Larry Reeves: From Luggage to Leadership

by Mar 14, 2020Uncategorized0 comments

Published on: Mar 14, 2020

Business & Wealth

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must step up and stand tall. For Larry Reeves, the youngest and first African-American president of the 1776 Local Lodge of American Airlines, his time has come. After 20 years of selfless service in the industry, Reeves now serves his company and community in a greater capacity. Reluctant to “give his mom another bill to pay,” Reeves chose the workforce over pursuing higher education. In 1999, he was working a few menial jobs before a friend told him that American Airlines was hiring. He landed a job handling baggage on the spot. Six years later, Reeves became involved with the union through his promotion to shop steward. He continued to rise through the ranks until he became the vice president and is now the president of the Local. He specifically oversees American Airlines, British Airways’ customer service, Southwest Airlines’ customer service and a private plane service called Atlantic Aviation. He handles everything from their business responsibilities to their financials including acting as a baggage handler when necessary. “I’m such a realist. I still work as a baggage handler myself because I want to be connected to my people,” Reeves told the AFRO. Being respectful, having people skills and the willingness to challenge yourself are all fundamental ingredients to the recipe of success for Reeves. When you are in a position of power you need to surround yourself with people you can count on. “You’ve got to keep knowledgeable people around. You have to pay homage to the people that paved the way for you because you need those people, and you need their knowledge.” During his tenure at the airline, Reeves managed to recruit 21 people from his neighborhood in Philadelphia, including his brothers. “I hope to change the whole demographics of what has been.” Reeves went on to disclose that when he first started, the airline was segregated. According to Reeves, Black people, specifically, were not allowed to do certain things or go to certain areas. He had never seen anything like it. “I wasn’t raised like that, so I couldn’t cope with it,” Reeves admitted. He wanted to be different, make a difference and not be a product of his environment. “You know, I’m just proud of the things that I’ve done: I helped all my friends, I purchased homes. I mean just little things like that.” Generosity is just one of the qualities Reeves demonstrates in both his professional and personal life. He is a father to a 4-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter he raises by setting stellar examples. His son is a growing ball of potential who just might follow in his father’s footsteps, “I bring him along. He loves airplanes, so I bring him to the airport,” Reeves boasted. As a #GirlDad, Reeves is proud and excited to be a part of every moment in his daughter’s life and enjoyed weekend trips to the Mall of America in Minneapolis to purchase her favorite American Girl Dolls. His daughter is currently dreaming of becoming a cosmetologist and a nurse. Reeves is also generous to his community. He sits on a board at a local recreation center in his old neighborhood. He also started his own charity called Silent Hearts, which is a nonprofit organization that gives scholarships for education of any kind. This is just one of the many ways that Reeves pays it forward. “I feel like I need to take care of everybody in any way I can. Whether it’s just having a conversation with them, or anything that I can do for them,” Reeves stated. Reeves is a devout leader, philanthropist and family man. He wants to continue to diversify the culture at the Local Lodge in hopes that it will be one of the best places to work in Philadelphia. He also mentors his employees to help them become positive agents of change in the workplace and in their community. “My whole role is to let people know that you can be who you are,” Reeves explained.

By Ariel Chrysann for Business & Wealth