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Tropical Computer Operator: ‘the greatest challenge has been how quickly technology changes’

Khac Do has been working with the company’s computer system since 1986.

By Hilary Reeves

Do stands in front of a historical timeline of Tropical Shipping
Originally from Vietnam, Do moved to Florida in 1980. He began at Tropical in 1982 repairing containers, and has served in Information Services since 1986

Originally from Vietnam, Khac Do lived briefly in San Francisco and Ann Arbor, Michigan before settling in Palm Beach, Florida in 1980. He was 19 years old.

“My first job was as a Busboy in a restaurant,” said Do. “I worked a few other jobs before I was hired at Tropical.”

Do has lived and worked in Florida ever since, joining Tropical Shipping in 1982 as a Utility person in Shop 2, a heavy mechanic and reefer facility. He began repairing containers in the Container and Chassis facility in 1985, and moved on to the Information Services department in 1986.

“I’ve held the title of Computer Operator since December 1986,” he said, adding that he became interested in computers after attending a number of optional after-work courses. “The greatest challenge has been how quickly technology changes. At one time, Tropical had a big IBM mainframe in a large room with a staff of around 10 people. Computer-room duties included checking the network, manning the internal help desk, servicing the computer equipments, printing payroll checks, and providing shipping documents to the company businesses. Today, our servers are virtual, with remote monitoring technology. The software such as T-Link, E-mail and EDI transfer technology allows the users to connect, work, and printing at local-level departments, islands, or by customers themselves.”

Do plugs in wires to servers in Tropical's computer room.
Do’s role includes network administration and maintaining equipment in the computer room.

Do’s current duties center on network administration tasks and maintaining network equipment in the computer room. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Northwood University in 1997, attending night school while working at Tropical. He said that while he might have liked to branch out, take more risks, and explore the range of careers available to him after graduating from college, he has few real regrets.

“I got married in 1994, and I wanted to settle down and hold on to what I had,” he explained.

His entire family lives in the United States; his parents, three brothers, and two sisters spread out from Florida to Georgia, Texas and Massachusetts. He is most proud of his health, his wife and his two sons, ages 16 and 12.

“At home, I enjoy watching TV, going to the beach, traveling to visit my parents and siblings’ families,” he said. He’s been back to Vietnam only once: to attend his father-in-law’s funeral in September of 2001.

“I’m definitely hoping for an opportunity to visit Vietnam again in the future.”

The former Cub Scout leader is also active at his local church, and proud to have served twice as a jury foreman at the Palm Beach County Courthouse – a duty he sees as more of a privilege.

“I’m blessed to have such a great job, co-workers, and friends,” he explained. “I’ve been blessed in this life and I want to give back.”

Do’s future plans include continuing to develop his skills through new responsibilities.

“The company relocated its headquarters, and I transferred to the Computer Systems Support group within the Information Services Department in July of 2016,” he concluded. “Even though my position as Computer Operator hasn’t changed, I’m learning many new tasks with my group about networking and servers. With the help of training, I hope I will exceed all of my job requirements. My manager, Eunice Franco, encourages each of us to grow in our learning and potential, and that’s what I’m always trying to do.”