Through 23 years with Metro, lead mechanic Derek Harris has always put customer service first, whether he’s rebuilding engines to keep buses moving or searching with a flashlight to find a driver’s lost wedding ring.

Harris was named Thursday as Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year. As he accepted the award, coworkers reiterated his focus on customers, and his patience, leadership and always challenging others to find the best solution.

“What I enjoy most about Metro is working with all different types of people and coordinating with all the different departments, and making sure we’re doing the right thing for taxpayers,” Harris said shortly after a ceremony with family and dozens of coworkers at Metro’s Component Supply Center in Tukwila. The “CSC” is where major components like engines, transmissions, and battery systems are rebuilt, often which helps the county save costs by extending the life of older buses.

“I know how valuable it is for people for that bus to show up. I know the value of the parts we supply here at the CSC and how important it is to get a good quality product out there to keep the buses moving, and that’s what I take a lot of pride in.”

Harris received accolades from Metro’s General Manager Rob Gannon, Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett, and DOT Director Harold Taniguchi. Metro customers will see Harris’ photo on a commemorative placard inside buses for the following year.

“Derek takes on a sense of personal ownership in all of the work he does for Metro,” Gannon said. “He takes pride in seeing that things are done right.”

Metro General Manager Rob Gannon presents Harris with an honorary placard that will be on display inside Metro buses.

Harris joined Metro in 1994 as a part-time mechanic, later securing a career service position as lead mechanic in 1998. He has served stints throughout Metro’s system, including Atlantic Base, Central Base, North Base, South Base, East Base, Bellevue Base and Ryerson Base.

When Harris moved from a previous assignment at Atlantic Base, former Superintendent Mike Eeds wrote in a thank-you letter: “A lead mechanic can make or break a base. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the time and effort you put into making Atlantic Base a success.”

0717VMeoy-DerekHarris045Harris’ wife and two daughters attended Thursday’s ceremony, along with about a dozen family members. In his off time, he’s active in his younger daughter’s school, and coaches girls’ fast-pitch softball and Little League baseball. He’s also an avid outdoors enthusiast and has a farm in Enumclaw.

Congratulations and thank you to Derek Harris for his commitment to providing Metro customers with safe, reliable service every day. Metro is honored to have Harris on our team!

KCDOT’s Hannah Debenedetto contributed to this story.