Q & A with Andrew DiRusso
Meet Palmetto Carriage Works employee Andrew DiRusso. He was nominated for April Employee of the Month, and we had so much fun learning more about him then that we decided to dig a little deeper and get to know him even more.
Q: How did you get involved in the carriage industry?
A: I first attempted to apply for a job at Palmetto Carriage as a barn hand in the Fall of 2007. I was told that hiring isn't done in the Fall and was asked to come back in February. As I recall, when I came back in February, Tom Doyle happened to be there and a prospective tour guide didn't show up for an interview. He interviewed me on the spot and hired me. I don't even remember filling out an application.
Q: Do you own horses? Or did you have any experience with equines before working in the industry?
A: I don't own horses but I would like to in the near future. I got my first part time job when I was twelve. My boss was a wonderful man named Everett Shea who was a retired Arabian horse breeder. He had two Arabians at that time and I was responsible for cleaning their stalls and grooming them occasionally.
Q: What brought you to Charleston?
A: I transferred from a restaurant in Bluffton to their Charleston location.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
A: I was born in Huntington, N.Y. I spent a week gutting houses in Chalmette, L.A. six months after Hurricane Katrina. I also spent a couple of months in Petersburg, A.K. gutting salmon. In 2014, I earned an Associate's Degree in Automotive Technology from Trident Technical College. My hobbies include riding my 1986 Honda Shadow with my wife and target shooting. I've been married for almost eight months and I joined the Army Reserves in March of 2010. One of my five tattoos is a team of mules to commemorate my carriage driving experience and my time spent at Palmetto Carriage.
Q: What made you decide to join the military?
A: I decided to join the Army because my grandfather served during WW2 and I felt the call to serve. Furthermore, military service offers a lot of great benefits. These include tuition assistance, very cheap insurance and pension plans just to name few.
Q: How does your military experience set you apart in your work life?
A: I would say that my military experience gives me an advantage in my work life. The Army has six Army Values including: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I practice these values twenty four hours a day and 365 days a year. Military service teaches you how to follow orders, pay attention to detail, manage time, make decisions in the absence of further instruction and so much more.
Q: What is a typical day like in the life of a tour guide?
A: As a carriage tour guide at Palmetto Carriage, my day starts officially thirty minutes before my shift is scheduled. At that time, we're allowed to clock in and get our carriages ready for the day. The first thing I do is figure out what team or single horse I'm driving and what carriage the animal(s) are hooked to. We check the carriages for cleanliness and make sure they're in good working order. We also check the animals' harness to make sure it is in good working order. One of the most important things we check at the start of and throughout the day is the animals' temperatures. Between tours, the animal(s) and I get at least a fifteen minute break. We won't usually do more than six tours in a day. Our fantastic barn crew handles the unhooking and undressing of the animals.
Q: What’s your favorite fun fact about Charleston that you share with your tours?
A: One of my favorite fun facts about Charleston is that starting in 1704, Charleston became one of a handful of walled cities in North America.