An Indispensable Team Member in Arkansas

December 2021 – In a word, she’s indispensable.

Johannah Thompson, that is. She’s the Administrative Assistant at Watco’s Osceola Marine Terminal in Arkansas, one of the company’s busiest terminals. It’s a 24/7 operation on the Mississippi River, with about 180 team members helping handle primarily inbound scrap metal, and outbound steel coils moving on barges, trucks, and trains.  

Thompson’s finger is on the pulse of all activity at the site. She knows about every barge and where it is at all times. At Osceola, that means about 70 inbound and 40 outbound barges a month. On any day, Thompson knows which barges on-site are loaded, empty, or marked for reload; how many are on the way in, and when they’ll arrive.

She’s also responsible for running weekly and monthly reports to support such areas as billing, scrap inventory, the dock schedule, fleet reporting, and revenue forecasting. If she weren’t there, “I would cry,” admits Assistant Terminal Manager Albert Bolivar. “Our office would be in a world of hurt.”

Thompson started in 2018 as a Scale Clerk in the scale house. It was during her time in that early role that she had a pivotal career moment.

Due to a tracking error in another department, a large amount of scrap iron was unaccounted for. Thompson jumped in to research what had happened and figure out how to fix it, influencing a change in how the terminal would track inventory going forward. “It took several weeks,” said Bolivar, “but Johannah had a lot to do with resolving the issue and with a better method of keeping track.”

Today, Thompson helps manage six Scale Clerks and also is a mentor to an Intern, Mary Stone, who says she arrived at Osceola and “got thrown in Johannah’s lap. And she taught me everything I needed to know from start to finish.”  

Bolivar has much the same to say about Thompson. He relied on her when he began working at the terminal a couple of years ago. “I would go to Johannah because I could just see that she really knew what was going on.” Others recognize this, too. Thompson is so knowledgeable about a customer’s billing software program that the customer tends to contact her repeatedly to seek information.

If Osceola is shorthanded in the scale house, which Bolivar says can happen often, “Johannah says ‘let me go home and grab a couple of hours of sleep,’ and then she’ll work through the night. She’s done that a lot.” In fact, she recently realized that a new Scale Clerk on the evening shift would be handling an unfamiliar task, “so she goes back home and is back at 6 p.m., teaches him how to do it, then goes to her office. She was there till midnight. Then the next morning, she’s there at 8 for a meeting.”

If her impact isn’t obvious, Bolivar drives it home. “I rely on her significantly,” he says. “So do a lot of other people.”

Read about others like Johannah who are making a difference at Watco and beyond. Learn More