Arnold AFB's Jody Frame is quick to listen, slow to speak

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Jody Frame's cell phone is ringing. There's a knock at the door. A call coming in on his radio and he's right in the middle of speaking to an air conditioning technician in his office - and it's still early in the day.

"You stay busy out here," acknowledged the Shelbyville native, who is Aerospace Testing Alliance's (ATA) supervisor for utility main¬tenance, except electricity, on the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC).

"It's a fast change every 30 minutes. For instance, here it is 8:30 in the morning, I've been here since 6 and I've already had three emergency calls - a contractor hit a water line, an air conditioning system is off MT&L, steam is going out right across the street here."

Frame said he is rarely in his office, remains on call 24/7 and often puts in 10-hour days, most of his time spent "in the field." However, he is quick to point out that he is not complaining. He even seems to thrive on the high tempo of his job and the close working relationship he shares with the people he refers to as "my guys."

"The bottom line is I'm blessed to have such a great team," he said. "And I learn something new from them every day."

The Shelbyville native joined the center's work force in 1992, something he had been trying to do unsuccessfully for years. Frame joined the Air Force the month after graduating from high school in 1979. He worked as an electric lineman during his 13 years of active duty.

"I always had Arnold on my dream sheet, but it never hap¬pened," he said. "It was kind of funny, after taking the uniform off, I walked in here as a contrac¬tor. Two weeks after applying to TVA, Duck River and AEDC, the center hired me to take care of their power lines."

Five years ago, he took on a new challenge - the role of supervisor.

"We take care of all the utili¬ties for the base - water, sewer, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), steam, just about any kind of utility you can think of except electrical," he explained. "We also manage the cafeterias' utilities, HVAC shop and pipe shop."

Besides managing the pipefit¬ter and air conditioning shops, Frame recently took on an ad¬ditional task, supervising a fast track team, a quick response group to handle the higher priority utility jobs.

Frame, who acknowledges his job can be stressful, said patience is the key to success. His philosophy for life reflects how he stays focused and handles the challenges everyone faces, whether at work or at home.

"James 1.19 - ' quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger,'" he said, explaining that the same principles apply, whether with his own family or his supervisors, co-workers and subordinates.

Frame, who has two teenag¬ers at home and a job where he sometimes gets a phone call at 2 a.m., has taken on yet another challenge. He joined the Army National Guard last November.

Frame and his wife, Michelle, met when they were both sta¬tioned at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. His wife was in law enforce¬ment and is now working in real estate.

Thirteen years after get¬ting married, their career plans changed when they learned Mi-chelle was pregnant with their son, Colton. When their respective orders would have put his wife at a separate and isolated location, they decided it was time to leave the military. Since it was during a drawdown, the Air Force offered a lump sum to anyone wanting to exit the service.

Two years ago, the couple started thinking more about the future - how to make ends meet in the long term. Frame followed his own advice about making a life-changing decision; he weighed all the pros and cons before deciding what to do.

"I want to finish out my ac¬tive duty military service," he explained. "So, why did I choose the Army National Guard - it's something different. A lot of people say I'm too old to do this or do that, but until they throw dirt on your grave, you aren't too old."

Frame said his role at work in some ways mirrors the approach he and wife, who he considers his best friend, take at home.

"You and your spouse have got to be on the same page," he said, explaining how they present a united front with their children.

When one of their children asks one of them a question or makes a request, that parent's answer becomes 'their' stand on the issue.

"There's none of this play¬ing mom and dad against each other," he said. "They know if they do that it's an automatic no anyway."

However, Frame and his wife are not so inflexible that the whole family can't sit down and discuss an issue calmly. Like at home, Frame said he uses diplo¬macy, collaboration and patience to get things done on the job.

"The ladies in the front office and the guys who work with me - they're awesome," he said. "And I won't ask them to do something I won't do."

Duane Stephens, an ATA pipe¬fitter, has been at AEDC for close to 14 years, long enough to have worked for a few managers.

"Jody is willing to listen to you - if you see a different way of doing the job; he is all for doing it the best and safest way," said Stephens. "He is also willing to jump in there and give you a hand if you need it."

Stephens recalled a late call to possibly evacuate a blocked sewer line at base housing. After calling Frame at home, Stephens said his supervisor didn't hesitate to return to work.

"He was on his way in to help me with it, but luckily it turned out to be a minor job so I got it done before he got there," said Stephens. "I've been out there too many times when it was bad, but Jody has jumped right in there to help."

Tom Penfold, manager of ATA base civil engineering, shares Stephens' opinion of Frame as someone who is a critical member of the team at ATA Base Civil Engineering.

"Jody Frame is a key player in the success of our support shops in maintaining and repairing the critical AEDC assets and keeping the base running," he said." Jody is very knowledgeable and skilled in trouble shooting, repairing and maintaining the facility infrastructure - he is always striving to meet the customer's needs and conscientious about doing what is right for everybody.

Jody is Mr. Fix-it for ATA and is well respected and trusted for all of the work he is involved in. He is a quality supervisor who has earned the trust and respect of his crews by working with them and he is willing to do whatever it takes to support his men and accomplish the work required."

When Frame decided to join the Army National Guard, he had to tackle another challenge; one he had hoped was behind him.

"I had to go back through boot camp in May," he said. "That was tough, for a 46-year-old man running with those 20 something-year-old kids, but I did it - passed it with flying col-ors. Then I recently got back from a three-week school in Kansas for my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). Basically, I'll be a meteorologist, the weatherman for artillery."

Frame's cell phone is ringing again, and before long he'll be calling his crew in to discuss the latest utility problem and figuring out the best way to handle it.
Another supervisor asked Frame recently what he would do if he could take a long vacation.

"If I could take a year off and do something, I'd love to try that Texas Hold Em," Frame said. "We'd have a little game once a month or something - a few of the guys and I would get together."

Then reality kicks in as Frame's cell phone rings again and the voice on the other end sounds urgent, something about water running out the front door of a boiler room.

Frame's parents, Learel, who was an electrician at AEDC for 20 years, and Linda Frame, still live in Shelbyville. Jody and his wife, Michelle, live in Moore County with their son, Colton, a JROTC student in high school; and a daughter, Lindy, 14, who is "14 going on 20."