Steve’s first job at the age of 13 was as a paperboy for The News Tribune, delivering papers between the Adams and Durango streets. One of the houses he’d delivered to was that of Metro Parks icon, Isabel “Izzy” Havel, who took an instant liking to Steve’s work ethic. Four years later as he was nearing graduation at Wilson High School, Isabel approached Steve and encouraged him to apply with us after walking the stage to receive his diploma.
Steve did just that.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Ground Maintenance Crew Member Steve Andren has years of contributions to the community. His three stints as an employee with Metro Parks are from an era he holds dearly to his heart.
His first job with Metro Parks was in the summer of 1977, working as a seasonal garden worker at Point Defiance Park’s greenhouses. For the next six years, Steve worked at other jobs around the city until his older sibling, who Steve jokingly nicknamed Big Brother Bob, told him that he knew the Point Defiance maintenance lead, a connection that led Steve back to Metro Parks.
Steve returned to work as a seasonal ground maintenance crew member at Point Defiance Zoo. Two years later, he transferred to the Ruston Way Waterfront before he left again for other job opportunities in Tacoma.
In July of 1988, Steve worked at the Port of Tacoma with a stair company. At the time, he wanted to come back to work for Metro Parks. When word got out at the port about Steve, his co-workers decided to pull a prank on him. Eventually, reality would end up imitating art.
Steve remembered that his supervisors at the port had a mobile unit phone in their booth. With easy access to the phones, his co-workers tricked him into thinking that a hiring manager from Metro Parks was on the line for him to set up an interview. Two weeks later, Steve fell into the same scenario with his co-workers. This time, however, his co-workers were not pulling his strings and told him the call was legitimate. Steve went to the phone, put it towards his ear and heard the words, “Steve Andren, it’s Bill Butler from Metro Parks Tacoma. I would like for you to come in for an interview.”
The call from Bill days later offering him a job as a full-time ground maintenance crew member is one that Steve recalls as a standout moment in his Metro Parks career.
For most of his third stint with Metro Parks, Steve worked at the north end of Tacoma. Along with a co-worker, they were known as the Pool Guys doing maintenance work on the north end pools every summer. Steve spent the last three years of his career working at Point Defiance Park.
Professionalism, patience and dedication are old school work traits Steve describes himself possessing. He says the overall work mentality that was common early in his career is rare to find today.
“It was different back then,” Steve said. “One time, an older employee said, ‘You want to see someone’s work ethic? Drive by someone’s house and see how nice their yard is.’”
As Steve closes his chapter with Metro Parks, he says he will miss why he got out of bed every morning to get ready for work.
“I have made a lot of good friends over the years,” Steve said. “I will also miss the responsibility to the details in making our parks shine!”
Steve’s next chapter will open time up for him to travel around the world. He wants to visit all 50 states in the U.S. with New York topping his domestic list and Europe as his number one international destination. He also says he’ll spend some more time rebuilding classic cars. Steve owns both a 1969 and ’71 Camaro and is currently restoring a 1965 Mystery Machine van.
Steve sums up his career with Metro Parks by simply stating, “I started as a young man and ended as an old man.”
Steve has been married to his wife Maria for 20 years, raised three kids and has six grandchildren.
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