From material handler to DLA Distribution Jacksonville director: A spotlight on Brian Burkholder’s career

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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A former distribution center commander once told him “Your success was related to three things that are hard to find in one person: being smart, common sense, and knowing how to deal with people,” said Brian Burkholder, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Jacksonville, Fla., director.  He has carried those words with him over the years, referring back to them, ensuring he worked well with his supervisors, peers and subordinates.

Burkholder was born in Pennsylvania, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1986, where he spent six years as a field artillery surveyor.  He served overseas with the 3/32 Field Artillery Battalion in Germany. Upon completion of his tour he served with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1/77 Field Artillery, Fort Knox, Kn., then returned overseas to serve with the 1st Battalion 27th Field Artillery Battalion, deploying as a survey chief to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

After completion of his Army enlistment, Burkholder worked his way from warehouseman and driver to distribution operations specialist/manager for a leading beverage wholesaler.  He served in this capacity until he was selected as a material handler with DLA Distribution Europe located in Germersheim, Germany, in January 2002.

He says working at the distribution center was the highlight of his career.  “I was afforded the opportunity to be part of the team that developed the center into a world class distribution platform,” said Burkholder. “I enjoyed my beginnings as a material handler, picking and packing, to assisting the various commanders in leading the organization as the deputy commander with many rewarding and challenging jobs in between.”

He also served as Issue Division chief, overseeing the storage, issue, packaging and shipping of customer requisitions, and was DLA Distribution Europe’s operations officer for a little more than a year, where he was responsible for the overall effectiveness of distribution center operations.  Selected as the organization’s deputy commander in December 2008, he remained in this position until his departure in May 2013.

“I feel very fortunate for all of the experiences that employment with DLA has provided, especially the experience to live and work overseas in Germany during an essential time in our history supporting the Warfighter hands on,” said Burkholder.

He also says he appreciated the opportunity for travel under DLA. Those opportunities included traveling to DLA’s distribution center in Sicily to assist with the selection of supervisors. He’s been to Iraq to develop the Multi-National Security Transition Command -Iraq plan to train the Iraqi Army in the art of supply and logistics at the Taji National Depot, and was selected to represent DLA on the CENTCOM led team to negotiate the expansion of the Northern Distribution Network with the foreign ministries in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally, Burkholder was selected to travel to Rota, Spain, to assist with the storage and distribution plan of developing Rota as a DLA distribution site detachment.

“Along with travel, working for DLA provided me the opportunity to meet with and learn from many of the finest general/flag officers and senior leaders in the world,” said Burkholder.

From DLA Distribution Europe, Burkholder became the director of the Eastern Supply Operations Center with the General Services Administration.  He then decided to return to his DLA roots and became the director of DLA Distribution Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 27, 2014.

Throughout his career, ranging from enlisted military to private sector and finally settling in civil service, Burkholder has had the opportunity to work and learn from many great supervisors.  He says he has been able to learn something from each of them, which he has used to fine tune his leadership skills as an agency-level leader.

His advice to all who follow him and anyone just entering federal service, “Learn your job and learn it well. Focus on mastering the duties and the rest will come.”

Additionally, Burkholder recommends pursuing desirable jobs. “I believe some of my success came from not applying for certain positions within reach just for a promotion, sometimes all money is not good money.”

Overall, Burkholder feels the men and women of DLA are hardworking and caring people who take their jobs very seriously. He is very excited to have the opportunity to return to DLA and lead the great Jacksonville team.

“Working hard will provide endless opportunities,” said Burkholder.