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Next destination: Education administration to administering high-level customer care

Charlotte Customer Service Agent T.C. Dunlap knows the value of hard work, which he has carried with him from his early days on his family’s farm. With years of farm work and 39 years working in education administration, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his current role as it relates to safely completing the task, communicating with people, finding solutions to problems and providing the best service possible.

T.C. grew up on his family’s 1,000-acre farm in York, South Carolina where he helped tend to the farm’s turkeys, hogs, beef cattle and crops from a very young age. “I got my work ethic from my Dad who taught me the value of hard work,” says T.C. As a young man, he enjoyed watching planes take off and land and aspired to be a pilot. At age 16, he took flight lessons and flew his first solo flight. “I wanted to become a commercial pilot, but I am colorblind which kept me from a flying career,” shares T.C.

T.C. decided to pursue a teaching career instead. He is proud to say that he earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in two and a half years from Winthrop College. While attending school, he worked at Sears to pay for college and helped on the farm.

After graduating college, he moved to Gastonia, North Carolina and taught fifth grade students. “Back then it was different than today, I had 38 children in my classroom all by myself,” shares T.C. After teaching for three years, T.C. was offered the assistant principal position at the school, which he accepted. Two years later, he accepted a position as principal at a school in Draper, Virginia. During this time, he earned his master’s degree in Administration and Supervision within one year. He returned to Gaston County, North Carolina to be the principal at a school for children with special needs. In 2014, he retired after a 39-year education career.

After retirement, he decided he wanted a job in aviation. “I applied for the ramp agent position with Piedmont in Charlotte, but they wanted me to work the gate because the recruiter thought I was a better fit there,” T.C. jokingly shares. He joined Piedmont in May 2015 as a gate agent to assist training the current gate agents on the new Qik computer system.  He transferred to the ramp in November 2015 and became a Customer Service Agent one year later. He works in elite services in the Admirals Club where he transports Concierge Key customers on the ramp to their connecting flights. “Concierge Key travelers are our most frequent flyers who spend a considerable amount of money with our airline,” says T.C. “Sometimes their connections are tight. I’m one of four drivers who escorts members on the tarmac to their next flight.” When not driving customers, he assists in the Admirals Club.

T.C. shares that working on a farm and in the education field provided him with many skills he uses in his current role with Piedmont. “At Piedmont, like in the school system, you have to be a team player,” he reflects. “I had to work with school board members, teachers and parents on a regular basis to ensure the best education was being provided to students. At Piedmont, I work with a team to ensure our customers are safe, happy and will return to flying with us.”

He also leans on his ability to lead if necessary, strong work ethic and drive to complete his daily tasks. “I’ve never been one to sit still and I enjoy being busy,” says T.C. “The airport is a busy place and I fit right in.”

His previous experience in communicating with different people comes into play at the airport where he strives to talk to people in a way they understand. “I want to have a good rapport with the people I meet and customers I interact with,” says T.C. He also has experience in de-escalating situations where he is knowledgeable on accessing situations and calmly working towards solutions. “As a principal, I was in charge of making sure students received a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment. There were always challenges to face and deal with and many times resolution comes down to how you talk to people. Situations arise at the airport and I am comfortable dealing with unhappy customers. I always want to help if I can.”

Working with special needs students required a lot of listening, patience and understanding, skills he uses today. “I have to be patient with customers and listen to their concerns and provide a solution,” says T.C. “Piedmont is a great airline and at the end of the day, I want to provide a good service.”

T.C. loves his job and traveling with his wife Judy, four children and grandchildren on his company travel benefits. He admittedly travels at least once a week. “I’m that guy who will fly to Madrid for a day or fly to a smaller station just to see what their operation is like,” he shares. “Being able to travel the world is such a wonderful benefit. I enjoy meeting new people.”

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Next Destination is a Piedmont feature series that highlights our aviation professionals who joined Piedmont after working in a different career field. Piedmont is proud to recognize our team members for their contributions to the success of the airline.