Making Portland International Airport the best it can be takes a team of many, and the Port of Portland – which operates the airport – works with a wide variety of businesses to make that happen.
This includes Relay Resources, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, which has provided janitorial services at the airport as well as at the Port’s headquarters building, Terminal 2, Terminal 4, Terminal 6, Troutdale Airport and Hillsboro Airport for more than 25 years.
Scott Martin, a lead janitor, has worked at PDX through Relay for 15 years. He wanted to work there ever since he could; his grandmother served as his inspiration. She also worked as a janitor at PDX and always looked forward to going to work – as does Scott – finding something new to enjoy every day.
What’s your role at PDX and what originally drew you to working at the airport?
I’m a janitor and I work the day shift, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday through Wednesday.
My grandmother also worked at the airport as a janitor. When she left, I wanted to take her place. She really liked it and couldn’t wait to go to work every day, right up until she retired in 2000. She also worked for the Port for 15 years: It’s funny to think I have now worked there for the same amount of time she did!
As a janitor, what are some of your tasks?
Working at PDX, nothing is ever the same. Each day is different. That means every day is a new beginning.
The variety is what’s nice. I like spending time outside – on the roadway, at arrivals and departures, in the parking structures – as well as inside, where I restock the bathrooms or pick up and sort laundry. That includes mops and rags – all the stuff we use to wipe things down.
How would you describe the people you work with at PDX?
I view the airport as a close-knit family. Everyone brings their own strengths, which keeps things fresh. I have a few colleagues I’m close with, but I’m either friends with everyone or want to be friends with them.
Travel can feel so hectic these days. What are passengers at the airport like?
Honestly, the people I have encountered are very kind and easygoing, even as they’re trying to make their flights. I put myself in their shoes: They come to the airport and might not know where things are. I reassure them and help them get where they’re going. I try and be sympathetic, polite and compassionate.
I like to think I make a difference in any area I work. If someone’s day is brightened by being around me, even for a short time, or if I can make someone’s day a little better, I’m happy. I like to help. We’re representing one of America’s best airports, after all.
What’s next for you, career-wise?
I recently got a promotion. About nine months ago, I heard about an opening for a lead janitor on day shift. That appealed to me because you can train people and lead. It’s another side of me I wanted to develop.
I like having a relatable, easygoing approach. Coworkers understand that I’ve been in their shoes, and I think that helps them feel comfortable.
I feel professionally challenged at PDX, which makes me appreciate being able to work here. I think about what I have, and I’m very grateful.
What would you say to inspire people who will read this?
Come to work putting your best foot forward. Be dedicated, have a positive attitude and try your best every day.
About Relay Resources: Relay hires people with disabilities or other barriers for employment for positions including janitorial, landscaping and document services: The company’s contracts with the Port of Portland employ more than 100 people.