Here at NCEI, we aren’t just data—we are people. In our Humans of NCEI series, meet the awesome minds that manage one of the largest archives of atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, and oceanic research in the world. Get to know Arthur Annis, an Inventory Management Specialist.
What is your job title?
Inventory Management Specialist.
What is your specific area of expertise?
I wouldn’t say I have one specific area of expertise, but rather a diverse knowledge of many areas that when combined together usually keeps me out of trouble and helps me get the job done.
What was your first job? How did it prepare you for your current position?
My first job in no way relates to my current position or career path. At 15 years old, I sold t-shirts and other apparel/memorabilia at NASCAR races and other large events. During the summer months, I would travel from the Michigan International Speedway to Daytona with many places in between and set up a tent stand and sell merchandise. We would make the shirts on demand from various designs through a hot press transfer process. It was interesting because I would meet all types of people and I traveled weekly. The job did not end when summer was over. During the winter months, I would screen print various designs onto transfer paper in preparation for the next summer’s list of events. Each event would have several different designs for customers to choose from all multi-colored designs. This job was the backbone to developing a solid work ethic.
How did you end up at NCEI?
After a decade of working various manufacturing jobs, the constant running, lifting, and repetitious work started to take a toll on my body. I decided I needed a new career path. I enjoyed working on computers in my spare time and decided to attend the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College where I worked towards an associate’s degree in Information Systems and then earned a second degree in Web Technologies. While finishing up the last year for the Information Systems degree, I was encouraged to apply for the position as a Computer Operator for what was then NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). I spent a couple of years in that position before moving on to Hardware Technician. After a couple of years in that, I worked for a year as the Computer Operations Supervisor before ending up in my current role as Inventory Management Specialist back at NCEI.
What does a usual workday look like for you?
My day varies day to day, but my primary job is to maintain a database and keep records of all personal property accountable assets for NCEI’s North Carolina and Maryland locations. I ensure the property is preserved and is used for official government purposes. I conduct physical inventories, account for the location of property, keep hand receipts, and issue property passes. I also support the Logistics Branch in space management as well as being the fleet manager and I’m the point of contact in Asheville for Export Controlled Technology.
What question are you asked most often when someone finds out what you do? How do you respond?
How do you keep up with all that equipment? I usually don’t have to keep up with it as long as I keep my database well sustained and updated. I also keep meticulous records that I can refer back to when needed.
What sort of training and education would one need for your job?
Database management and knowledge of various types of IT equipment are very helpful with this job as well as knowing the Department of Commerce regulations when working with accountable personal property.
What inspired you to pursue a career in your field?
Should probably be who inspired me; my predecessor Larry Carr. As a hardware technician, I worked closely with Larry on the inventory team during the required annual inventories. I was intrigued by this position and all the work it encompassed. Upon Larry’s retirement, I was recommended for the position and happily took the opportunity.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Mostly the people. There are a number of unsung heroes within NCEI that keep everything running smoothly. Many of whom are interesting people. When conducting inventories I get a chance to talk with them or see them in action.
Who are you outside of your career?
I am an avid kayaker and enjoy traveling. My wife and I spend many days out on the water with our kayaks, finding cool places to paddle and enjoy the wildlife. I also like photo and video editing. I have a YouTube channel (kayak7seas) which allows me to combine my hobbies. Kayaking allows me to see the world from a different perspective and why the water is very important to me. Honing in my video editing skills helps me build stories from the places we've been and to share the experiences with others.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
When not traveling to find the next kayak adventure I volunteer with Asheville Greenworks and MountainTrue on river cleanups or when in Florida I participate in beach cleanups with Keep Brevard Beautiful. I take monthly water samples from various creeks for the Environmental Quality Institute in Asheville.
I have two grown children who are out there gaining their experiences from life. One lives in Michigan and the other in North Carolina.
Last country visited?
The last country I visited would have been Japan in 1994. My ship, the USS Dubuque, was forward deployed and its home port was Sasebo, Japan. My wife is from Japan. Although we haven’t been back there in some time, I’d love to go back and see how much it has changed.