If the key to Success City is preparing oneself

to take advantage of

opportunities, then Kaman’s Senior Director of Business Development Roger Wassmuth has worn that master key to a nub. “Taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves on my path pretty much got me to where I am today. I enjoyed most of the path that I took,” he circumspectly says.

The path has been no leisurely stroll down a meandering way; rather, Wassmuth’s career path ascended to his senior position beginning at a fast and purposeful pace. The Columbus, Ohio, native — and big Ohio State University Buckeyes fan — entered the military in 1978 directly out of high school, where he served as a Navy maintenance technician. He honed his maintenance skills even earlier as a boy in his father’s full-service gas station. (You may remember those now-extinct establishments: service attendants wore ties, and usually a smile, as they checked your oil, belts, battery, and tires while topping off your tank.) The boy started out pulling weeds on the station’s lot and worked his way up to performing repairs, tune-ups, and oil changes. The station had a service contract with the local U.S. Postal Service to maintain its fleet of Gremlins. (The little cars, not the little mischievous movie characters, although some might say the Gremlin automobile was uglier and at times caused more trouble than its movie namesake.) Even today, although Wassmuth now has a master’s in aeronautical science and went to A&P school to become a licensed mechanic, he enjoys working on simpler, ground-based stock and relives his early wrench-turning years by slowly and surely restoring a beloved 1971 Chevy pickup truck. It’s not kept in showroom condition because it has a higher use — cruising to the beach — for the Wassmuth blended family that includes three daughters and two sons. “Every time I take it out on the road, I get a thumb up from somebody,” claims the proud owner.


Wassmuth’s first Navy assignment was to the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, which is apropos as Wassmuth is conducting our Skype interview from his summer home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, not far from the historic Kennedy family compound at Hyannis Port.

He did three years of sea duty on the JFK. “Of all the ships I was around, I liked the carrier best because it was exciting and massive with plenty of room. There are 5,000 people on board; it’s a floating city.” he says. Wassmuth found the Navy so agreeable that he upped his initial commitment for two more years when he was assigned to a helicopter squadron, HSL-34 Greencheckers, where he worked on aircraft built by his future employer, Kaman. (Wassmuth says the name’s pronounced similarly to ‘command.’) A Kaman civilian tech rep., Homer Helms, whose name Wassmuth remembers to this day because “he changed the direction of my

Wassmuth’s halcyon Hawaiian days were cut short when the head man, Mr. Kaman himself, requested tech reps return and help him with a new aircraft project: the medium lift K-MAX. He wanted his tech reps to bring their maintnenance expertise to the new aircraft that his team was designing. Wassmuth recalls, “We were integral as to where components and access panels were placed, and focused on issues like the support tooling required. Mr. Kaman thought about more than just the pilot in the cockpit, but how the aircraft could be maintained.” Wassmuth, as head of field service, was also involved in hiring tech reps for K-MAX field service. 17

life,” approached and asked the young maintenance technician if he would like to join Kaman when he concluded his Navy commitment. Helms’s pitch included “We’re like the Marines; we’re looking for a few good men.” Wassmuth recounts his thinking at the time: “I was going to night school on base at Embry Riddle and taking advantage of every opportunity (our “Military2Civilian” columnist, Stacy Sheard, is smiling on page 16) I had and felt I’d done about everything I could do in the Navy. I filled out the Kaman application and they flew me up for an interview; within an hour after arriving, they offered me a job.” The young man knew the aircraft, but they wanted him to relearn it from the OEM side. After nine intense months of training and working on the production line, Wassmuth became the youngest tech rep. Kaman ever had.


Wassmuth wasted no time between career transitions. “I was discharged from the Navy on April 30 and started at Kaman on May 1, 1984” he says. “Right after Kaman training, I went to my first company assignment as a tech rep. on January 1, 1985, to the naval base at South Weymouth, Massachusetts.”

From that New Year’s Day until 1993, Wassmuth moved where Kaman needed him. Beginning with the reserve squadron at South Weymouth (HSL-74), he went as a technical representative to a reserve squadron in Pennsylvania (HSL-94) and then to the active duty squadron (HSL-37) at Barbers Point, Hawaii. It was a good place to be. “That was one of my favorite assignments because it was operational, and how could you not enjoy Hawaii?” Although he enjoyed the Aloha State, it wasn’t all play; for his technical service the U.S. Navy Squadron awarded Wassmuth the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for his contribution to its overall operational readiness. It was a gesture that surprised and pleased the former Navy man.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90