Cultura

Valvoline American Heroes: Q&A with Navy Veteran Eric Bevevino

Jul 31, 2019

Valvoline would not be where we are today without the American heroes that have served our country and currently serve our company daily.

Eric Bevevino, Valvoline Director of Heavy Duty National Accounts, served in the Navy for around 22 years. From starting out as a Supply/Diving Officer on his first ship, the USS Preserver (ARS-8), to Assistant Chief of Staff for Training in a 130-person unit supporting Naval Forces Japan, Eric has plenty of leadership experience and memories from his time serving in the Navy. Find out more about what inspired Eric to serve and how his experience in the Navy led him to his position at Valvoline today.

Photo Credit: Eric Bevevino

Why did you choose to serve?

I grew up in a patriotic Irish-Italian family from northern Pennsylvania. My father always studied military history, particularly the Civil War and the American frontier, sharing these legends with me in my youth. Learning from him, I developed a keen interest in strategy and tactics, particularly related to WWII and Vietnam. When I was a junior in high school, he offered to buy me a car for graduation if I was able to get my college education paid for. An ROTC scholarship was the most promising option. I chose the Navy at Penn State for a Mechanical Engineering degree and, after seeing Top Gun, wanted to be a fighter pilot. When I discovered that my eyes weren’t good enough to fly, I had to choose a different path and thankfully ended up becoming a Navy deep-sea diver.

Why did you choose to serve in the Navy, verses another branch?  

I was intrigued by what I had seen and heard in movies like An Officer and A Gentlemen and Top Gun. 

What was the most memorable part of being in the Navy?

It’s hard to pick the most memorable part. It all started in the snowy winter of 1990 in Newport, Rhode Island, at Surface Warfare Officer School. From there, I was sent to the US Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida. The only type of diving I had done at this point was snorkeling, so I had no idea what I signed up for. Learning how to be a hardhat salvage diver from this specialized group of professionals was one of the very best experiences of my life. It created a pride and bond in me with all Navy Divers past, present, and future. A bond that is only forged through a deep understanding of “extreme” teamwork, where the lives of the divers on the bottom depend on all team members above and below the waterline. I also gained a sincere appreciation for preventive maintenance and the ability to adapt, adjust, and overcome. This served me well on my first ship, the USS Preserver (ARS-8) when we salvaged the America’s Promise in Chesapeake Bay and towed a decommissioned submarine from Norfolk through the Panama Canal.

Photo Credit: Eric Bevevino

You served for around 22 years. What was your favorite period of time serving?

Though I thoroughly enjoyed serving with overseas units as a staff officer, I have to say that my favorite time was anytime when I worked side-by-side with fellow Navy Deep Sea Divers. Being a Navy diver was and always will be part of my identity. 

Who are your American heroes? 

My American heroes are all American servicemen and women who have served in combat on the front lines. Beyond that, I’d have to say Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Chris Kyle, and Carl Brashear. I admire anyone who has given the ultimate sacrifice and/or has put themselves into harm’s way for the greater good. 

Did you have any first responders or military in your family growing up? And did they inspire you to serve? 

My uncle was a Brigadier General in the Army. He is certainly someone I looked up to as a kid.

In the Navy, you led and managed a lot of projects. What advice do you have on leadership? 

My advice would be to take care of your people and your people will take care of you. Lead by example and own up to your mistakes. Everyone is human and we all make mistakes. What separates leaders from managers is that leaders admit and learn from their mistakes, not pushing the blame to others while working at getting better every day. In my experience, leaders also focus as much on developing their people as they do on mission accomplishment.

How do your skills from your service lend to your work at Valvoline?  

Managing people at a young age, directly out of college, has helped me refine my leadership style over time. Performing roles in the Navy such as Supply, Communications, Training, Operations, Planning, and Command helped me gain an appreciation for all parts of an organization. It also taught me that cross-functional collaboration is a key skill in any organization. Being responsible for the well-being and success of many individuals under my leadership has helped me prioritize long-range planning and the day-to-day effort that support it. Finally, I try not to sweat the small stuff, as I know it could always be worse.

Photo Credit: Eric Bevevino

Since you work for Valvoline, we have to ask, what was your first car?  

My first car was an electric blue 1990 T-top Chevy Camaro. My father came through on his end of the bargain!

Join us in giving back to our American Heroes this summer. Purchase 5 quarts of any Valvoline motor oil now through July 31st at participating retailers and you can choose to donate a $5 rebate to select charitable organizations. Visit TeamValvoline.com/AmericanHeroes for more information.


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Tags: Cultura

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