Juan Santos: A Grateful Veteran Growing his Skills in Battle Creek, Michigan

My name is Juan Santos, I joined DENSO in 2015, and today I’m a quality technician at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, Michigan. I’m responsible for ensuring parts are within specification, reporting results and calibrating tooling used in production activities.

In 2010, I joined the U.S. Navy for the discipline and direction I needed at that time of my life. I also wanted to do something honorable and brave – to be of service to my nation – and see the world! But the biggest influence was my father, a former Captain in the Ecuadorian Navy, who shared stories about his experiences. So off I went to join arms with other patriotic men and women who stand ready and are ready to answer our nation’s call.

I learned a lot in the military. From day one of bootcamp, attention to detail was engraved in my brain. From simple things like making your bed and keeping clothes folded nice and neat to handling standard military instruction and training. 

I also learned to always give 110%. My drill instructor used to say, “When I ask you do something, you move at 100 mph and get the task done right the first time or you will come back and do it again.” This taught me that when you pour your heart into a task, giving it everything you have, good things will come.

Another thing I got from my military service is a mechanical skillset. I worked on the catapults of aircraft carriers that launched F-18 jets into the sky. I was responsible for directing flight operations and maintaining the catapults. 

Military service perception
Everything I have today is due to my time in the Navy. Many people don’t see military service as an option. They only consider the “traditional” path of high school and college. However, the military is a truly rewarding experience. It molds you into a better individual, provides unique experiences that last a lifetime, but most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to be of service to your country. 

Sometimes people don’t realize the sacrifice or price service members and veterans pay. It’s not easy being away from family and loved ones during several 9-month deployments during your military career. And unfortunately, some return injured, or don’t get to return at all. All this affects the service person themselves, and also their loved ones. It’s a sacrifice for everyone.

A grateful veteran
In the Navy, I gave my all, and in return the Navy provided me with unique experiences and skills that serve as the backbone for how I live my life. I’m currently pursuing an engineering degree – and the skills and traits I acquired from the Navy enable me to perform well at work and school.

  • Juan Working as a Machine Tech

Then there are the everlasting relationships developed while being out at sea. I always enjoyed watching how folks from all walks of life came together to build a team. My experience wasn’t easy, there were many deployments with long days of work – from sunrise to sunset – in the Persian Gulf. It was exhausting, but at the same time, fantastic and unforgettable. I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today without my military service. 

I like that working at DENSO has given me the opportunity to use the technical and leadership experience I gained in my military career.