Roland “Mr. Em” Emetaz

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Ambition has range.  At its ugliest, opportunism has a tendency to lead one to take from others; at its purest, one tends to serve others.  

Roland Emetaz’s sense of ambition is virtuous: to serve.  

On April 26, 1975, the University of Puget Sound community sadly lost five young adults to an avalanche on Mount St. Helens.  The institution later released a report that explained “only a handful of very experienced avalanche experts would have recognized the potential of such an avalanche there at that time” (Nolte, 2013).  The impact has been felt for more than 40 years since.

Rescue team member, Roland Emetaz, told me of his emphasized resolve to serve others after his expertise then led to discovery of two of the deceased.  

When asked what is his sense of ambition, his answer came easily: service.


Roland is a Liaison Officer for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s Northwest Incident Management Team (#12).  He and others serve communities and agencies that are in trouble, for example, due to wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist incidents, etc.  Roland’s job is multi-faceted.

In part, Roland forges relationships with the communities in which he and his teams operate “to leave them better than how the team found them.”

He is quick to show a reminder he carries with him.  In his field notebook is a phrase: “Face-to-Face [is] better than Facebook.”  Interpersonal communication is hugely important, and a reason for constituents to have trust in both him and his teammates.

Another portion of Roland’s scope is to handle the unforeseen, and ensure that challenges to mission do not adversely impact the team. He strongly believes in partnerships, and diversity – of people, ideas, experience, culture and mindfulness of one’s duties. Roland quipped, “No one on a team ever says ‘Oh, that’s not my job.’” Keeping in mind the uncontrollable dangers he and his teammates face, the notion is sensible, and saves lives.

Giving Back

Safety has been Roland’s lifelong passion.  These days he conducts avalanche awareness training.  And, he does so for free.

His best achievements are receiving notice from a few former trainees who tell him how his instruction saved their lives.  Roland’s face indicated incredulousness at the thought of anything being of a higher order.

He does more, though.  Roland sits on the boards of

“Give ’em the Pickle!”

Bob Farrell of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour inspired Roland with a rather famous video he created.  The intent was to teach others his philosophy on customer service.

The story goes a regular customer complained to Bob by letter.  He had been most recently charged for the extra pickle he always requested and got for free.  Bob made that story a staple of his service philosophy. “Do what it takes to make things right!” [and give ‘em the pickle!] (Media Partners, 2018) .

A reminder note card Roland shared with me.

Doing what it takes to make things right is thematic in Roland’s ambition.  From sound interpersonal communication with a sprinkling of humor, gaining others’ trust, getting the job done, and providing others the means to be safe or return to a safe state, Roland meets his promise and potential.  As he did when we parted ways, I’ll repeat for my reader’s lasting impression: service to others, partnerships, diversity, and giving back.

Nolte, G. (2013). Nina Cargill Engebretsen (6 Sep 1956–26 Apr 1975), Find A Grave Memorial no. 119512931. [online] Find A Grave. Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].

Media Partners (2018). The Pickle Principle. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].

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Published by Rehr Consulting

Danny Rehr is a graduate of University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business where he earned an MBA with a concentration in strategy. He now operates Rehr Consulting, a strategy and continuous improvement consultancy focused on small businesses in the service industry of Southwest Washington State. He loves coffee and fountain pens.

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