It’s fairly common for companies to refer to their employees as a family; in C-TRAN’s case, that old adage can be taken literally for a good amount of our workforce.
C-TRAN isn’t a huge company. We have 447 employees currently, and of those employees, there are members of roughly 24 different families who happen to be related by blood, adoption, or marriage. With a wide range of different roles within the company and varying schedules, there’s a good chance that many of those working with a relative don’t cross paths on a typical day at work. Of course, there are rules preventing family members from supervising each other to avoid conflicts of interest, but outside of that, C-TRAN is happy to receive referrals for good employees, related or not.
One of the families working together at C-TRAN is the Tyler family, which includes mother Perise and her sons Chris, Kelly, and Pesi. Perise is a fixed-route operator, and Chris drives C-VAN. Kelly and Pesi both work in Maintenance.
Talking to Perise, the Tyler family matriarch, it’s easy to see why most of her kids have followed her to C-TRAN. Perise is a delight, and countless passengers and employees have had the pleasure of riding with her over nearly three decades. She is engaging and friendly, and brimming with positivity. Longtime C-TRAN passengers, especially on the former Route 4 and currently The Vine on Fourth Plain, are likely very familiar with her—since she joined C-TRAN in 1995, she’s spent many years on those routes.
Perise first arrived in Portland in August of 1989, following her sister and mother to the United States from Samoa.
Within a few years, Perise found her way to the transportation industry. She got her CDL and started driving a school bus, then shuttle buses at Portland International Airport. While at PDX, she turned her focus to working for public transportation.
“We were driving at the airport, and some workers there said, ‘Come on, let’s go apply for a job at TriMet.’ I ended up working at C-TRAN,” Perise says. “I jumped in my car, came across, didn’t know anything about Vancouver, trying to find the building with the directions they gave me. I’m on Andresen and Mill Plain; I looked down and saw all the buses. So I followed Andresen down, made my way down, found all the buses, went in there, and grabbed an application, and there you go.”
“That’s where it started.”
Perise’s oldest son was the next Tyler to join the C-TRAN team. He started in 1999, a few years after his mother, and worked here for 11 years before moving to the next stop in his career.
“It’s funny; I have four boys and one girl. My oldest son started here after I did as a vehicle service worker, Perise says. “Then the next one, Pesi, was in vehicle service, and then there comes Kelly, the same way, vehicle service. Then this one over here [Chris], he wanted to be in Maintenance, too, but it was kind of good he—”
“Went a different route,” Chris jumps in, finishing Perise’s sentence as they sit together for this conversation. “It’s pretty nice; I enjoy it.”
Pesi currently works as a diesel mechanic, and Kelly works as a facility maintenance worker. Kelly, the oldest Tyler son that currently works for C-TRAN, says he sees his family about twice a week.
“I usually see my mom because she drives around a lot,” he says. “On Saturdays, I would always see my brother Pesi because he works the graveyard shift, and I work the early morning shift.”
Kelly says that working with his family is normal for him. His mom and two of his brothers already worked for C-TRAN when he started in 2006. “When we’re at work, it’s professional. When we’re at home, we just talk about home stuff. Very rarely do we talk about work. It’s like, I’ve been here for eight-plus hours. I’m okay,” Kelly adds, laughing.
Chris was Perise’s last son to join C-TRAN’s employee roster in 2021. He worked in retail for 22 years before being hired as a demand-response coach operator. He initially applied for Maintenance, and when that didn’t work out, Perise suggested he apply to drive C-VAN. He applied, got an interview, and the rest is Tyler family history. Perise also has one daughter, who works in the medical field.
The Tyler family is close-knit outside of work. All of the children live in Vancouver or Battle Ground near their mother. Pesi even lives right around the corner from Perise.
“Every time I drive by, the grandkids, especially my granddaughter, will say, ‘Can I go to Grandma’s house?’ And her mom cannot lie to her because if they go by the house from school, they see my car,” Perise says. I’ve usually worked every holiday for the past however many years, but these past couple of years, I’ve started to slow down. If it works with my family’s schedule, it makes everyone happy.”
Even with the occasional odd encounter, Chris says he enjoys working with his family.
“It’s good, Chris says. “When I see my mom some days, it’s like, ‘Uh, hello, mom,’ but it’s good.”
Perise chimes in: “Mm-hmm, sometimes, if I bring something for lunch and know it’s something they like, I’ll say, ‘Here, Chris!’ And he’ll say, ‘What’s this, Mom?’ I’ll say, ‘It’s what you like.’”
Chris says he’s learned a new appreciation for his mother’s work since becoming a driver himself.
“I’m not going to lie, when I was younger, I’d say, ‘Your job’s not tough!’ when I was a little punk kid. Now I’m driving, and I’m like, man, this is tough.”
“Even when they were young,” Perise replies, “they would come and ride with me sometimes, and they’d say, ‘Mom, how could you deal with that?’ And I’d say, ‘What? I don’t deal with anything.’
“You just learn to be patient,” Chris adds.
The Tylers see each other from time to time on the job. Chris and Perise may exchange a wave on the road, Chris in a C-VAN and Perise on The Vine. Kelly, who works in Facilities Maintenance, might spot his mother or brother while at a transit center or bus stop.
When Chris and Perise sat down at C-TRAN’s administrative office recently for this interview, a passenger approached the building looking for Lost and Found. He recognized them both. When he heard Chris refer to Perise as Mom, he realized these two familiar faces were part of the same family that’s been serving C-TRAN and Clark County for almost 30 years.