By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
GREEN VALLEY —
At home, she’s a wife, mother and daughter but at work, Cheryl Raines Merritt is just another one of the guys.
After living in Roanoke, Va., for 30 years, Merritt and her husband returned home to Princeton to care for their parents. After coming back, Merritt transferred to the Carter Machinery office in Green Valley.
“I worked with Carter Machinery in Salem, Va., for seven years in their hydraulic shop there,” Merritt said. “I just started work here in November after we moved back home. I graduated from Princeton High School and moved to Salem. We lived there for 30 years and now we’re back to take care of our parents. In Salem, I worked at the Salem Times-Register for seven years and actually saw an ad in the paper for the position at Carter’s history department. I worked there for five years taking care of records then went to the hydraulic center for seven years and the billing department for a year before coming back to the area. It is nice to be back in a small town after living in Roanoke with all the traffic.”
Since she came on board in November, Merritt has been the only woman employed at Carter’s office in Green Valley.
“I was the first woman who worked here in a while and they’ve adjusted well,” Merritt said. “I didn’t really have to adjust because working in Salem, there were still more men than women employed there. I was already used to working with the guys. I keep the guys organized. At first, they were a little apprehensive about having a woman working here. The guys are very nice and helpful. They know I’m here to clean up the mess. I think it helps that I’m a Mountaineer fan, too.”
Merritt said longtime Carter customers had to adjust to hearing a female voice on the other line as well.
“We had a lot of hang-ups when I first started working here because the customers didn’t know there was a woman working here,” she said. “When I answered the phone, they would stutter or ask if they dialed the wrong number. When they heard a woman’s voice on the other end, they thought they must have dialed the wrong Carter. I think they’ve gotten used to it now.”
Merritt said she has developed a close relationship with both her co-workers and customers.
“I love all the people I work with,” Merritt said. “They are all so nice and we really work as a team. They make it pleasant to come to work. I like dealing with the customers and helping them out. I think they’ve gotten used to me now. I learn to dish it out as much as I get it. I had a little brother growing up and our neighborhood was all boys, so I grew up a tomboy. I had a motorcycle and the whole nine-yards.”
Merritt also enjoys beating the guys at their own game.
“We have competitions between the shops — tractor, mechanics, et cetera — to see who can be the most productive,” she said. “Right now, my department is winning, and that is incentive for them to get to work. They don’t want to get beat by the girl. It’s a friendly competition now.”
Merritt said she has learned a lot about machinery on the job.
“Mostly, I take customer calls,” Merritt said. “We do an exchange program for a lot of the mining cylinders companies around here use. I do time cards, see work orders through and assist with anything that is needed. I didn’t know much about all the equipment before I started here. I have learned so much. I know what parts look like, even though I’m not mechanical minded. They come in and ask me to order parts and sometimes I go out to shop. There are some big parts we order and we have to make sure they get hauled to the job site. It’s something different everyday, which I enjoy. It’s always something new. Carter has stores all over, so I have gotten to know many people through the job. Sometimes, a company needs a part right then, so we have to work fast so they can get back to work. The job teaches me patience and keeps me going. It’s a really fast-paced job. When you enjoy your job the day doesn’t last as long.”
Merritt said her son now works with the same equipment she does.
“It’s my husband and I together now, so we have an empty nest,” Merritt said. “My daughter lives in Roanoke and my son lives in Newark, Delaware. My son has a mining engineering degree from Virginia Tech and is working at a granite mine in Delaware. I guess you could say he follows in his mother’s footsteps. They use Caterpillar equipment up there and I’ve sent him company T-shirts and things like that.”
When things get busy, Merritt said the evidence is left on her desk.
“Sometimes, it seems as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done,” Merritt said. “I’m OCD and I like my desk clean when I go home. I like to come in the mornings to a clean desk, sort of a fresh start. If I come in and my desk is a mess, it means the day before was really busy.”
However, when things get busy Merritt said she still enjoys her job.
“I really do feel like one of the guys,” she said. “I talk football with them and pick at them the same way they pick at me.”
— Contact Kate Coil at