering names and faces, plus he is “very prompt, always on-time, very optimistic and he brings me the weather (forecasts) every day,” Devine added.
We asked Bartlett if he has a favorite weather man on which he relies for information.
“How about a weather WOMAN?,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye. He admitted a fondness for Rebecca Stevenson.
And he always puts a positive spin on the weather, even on days when it’s dismal, according to Physio facilities manager James Johnson: “Herb reminds people to appreciate the little sliver of sun in the corner or the flowers that will come out because of the rain. That’s indicative of what he brings to Physio. He high-fives everyone, always has something uplifting to say.”
Dave Mentz, vice-president of human resources, pointed out that Bartlett’s invested in the weather because he cares about keeping people’s mail safe and dry. Bartlett remarked that whenever he’s pushing his mail cart outdoors, he focuses on his favorite Roy Rogers song, “Happy Trails to You.”
His cheerfulness rubs off on everyone, said Jennifer Manera, environmental health and safety manager. “You come in after a hard commute and he always says, ‘I’ve got good news!’ It really changes your perspective,” she explained.
The “good news” often includes fun facts about Bartlett’s favorite celebrities.
“He’s really into pop culture like Elvis, Superman and singing cowboys,” said Mary McLaughlin, communications manager.
If you’ve heard of the game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” Bartlett could probably entertain you for hours with his knowledge of common threads between movie stars, rock and rollers, country music singers and U.S. Presidents. He’s won lots of sodas, correctly answering trivia questions that people thought might stump him.
“Ninety-eight percent of the time, his facts are spot-on,” said Johnson.
Mentz added that Bartlett’s influence has not just improved morale for existing staff at Physio Control but has helped with recruitment efforts, too. When Mentz gives prospective employees tours of the facilities, they notice Bartlett and his rapport with his co-workers and they remark, “That’s the kind of company I want to be part of.”
In 2006, Bartlett proudly served on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, advocating for the rights and dignity of other people like himself.
Mary Stevens Decker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (425) 867-0353, ext. 5052.