Gregg Caldwell, U.S. Marine Corps – Corporal 1985 – 1989
Gregg Caldwell’s experience in the military has led to a lifelong career.
During his time in the U.S. Marine Corps, Caldwell worked as a motor mechanic fixing Humvee and 5-ton trucks. Upon leaving the Marines, Caldwell took a job as a small engine mechanic for a rental company. He then worked on trucks for a construction company and got a job at a Ford dealership.
“I always did side work trying to save up money,” Caldwell shares. “I just kept on getting more and more work from neighbors and started a business from scratch.”
Caldwell worked his side business for several years, before hiring his first employee and diving into his own business fulltime.
“The first payment that I had to make was $500 a month to rent my single bay. At that time it seemed like a lot of money, but it’s just a drop in the bucket now,” he reminisces.
In 1996, G&C Express Tire & Auto Service was founded. Today, the dealership operates two locations in Chantilly and Manassas, Va.
Caldwell joined the Marine Corps. in 1985 straight out of high school. After completing basic training he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
He shares that being stationed that far away from family was tough because calls home were difficult.
“It was a shock when you’re used to talking to family members regularly. It was difficult being away from home at that young age. Mail call was incredibly important,” he says.
As a motor mechanic Caldwell was responsible for making sure the Humvees and 5-ton trucks were ready to perform. He signed off on work performed and was held accountable for the function of the vehicles.
“Preventative maintenance was everything. Trucks can’t go out and break down in the middle of nowhere. And you had to quickly and efficiently make repairs,” he shares.
While he didn’t always acknowledge the benefits of being a Marine at the time, looking back he sees how the service helped him learn and develop. He encourages others to serve if they have the opportunity, he says.
“It helped me grow up quickly being on my own. And knowing that once you sign up you’re not changing your mind. You have to follow through,” he says. “I was always driven not only to start my own business, but to accomplish certain things. I think that the military helped me to be a person who acts rather than sits back and waits for something to come along.”
Caldwell says this trait helped him survive the economic downturn. He would actively look for work, rather than let his business fail, he shares.