Up Close: Katlin Johnston
Posted by Rose Ann Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015
“There is no typical day. It never ends up the way I have planned it, and the day continuously changes– it is impossible to become bored. I love to be busy, and I have interaction with people all day long. If someone calls with a problem, you solve it, and it makes them happy,” Katlin said.
Although not a business or accounting major in college, math was always Katlin’s strong suit. She grew up in Jogeva, Estonia, and after high school graduation went on to study hospitality and tourism at the University of Tartu Pärnu College. In addition to her native language, Katlin learned Finnish, English, German and Russian and worked at a local tourism office. This gave her opportunities to travel, and she spent a year as an exchange student in Jämsänkoski, Finland.
After college, Katlin hungered for more adventure. She applied for an 18 month-long student work exchange program in the United States, and was placed at a job with Kampground Of America (KOA) in Cherokee, N.C., deep in the forest of the Great Smokey Mountains.
That year, while everyone else was on Christmas holiday, Katlin was left in charge of the campground for two weeks. Although she’d been assured this was the slow season, she suddenly found herself flooded with vacationers in motor homes. She recalls with her characteristic laugh the wild time she spent checking reservations in and out, carrying firewood, mopping floors, and when it snowed, making sure everyone had extra propane.
But most of the time this remote campground was far too slow for Katlin’s high energy personality. After a few months she was ready for change, and when offered work in California, she jumped at the chance to see the West Coast. It was April of 2002 when she arrived at her new job, working at the KOA on San Andreas Road in Watsonville.
Soon after her arrival in Watsonville, a young man named Corey became a frequent visitor to the campground office. He was kind and helpful, and they began to spend a lot of time together. But Katlin’s visa was about to expire and she was looking for a ticket to return home.
“He asked me how I really felt about leaving and I wasn’t sure. I knew if I went back it wouldn’t be easy to return,” she said. An immigration attorney advised them to make an immediate decision on their future, and they were married Sept. 27, 2002. After 12 years of marriage Katlin says without hesitation, “We made the right choice.”
In 2003, after the birth of their son Kevin, Katlin saw a part-time position listed at Graniterock. After an extensive application and interview process, Katlin was offered a job in the mailroom. When the Accounting Department needed help, Katlin added hours as a floater and helped with cash applications and the deposit desk. When the Accounts Receivable position became available two and a half years ago, Katlin stepped in. She says the great thing about her job has been the freedom to grow, without strict rules. “When you find a problem you can fix it, and you feel so good about what you’ve accomplished.”
There is always a lot of action in the Johnston household, and Katlin continues her busy schedule when away from work. “My mom was here for a month this summer, and my brother will be here for three and a half weeks this winter. We are constantly doing things with family - hiking, biking, swimming and spending time at the beach.
Katlin’s son, Kevin, placed 1st in a national BMX competition in Reno over Labor Day weekend, and he and his brother Gabriel keep the family busy with baseball and junior lifeguards. Corey works in the Watsonville police department as a resource officer at Watsonville High School. Katlin also makes time to run and swim, saying, “With a desk job, I need physical activity. I need to get out of the house or I get so grumpy!”
For the future, Katlin likes the continuous growth and learning available to her at Graniterock. “Every day I learn some new aspect of the business . My job changes all the time, and as I get to know things inside and out, I can understand better and have more to offer the Company.”
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