It is 7 a.m. Outlook Nebraska Associate Brian Grams starts his shift for the day as a machine operator. He feels comfortable and relaxed in Outlook’s production facility. His co-workers are his friends, and he enjoys being around machinery. Brian’s journey to this point was not easy.
Brian grew up in a small town. He was on the football team. He rode horses and even began his own horse training business after high school. Life was good.
Brian was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at a young age. “I knew I had it, but it didn’t affect me much. I sometimes had to sit in the front row in class and could not see as well at night,” Brian said.
As he went through high school, his vision started declining. “I had to give up football my sophomore year. Games were at night, and I did not trust my night time vision,” Brian said.
After just three years of driving, Brian gave up his keys. “It just wasn’t worth the risk. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was the right one,” he said.
Brian found a job at a golf course and later moved into a production position at a local factory. “I was never able to advance in my previous jobs,” said Brian. “I felt like I was some kind of liability and that others could do my work better. I was passed over for promotions more than once, and I felt like people thought I was not capable.”
In 2014, Brian started his training at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Lincoln. After getting laid off, he knew he needed to learn some new independence skills. He had one goal: to get back to work.
His training was nearly complete when he learned about Outlook Nebraska. “I finished my program and started at Outlook three days later,” he said. “It was perfect.
Brian began his Outlook career as a finisher and quickly advanced to a machine operator. “Here, I feel like I do not have to worry and that I am not being judged because of my vision. I want to keep learning and growing in my role,” he said.
Brian is dedicated to the continual development of his talent and is known as a team player by his fellow associates. According to his peers, he has a strong work ethic and works well with multiple departments. He is always willing to help others and goes the extra mile for the organization.
Brian is the current chairperson of the Outlook Nebraska Quality Workplace Environment Committee that oversees an organizational action plan for improvements and volunteers to speak at monthly public luncheon events. Additionally, he is a member of Outlook’s competitive goalball team.
For these reasons and many others, Brian is Outlook Nebraska’s 2018 National Industries for the Blind Peter J. Salmon Award nominee.
Brian smiles as he thinks about how his life has changed for the better. “I can now say that my life gives me a sense of pride. Things were hard for awhile. I had to give up my horses and figure out a new path for myself. Outlook helped me get back to doing what I love again – having a meaningful career, getting back into sports through goalball, and becoming a positive role model for my two boys.”