Coming from a disadvantaged background in Houston, Texas, Pam Turner might have struggled her whole life to overcome early obstacles. Instead, her Native American heritage made it possible for her to move to Alaska to attend college, where she eventually got into nursing.
Today, Turner works for her husband’s family business, Turner Moving and Storage. Five years ago she stared her own foundation called Napa Youth.
“My job in the community is to bring that ‘aha’ moment to the kids,” said Turner, and “Give them a vision of what life can be like.”
What three people would you most like to have dinner with?
Roberto Clemente — he possessed phenomenal skills on the field but more importantly, he was a great humanitarian who seemed to have a heart for those less fortunate. I admire successful people who use their position to make the world a better place.
Oprah Winfrey — again, she is successful and uses her influence to make life better for others. Like my first choice, she came from modest beginnings.
Johnny Carson — I know he was a shy person, but I can’t help but think after he got to know you, he would be hysterically funny.
What job would you like to try/not try?
I’m one of those people who is willing to do just about anything and can find something positive about it. I think I would like to be a docent for the Napa Valley. There are so many hidden treasures that could be shared with our own population and with our many guests.
I would not like to be a lawyer. At one time I thought I would but after a few months of law school it became apparent that was not the career for me.
What was your first job?
I mowed lawns for the neighbors as a teen. My first real job out of college was a nurse in a maximum-security prison in Alaska.
What’s the worst job you ever had?
A nurse in a maximum-security prison.
How did you get into this business?
I originally came on board to help automate the warehouse at Turner Moving and Storage in 1994. Then, I headed up a process re-engineering project. After that I guess they figured I was worth keeping. I had retired from nursing. I’ve always been very good with computers and organizing things.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I would like to find a way to reduce customer stress. Unfortunately moving, which is stressful by itself, is often linked with another major life change such as a change in marital status or the death of a loved one. We try hard to make a move as comfortable as possible, and our crews are trained to be sensitive to issues but sometimes a customer can be absolutely frantic by the time we begin the process.
What is your favorite charity?
I love any organization that makes life better for children, the elderly, or animals. I recently founded an organization called Napa Youth. We support kids but we also support other youth organizations. I’ve been working on it for five years. My job is to (give kids) experiences outside their own family experiences (and) help them set goals and understand cause and effect. We do all of that through sports camps. It’s my passion.
What was your childhood ambition?
I wanted to be a professional athlete; figure skating and water skiing.
What’s the most significant project you’ve been involved with in your career?
When I worked with Kaiser Permanente I was involved in the initial migration from a paper laboratory system to the current computerized system. I was also involved in the Chickenpox research for developing a vaccine.
In my present job I was involved with moving our operations from St. Helena to its current Airport Centre location — moving 27,000 square feet of storage, equipment and offices is not an easy venture.
What other business person(s) would you like to see featured in “10 Questions?”
Jennifer Stewart, Napa Valley Education Foundation
Meghann Pierce, Lady of America
More from Pam Turner
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Technology and personnel. There are no really good integrated programs for our industry unless you are a huge organization. Finding qualified personnel is very difficult because we are so selective about who we place in our customers’ homes.
I can’t live without: sunshine. When the sun is shining I have lots of energy, I’m happy, and I’m motivated.
What’s on your to-do list?
I want to travel the U.S. in an RV. I really want to take my time and see famous places but also explore the secret treasures every region has. I’d love to go back to New York and Boston where there is so much history, and the south.
What’s your favorite gift to give?
Depends on the person, but I like to give practical gifts that carry a special meaning. For example, I gave my son my father’s scrapbook from his military career. A special bottle of wine is always appropriate.
What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I eat like a horse; most people think I diet and hang out at the gym but my body type is strictly genetic.
Who do you most admire in the business world?
Walt Disney because he figured out a way to make a living at something he loved doing. The resulting business is something that brings pleasure to a lot of people’s lives.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
I would like to be on a beach in Puerto Rico. I’ve never been, but I’m told that some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are there. I also had a Puerto Rican caregiver when I was growing up, so I have an affinity for that culture.
For more information about Napa Youth visit napayouth.net
To suggest a candidate for “10 Questions” e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org