From The Blog
Love for What You’re Doing
Land & Lakes Department senior crew leader Charles Maxwell celebrated his 25th anniversary with KICA in February, becoming just KICA’s fourth employee to reach that milestone over its 46-year history. Charles is a cornerstone of his department, which is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the association’s common properties. The island’s unique beauty is one of the first things that Charles mentions when asked about his position.
He started with KICA in 1997, after hearing about an open position from a friend at the old Kiawah Inn. At the time, he had already been working on the island for about 10 years, doing contracted landscaping with a private company. The move to KICA was a good one for him, and 25 years on, he talks about KICA as a company that stands by its employees during hard times and has become his “second family.”
Charles and his crew, which has 4 to 5 team members, work from the Main Gate to first Flyway Drive, including Rhett’s Bluff and Surfsong. Most days involve pruning, mowing, and blowing as they move through the island’s common properties. At KICA’s Annual Meeting on March 11, COO Shannon White noted that “when tropical systems have hit us, Charles has often been one of the first ones back in to start the recovery.”
Asked his favorite thing about the job, Charles doesn’t hesitate when saying, “My coworkers.” He says, “I don’t like to ask them to do things I wouldn’t do. We have respect for each other. Everyone’s got a voice.” His younger employees respect him as a leader but also as a person, a respect that Charles returns, listening to their suggestions and ideas. This is a quality that Charles finds in his own supervisors as well, noting that Leila Gable, longtime Land Management supervisor, is always open to suggestions from the team. This mutual respect is part of what Charles appreciates about the company.
Before dedicating 35 years to Kiawah, Charles also served our country in the United States Army in his early 20s. Deployed to Germany for a large part of his service, he worked on missiles as a crewman and had a top secret clearance. Together, Charles and his wife have five sons and two daughters. They are lucky to have 10 grandchildren now, and he smiles broadly as he lists their accomplishments, from his 23-year-old USC graduate to 5-year-old Gabrielle, who is “granddaddy’s heart.” The family gets together for cookouts and to play games. Charles is a basketball and football fan, supporting the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I love to see my kids happy. They asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said, as long as I got y’all around, every day is Christmas.” He thanks God for everything, all his blessings.
Reminiscing about how the island has changed, he remembers how the maintenance team used to work out of trailers before the building on Kestrel Court was built, and how the area that is now Ocean Park was undeveloped. He likes the area as it is now as well, with its beautiful views.
It’s easy to wonder what keeps Charles going after so long, but his secret is barely a secret once you talk to him: “Have love for what you’re doing.” He says, “You can’t get up everyday and not like what you’re doing.” Forty-eight years old when he was originally hired and retiring at the end of this year, Charles says if he had it to do all over again, he would do it the same, except maybe start with KICA a little earlier.