The Wood and Brown family members make AFL their home away from home
Some say it’s wise not to work with family members. While AFL is certainly not a family business, after almost 40 years in business and thousands of employees during this time in one geographic area, family members working at the same company is probably bound to happen at some point.
Brian Wood, Substation Product Line Manager, celebrated his 23-year anniversary in November 2023. Earlier in 2023, Brian’s son, David, worked as a summer co-op for the Accessories plant in Duncan, S.C, and applied for and received the Naruse Scholarship AFL offers to children of associates entering a college or university. But David is not the only family member of Brian’s that currently or previously worked at AFL.
Brian’s oldest son, Alex, is currently the Energy Team Lead in the Customer Service department. Daniel Brown, a buyer for Accessories, is Brian’s brother-in-law.
(Pictured on the right, from left to right: Daniel Brown, Alex Wood and Brian Wood.)
But Brian isn’t trying to start a family dynasty at AFL. If anything, he was the one brought into the dynasty. It all started with his mother-in-law, Elisabeth.
Elisabeth (Brown) Linton began working at AFL in August 1995 after she moved to the area. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she did some translation work before coming to AFL. She started as an administrative assistant to Don Little who was the General Manager of the Connector and Splicer business unit at the time. After Don retired, Steve Althoff became the new General Manager and her new boss (Althoff recently retired from AFL where he was the President of AFL Hyperscale business). Even though there were other opportunities available for her, Elisabeth chose to remain in administrative/office manager positions.
In 1997, Elisabeth recommended her daughter Rebecca for a temp position to assist with a catalog project. Rebecca became a full-time associate in 1998 and worked in various customer service and inside sales role all while continuing to work in the same office area with her mother.
In fact, their cubicles were kitty corner from one another, and Rebecca would call out “Hey Mom” if she needed something. But Steve Althoff put a stop to that. He insisted that Rebecca address Elisabeth by her first name, not Mom.
But there were repercussions from this. Whenever Rebecca was with her mother outside of work, she would still have to call her mom “Elisabeth” just to get her attention. “She couldn’t tune me out when I called her Elisabeth,” Rebecca jokes.
After becoming a full-time employee, Rebecca had to go on a business trip to Houston. However, she wasn’t 25 years old yet and couldn’t rent a car, so they sent her mother to go with her on the trip.
AFL took a downturn around 2001, a victim of the dot.com bubble burst and had to furlough employees. Elisabeth was on this short list. Sometime in November 2001, she recalls Steve Althoff asking her to meet him in a conference room. “There has already been quite a number of layoffs and I could see the writing on the wall,” Elisabeth said.
However, being laid off didn’t faze her in the least. Elisabeth was a couple months away from getting re-married and took her newly free afternoon to go wedding dress shopping.
Rebecca remained employed during this fragile economic time and stayed at AFL for several more years, leaving on her own accord in May 2009.
All though Rebecca’s time at AFL overlapped some with her brother-in-law, Brian Wood, their paths rarely crossed. Brian, who is married to Elisabeth’s daughter Angela (Rebecca’s sister), started at AFL in November 2000 after getting out of the Army. He learned of the AFL position through Elisabeth, who suggested it might be a good fit since he had warehouse experience while in the Army.
A few months into his new job at AFL, the tech bubble burst affected his new position and Brian was facing his next obstacle - he could be transferred to a different department in the company or be let go. As a young man with a new house and a family to provide for, it was necessary for him to remain employed. So he opted to stay and moved over to the Accessories division. Since then, he has climbed his way up through the substation business unit over the years to where he now leads the $30 million product line.
Around the time Rebecca left AFL, Daniel Brown was looking for a job. Daniel is Rebecca’s stepbrother from her father’s second marriage. But it was Brian who suggested to Daniel that he might like working in the warehouse at AFL. Daniel got a part-time position in the former Hillside warehouse and moved into a full-time position at the Accessories plant a few years later. Today he is a Buyer/Planner for the substation line and often works with Brian on orders.
Fast forward a decade, and now Brian’s oldest son is working at AFL.
In 2018 and 2019, during his summer breaks from college, Alex Wood worked at the Accessories plant as part of AFL’s University Co-op Program. After graduating from Wofford College, he interviewed and was offered a position in Customer Service in August 2020.
When Alex first started, he didn’t want anyone to know that Brian was his father for two main reasons. One, he didn’t want people to think he knew more than he did; and two, he didn’t want it to look like nepotism. His goal is to learn as much as he can to grow and move up in the company. In fact, when he was interviewing for the full-time gig after college, he came prepared with not only a five-year plan, but a 10- and 15-year plan for working at AFL.
(Pictured on the left: The Wood men, Alex, Brian and David (from left to right)
A member of Gen Z having a 15-year plan to work at one company is surprising in this day and age when it’s common, even encouraged, for the new working generation to job hop every few years. But that’s not something Alex is interested in. “If a company treats you well, you do the same,” says Alex.
One AFL benefit that Alex has taken advantage of was the tuition reimbursement program to earn his MBA from Gardner-Webb University. Daniel also earned his bachelor’s degree from Limestone College with this AFL benefit.
Back to David Wood, the youngest working member of the Wood family. At this point, he knows several family members who work or have worked at one company, so did he feel compelled to do the same? “Honestly, I wanted some spending cash as all teenagers do. But I also wanted a little bit of work experience and something to do over the summer.”
David reflects positively on his summer co-op program, noting that he had supportive managers and co-workers who taught him how to do the job well and effectively. And he could do his job without his dad or brother looking over his shoulder. David said it was “nice to go to lunch with them on Fridays and share a ride to work,” but otherwise, he didn’t really see much of them when he was at work.
Currently a freshman at Wofford College, David plans to come back to work at AFL during his Christmas break and potentially during the summers for as long as he can.
“God has a sense of humor. But it’s really, really cool,” Brian says of his sons also working at AFL.
With so many family members working at the same place, it’s sometimes hard to keep work and home life separate. Now that Alex and David are out of the house, they still have dinner with their parents most Friday evenings. But their mom has one rule, they can only talk about AFL for 30 minutes and that’s it. Then it’s family time. It’s good to have boundaries.
Lest we forget, there’s one more family member that had a brief stint at AFL, Elisabeth’s stepson, Philip Linton. Philip interned here when he was a student at North Greenville University.
Fret not, the Wood and Brown family members have not and are not violating company policy. According to the employee handbook, AFL’s policy on relatives working together comes down to if the applicants are qualified for the position, associate and relative are not in a direct reporting relationship, and their personal relationship will not adversely affect the workflow process. Clearly, the Wood and Brown family members take this policy to heart and have made it a family affair to build their careers at AFL.
“Having found the job at AFL in the summer of 1995 was an answer to prayer for me and has been a blessing to my entire family to this day,” said Elisabeth.
Pictured to the right, the Wood Linton Family. Elisabeth Linton is in the middle. Left to Right: Alex Wood, Rebecca Nicholson, David Wood, Philip Linton, Brian Wood)
Written by Nicole Collins
Digital Marketing Specialist