Garrett Watton, Gander International Airport’s chief electrician. Garrett is very much part of the next generation of airport leaders, bringing experience and professional acumen beyond his years.
Garrett lives in Appleton with his wife Maryanne, a registered nurse. He is as a councillor with the town and balances a busy job and spending time with his two children, four-year-old Isaac and two-year-old Alivia. We made it a point not to ask Garrett when his last good night’s sleep occurred.
We did take time to talk with him about a big job, community service, fathering tips and workplace camaraderie.
Q. Where are you originally from?
GW. My dad was a Mountie so I’ve lived all over. But I guess I would call Pasadena, on the west coast, where I’m originally from.
How did you come to work for the airport?
I saw the electrician’s position posted and was looking for a long-term career in Gander so I could settle down. I worked (in Gander) for a long spell but I just wanted somewhere I could call home.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
We usually start our day with the airfield lighting check, so we have to make sure all the approach lighting, navigational aids and all of the airfield lights are in working order. After that, there is always a long list of things to do and things to tackle.
You are part of a small shop with a lot of responsibility. How do you deal with that?
One day at a time. We rely on each other. We are only a small group, but everybody chips in and we help each other out. Together, we get through it one step at a time.
How big is you’re the job at Gander? There must be an incredible amount of electrical infrastructure to maintain?
As an electrician, I am responsible for the entire runway, approach lighting and navigational aids. There’s also the Fire Hall, the terminal building and the maintenance garage. There is certainly a lot to it.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is coming to work in March and April and seeing all the passengers dressed and ready to fly down South as I make my way out to a cold, snowy van to service the runway lights. They say it’s not always greener on the other side of the fence. In this specific case, it is.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Coffee at 9:30. I look forward to my coffees at 9:30.
How has your life changed now that you’re a dad?
It’s certainly a lot busier. You don’t have a lot of free time to do things. But the change is for the best – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you have any tips for new parents?
I found I had a tendency to get caught up in work. So I try to take a moment to step back and spend the time with them. Because the kids change, and they grow up so fast … you blink and it will be all gone.
What do you do in your spare time?
I work a lot. But when I’m not working, I like to hunt. I’m an outdoor person. I like hunting, boating, and driving the side by side.
We see you were elected to Appleton’s town council. What motivated you to run for office?
Appleton’s council had two seats available. Sometimes it’s hard to find people to fill the positions. This time it wasn’t, and there was a bit of a race for the vacancies. You serve on council because you want to get involved, help your community and see it grow. I felt I had something to offer.
What’s the best thing about living in Appleton?
The people are what makes Appleton great. It’s a really nice community. I always say it’s like living in a gated community, without the gates. People are very friendly here and there’s a lot of energy in our town.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
It would be awesome if I could fly so I wouldn’t have to walk through the building all the time.
If you had $100,000 in seed money, what business would you start?
A butcher shop. I think there is a real serious need for an actual butcher shop in the area.
Keeping with meat matters, hot dog or hamburger? Choose one.
A bit morbid, but let’s say the world is ending tomorrow morning. What are you having for supper this evening as a last supper?
What destination is on the top of you bucket list?
I’d like to go to Labrador. I lived in Southern Labrador and I always wanted to go up to the northern tip of the Torngat Mountains, especially with the new National Park there.
What’s your most cherished possession?
I don’t really have any prized possessions. I know you don’t own people, but I’m really into my family. I value the time I spend with my two children and love watching them play and grow. That means more to me than any material object.