Anthony Catalano returned from Afghanistan in 2014 in pursuit of civilian lifestyle
By Hilary Reeves
Anthony Catalano left the military well-equipped for civilian life with a desirable skill set: logistics. And still, the change in lifestyle was challenging.
“The decision to leave the Army was complicated and difficult, and the transition was a little overwhelming,” he said. “When I returned home from my last deployment to Afghanistan in the fall of 2014, I had time to reflect on how I wanted to spend the next few years, and I opted to move to a career that would provide me a more predictable lifestyle.”
Catalano is currently the operations manager for Alta Transportation in Tacoma, Wash. He recently began managing Anchorage-based Carlile Transportation System’s local department there, a line of work for which his time in the military helped him prepare.
“I was a logistics officer,” he said. “At the end of the day, my job was to manage getting the right stuff to the right customer at the right time, which is essentially what I’m responsible for now. The biggest difference is that the regulations are different, and I have less control over the assets. I’ve been learning a lot about how the transportation field works on this side of the fence. Despite some similarities, transportation in the corporate world is completely different, and when I first started, it was challenging to make sure I understood the processes, regulations and laws that go along with it.”
When Catalano first learned of the opportunity to work in civilian transportation, he called Hartleigh Caine, director of operations at TOTE Maritime Alaska, who worked with Catalano in the Army.
“When I saw the opening for this position, I gave her a call, and she helped motivate me to apply,” he said. “I was incredible fortunate to have a strong mentor through the transition process. My favorite part of this job is the team I work with. Interacting with them is what helps get me out of bed in the morning. Despite the stress or uncertainty that comes with life in the transportation business, I can always count of them to make me laugh of smile during the day.”
Catalano lives in Tacoma, not far from where he grew up –– though he’s a New Yorker at heart.
“I was born in New York City,” he explained. “Most of my family still lives there. My dad served in the military, and it brought us out to Washington State in the 90s, and that’s where we’ve stayed ever since, though my parents will probably head back to Brooklyn when they retire in a few years. I was fortunate enough to have had a childhood surrounded by friends and family who helped guide me through life.”
A degree from Central Washington University in 2008 led Catalano to the pursuit of his MBA through a part-time satellite program run by Washington State University. He said it’s only a matter of time before he goes after his private pilot’s license.
“When I was growing up, my dream was to be a pilot,” he said. “I’m slightly color-blind, so having a career in flight wasn’t in my future, but I’m going to go for my private license after my graduate studies. It’s too important of a goal not to go after.”
Another item recently checked off his bucket list: the annual Seattle-to-Portland cycle.“Last year, I was new to riding road bicycles, but a friend and I trained over a few months and completed the ride. During the beautiful summers in the Pacific Northwest, I love to be outside. I find the journey to staying physically fit in fulfilling – especially trying to keep pace with my girlfriend who is a gifted runner. Being active gives me an excuse to be outside and helps to clear my mind.”
Catalano still has weekly dinners with friends he’s known since elementary school. He sees his parents often, and his sister lives just a mile away from the 90-year-old fixer-upper he shares with his girlfriend, Jackie, a nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and his dog Rudy.
“I enjoy working around my house,” he said. “It was built in 1924, so there is never a lack of projects to accomplish, but I look forward to the challenges and to learning new things.”
In the short-term, Catalano’s goals include finishing graduate school and exploring the opportunities that it brings. He said he loves working in logistics, but he’s feeding a new passion for finance and investing. He counts his time in the Army among his many blessings, and still serves in the Army Reserves as the Terminal Operations Officer for a watercraft unit based out of Tacoma.
“I’m incredibly thankful for my time in the Army for essentially making me into the person I am today,” he concluded. “I’m also thankful and proud to be where I am. Working in transportation, especially big trucks, it seems the public only knows your company’s name if something goes wrong. Carlile is filled with hardworking people who are passionate about their jobs and about each other. I’ve been so fortunate to come to a company made up of a diverse team of individuals who care about their jobs. The work they do behind the scenes to provide our customers with great experiences is fun to watch.”