Reygers Path to Success Continues by Returning to Technical Education

by Ryan Reygers and Meridith Hatch

Retail Business Management instructor and CPTC alumnus Ryan Reygers shares how his Clover Park Technical College education has improved his life. Part two in a two-part series.

See part one: Reygers Path to Success Began with Technical Education

Training others

When I started as Footaction store manager, a kid came in wearing a Baskin-Robbins shirt asking if he could put freight away in the back room. I looked at this kid like he was nuts and asked, “Do you work here?”

Paolo Danger explained that he did, he sometimes worked when there were odds and ends to be done. I told him to go away, which he did, but he came back every day that week asking to work. The next day when I saw him walk in, I decided to put him straight to work!

This kid worked tirelessly for me, day in and day out, receiving many promotions over the next year. As a manager, I like receiving accolades, but the greatest day in my retail career was not the day I got the keys to my own store, but the day I gave Paolo the keys to his.

Rachel Ayers was another young employee that exceeded all my expectations. She consistently outperformed and earned assistant manager keys well before her 18th birthday.

Because of employees like Rachel and Paolo, I learned to see anyone as the next great manager for our industry, regardless of age or work experience. At this point, I realized I was not just a manager, I was a trainer with the pride and passion for mentoring others.

Transitions

Footaction was bought out later that year by Footlocker Inc. and the transition was brutal. Footlocker did not respect the talent acquired from Footaction, and I soon realized it was time for me to go. I was making great money with Footlocker so finding a new company was not going to be an easy task.

I asked around about companies that paid well and was told Walmart managers were well compensated and that this should be my next move. At this point, I had survived many bumps in the road of my career and felt like I could take on the world if given the chance.

In 2004, I interviewed with Walmart and was brought on at a great salary. The money was good, but it did not take long for me to see that this was not the place for me or my management style. At this point, I realized education could be my way out of this situation.

Business instructor Mathew Williams& computer tech Greg Wilson
CPTC instructor Mathew Williams & computer tech Greg Wilson

Mathew Williams told me he built an AAT degree that would complement my certificate. Although it had been a few years, my credits were transferable. He told me the best move I could make was to take advantage of this new degree in Retail Business Marketing Management.

I was working 50-60 hours a week and being the best husband and best father to my two children was my highest priority.

I recognized that life wouldn’t be easy with the added responsibilities of school, but I had no other options at this point. I could get an education and move on to a better company or leave the company and take a huge pay cut.

The industry required more education for more compensation. I had most of the experience they were looking for, but they wanted education to back it up. I earned my degree; I was on the advisory board for the college and the passion I once had for training was renewed. Now what?

Teaching

In 2011, Mathew Williams told me he planned to retire. He suggested that I apply to take over his position as the retail instructor at Clover Park. I told him he was crazy; I could never do what he does! I straight up told him that I was a manager — what did I know about teaching?

He asked me what I do at work, to which I explained: I see what needs to be done, train people on the expectations, delegate the tasks, follow up, give high fives if it was done right or retrain them if it was wrong so they can do it right the next time.

He just sat there and looked at me for a moment before he said, “what do you think I do all day?”

The author and his wife later in life

It wasn’t easy, it was a huge culture shift to apply and start as retail instructor, but it only made sense. If my true passion in life was to see others succeed, what better way to make a living then to wake up every day and give people the tools to be successful?

I can do this! And not because I read a book about it, but because I have lived it!


Technical education is the path to success

confident man standing
Retail Business Management instructor Ryan Reygers is ready to share what he’s learned to help you succeed.

One of the biggest benefits of a technical education is that you learn from people that have been where you want to go.

Technical instructors have knowledge from years of schooling, years on the job and years of work life balance. These experiences would rarely be discussed in a traditional university, but at a tech school they are talked about daily.

Yes, I earned a BA and have started working on my master’s, but the time I have spent in industry adds so much to the learning that happens in my classroom. Technical instructors are fanatical about student success and I am proud to share my experiences to help others succeed!

When I first started taking classes at Clover Park in 1998, I was young, inexperienced and had almost no direction — all I knew was that I wanted to be a good manager one day.

My instructor, Mathew Williams, believed more than I did that I could be more successful, which is why I believe all of my students have the ability to be successful as well!

Join me in the Retail Business Management program. Learn more at https://www.cptc.edu/programs/retail.

Epilogue

Retail Business Management instructor Mathew Williams taught at Clover Park Technical College (CPTC) from 1976 to 2006, then again from 2007 until retiring again in 2011.

When asked about Reygers, Williams recalled he was always dependable, always attended class and was willing to take on additional classroom responsibilities, working beyond his scheduled hours. He was impressed with how well Reygers has grown the program, adopting the latest technology to meet the needs of today’s students. 

“I have always admired his dedication to the program, and he has never been afraid to work hard to meet his goals,” Williams said.

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