Nine months ago, Tom Scherer, 62, never thought the military would be interested in how he treated his employees.
Now the owner of Hubcap Express, an auto repair service also known for selling hubcaps and tires, is among the top 30 finalists vying for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest award given to recognize exceptional support of National Guard and Reserve employees.
According to a media release, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense national committee, will announce the final 15 award recipients by mid-summer with an awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26.
Sgt. Michael Williams, 35, worked in sales at Hubcap Express, 606 W. Coliseum Blvd., for 10 years until he was deployed the spring of 2009. He nominated Scherer after learning of the award last fall, quickly remembering the help Scherer has provided him, his family and three other military employees.
Currently serving in the Army National Guard in the 293rd Infantry, Williams is also a single parent with one daughter, and praises Scherer for continuing to support military employees even after they leave for service. Along with offering free shipping for family care packages during deployment, Scherer has fulfilled countless services, from maintaining Williams' lawn to offering him and his family rides to appointments.
Recently, Scherer offered his truck and trailer to a military employee who lacked transportation, said Williams. “That's just a small way (Scherer) helps those in uniform.”
Despite Hubcap Express being the only nomination out of 2,899 selected from Indiana, Scherer doesn't see the award as a “big deal” since he feels he “was only helping out family.”
He added, “It's nice to know the military was paying attention and that they appreciate the fact that they have someone special working for them.”
Since it was created in 1996, the Freedom Award has been given to 175 employers, three of which were from Indiana, according to the Indiana State chairman of ESGR, Steven Lynch. There is no monetary prize for the award. Employers cannot nominate themselves.
Everyone in the Indiana ESGR and military community “is very pleased Hubcap Express has been selected as a finalist for the Freedom Award,” said Lynch.
He mentioned that a committee of 12 members, including senior Department of Defense officials and previous awardees, evaluate all nominees based on their personnel policies, personal support and overall support to those in service. Past recipients of the Freedom Award met privately with the president and vice president of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.