From janitor to IT engineer, man proves anything is possible if you put your mind to it

Published: Monday, March 4 2013 4:35 p.m. MST

Jose Jimenez shows how he improved the shipping stations at Overstock.com and made them more efficient, in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.

James Young, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Jose Jimenez is the information technology quality assurance engineer at Overstock.com. He helps keep track of the millions of items that arrive and ultimately get shipped out of the huge warehouse in Salt Lake City.

But when he was first hired 10 years ago, he wasn't the IT guy. He was a janitor.

Jimenez was born and raised on the family farm in Jalisco, Mexico. In 2003, with a computer engineering degree, he moved to Utah. He had difficulty finding a job in his field, so he accepted a job as a janitor. At the time, he was 23 years old and had never heard of Overstock.com.

"They say, 'Are you OK with that?' I didn't hesitate,” he said. “I took the job.”

It wasn't long before he was promoted to the packing and shipping department. During his off hours, he took additional computer classes and taught himself English.

After working in the packing and shipping area for a time, Jose noticed that valuable time was being wasted because the packing supplies were scattered all over.

“We had the boxes somewhere else, so we had to walk from here to go get the boxes,” he said.

And the bubble wrap wasn't used efficiently either. “I told them we can improve this, and they said, ‘OK Jose, what do you need?'”

He was given $1,000 to come up with a solution, and with the help of a co-worker, came up with a solution for $500. Using his engineering background, Jimenez designed a rack system with PVC pipes where the rolls were overhead and easily accessible by the workers. Now, with everything within arm's reach, orders are processed faster.

"Jose is a great American success story,” said Jonathan Johnson, acting CEO for Overstock.com. “He's a great Overstock success story. We've seen it over and over again here."

Having started in 1999 with just 18 employees, Overstock is now a billion-dollar company with about 1,400 employees.

"And having people like Jose here, whom we can point to as an example of having great ideas, help us continue that entrepreneurial energy,” Johnson said.

During the last few years, while taking on more responsibilities at the warehouse, Jimenez earned a master's degree, became a U.S. citizen, got married and began raising a family. He also came up with a solution to prevent large boxes from continually jamming the conveyor system and shutting down the entire line.

He's worked hard to be where is is today, but he never doubted his ability to succeed at life. 

“When I came from Mexico, I said I was going to succeed and I always saw myself working at what I like to do, computers and technology. I made it happen as well,” he said.

While pointing to his head, he said it’s all about a person’s mindset. “If you’re clear on what you want and if you have the right people next to you, things happen,” he said.

Jose credits his parents for urging him to always work hard and do his best. His next goal is to earn a doctorate.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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