Case Studies

John Mattero  

He wants to lead the charge for EV mobility/transit 

The armed forces—in particular, the United States Navy —beckons young recruits, and while John Mattero opted for the Navy, it was with the intent of optimizing his skills as well as personally responding to the homeland’s most grievous post-Pearl Harbor atrocity. 

John Mattero | Eastern Director of Field Services   

John Mattero | Eastern Director of Field Services

“It was 9/11, and my brother and I were in college when terrorists hit the Twin Towers,” he recalls. “We both wanted to make an impact, and I also needed discipline, organization and purpose, and one month later—on my mother’s birthday—we both left school and enlisted. All those things check off when you’re serving your country.” 

Neither brother returned to academia, but both have fared just fine in military and civilian life. For Mattero, his discipline, organization and purpose were forged in uniform from 2002 to 2022. He split his 20 years of combined service between active duty for 11 years and as an active reservist for nine years. His boots were on the flight deck of various aircraft carriers.  

During those deployments, he served as an Aviation Ordnanceman (weapons technician) on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet with an aircraft squadron out of South Carolina based in MCAS Beaufort. Mattero earned his sea legs on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf at the ripe age of 20, where he supported Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom during his last deployment in 2005, provided humanitarian relief in Indonesia following the 2004 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that killed about 200,000 people.  

Upon returning to the U.S., he taught water survival to aircraft pilots, NASA crew members and aircrew from various countries at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Once his tour in Pensacola concluded, Mattero looked for a new way to challenge his technical acumen and was selected to attend US Navy P-3C Flight Engineer School. Flight Engineers are considered the technical system and subsystem subject matter experts on the P-3C Orion. In addition to knowing the technical side of most aircraft systems, they also operate the aircraft engines at the start-up and aircraft takeoff. FEs, as they are called, have very demanding responsibilities both while in flight and on the ground during engine testing. The school is very competitive, with an attrition rate of over 50 percent.  

Despite the rigorous program, Mattero graduated. Post graduation, Mattero served with various P-3 squadrons in Jacksonville before ending his active duty time in the Navy. After an honorable discharge from active duty in early 2012, Mattero joined the  Navy Reserves, where he continued his service to this great nation until he retired after 20 years of service in December of 2022.  

Mattero’s first job after coming off active duty was as a flight mechanic for a company that owned hospital helicopters. Mattero worked in this role briefly before finding his current opportunity with a heavy-duty EV OEM in the public transit space called Proterra.  

Electronic vehicles seemed a far-fetched option, and while Mattero lacked EV training per se, he had seen Jay Leno explaining the basics of the technology available by Proterra at the time on YouTube and prided his own critical thinking in any mechanical endeavor. The transit and mobility industries seemed to trend toward electric vehicles, and with the start of Tesla, it was his chance to get in on the ground floor with a small U.S.-based company.  

Watt’s his game 

He’s been doing so for over a decade, mostly recently with a California-based EV OEM. 

Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, and now mostly rooted in South Florida, he oversees field service operations for his current employer in the Eastern Region of North America. His area of responsibility spans from as far south as Miami to as far north as Toronto, ONT, having earned his creds as a technician and his personnel skills in the Navy.  

John Mattero | Eastern Director of Field Services   

He’s led charger interoperability (compatibility) projects at some of the larger customers in North America. He’s also created numerous safety policies and procedures for his team and regularly interacts with business partners and authorized service providers. He also decides if and when product improvements are implemented and regularly addresses escalated customer concerns.  

In a manner befitting of an adaptable part, Mattero says he’s at ease when talking to executives, C-suite members or on the floor with technicians. Still, he’s looking for a more comprehensive leadership position, possibly as a vice president of field services/support with input in quality control, personnel, finance, customer service and operations. 

His time is coming, he says, explaining how the EV industry generally moves by increments eastward from its West Coast stronghold and how he’s anticipating a tidal wave once logistical issues are addressed. EVs are still in their infancy stage, and mass adoption will occur in the coming years with some automotive companies—including General Motors, Ford and Tesla—allocating billions of dollars towards charging infrastructure and high-voltage battery technology. Mattero says the industry’s hurting for the practical experience he can offer to a farsighted company. 

“There are lots of people in the EV space, but they may only know vehicles and lack experience in charging,” he tells Blueprint in March. “That’s where I can help. I’ve educated my team on the high-voltage battery associated systems and low voltage control side necessary to power vehicles.” 

While Mattero lacks an engineering degree, he’s studied aviation science and technology at Florida State College of Jacksonville and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and coupled his classroom learning with Naval and airfield service that he says allows him to see all sides of an industry that can’t help but be beset by growth pains. He also regularly closely follows the electric vehicle/ electric vehicle support equipment industries.  

John Mattero | Eastern Director of Field Services   

Coordination’s lacking, he explains, among the original equipment manufacturers and other industry players. Chargers might look alike, but they’re not always interchangeable. Apply a Ford charger to a Chevrolet, and he says there might be minor compatibility problems, resulting in the vehicle not charging. In time, Mattero expects standardization in the EV space and says that will help iron out some of these wrinkles. He thinks he could help in various ways in that area.  

Practical experience to boot 

Mattero says his years within the electric vehicle space have been well spent. Given the supply-chain shortages and vendor uncertainties, some EV companies have been innovators and may be ahead of their time. A decade ago, the EV space was essentially Tesla, but dozens of companies have since tested the waters. Some have been very successful at being first to market, having most of the market share. He feels the hardest thing to do for any company is to retain most of the industry market share for an extended period.  

John Mattero | Eastern Director of Field Services   

“There’s potential for this industry to grow exponentially in the next five to 10 years,” he says. “We’ve got government mandates and programs to incentivize growth. What’s happening west is moving this way.” 

Mattero says he’s poised to take advantage. The aircraft expertise he brought to the job has been augmented by automotive experience, and Mattero says similarities can be found among systems that propel any vehicle. He says he has a holistic view of future transportation that includes electric vertical aircraft, EV-powered commercial and recreational watercraft and, of course, electric commercial planes, buses, trucks and cars. 

“And all of them will need chargers,” he quickly reminds. 

One size isn’t likely to fit all, but Mattero says there’s much room for standardization, and he literally wants to lead the charge. So, he’ll keep networking and adding to his skill set. 

Regarding future opportunities, he’s interested in anywhere in the U.S. and remote work is preferred. Mattero doesn’t mind traveling one bit, though, both domestically and internationally. 

“My second passion is animals,” he says. “Especially our dogs.” 

His time playing with them might soon be compromised—while the EV industry has sputtered, it’s bound to go forward once the logistics and financials are solved. Mattero’s eagerly doing his part. 

“I love the technological side of the EV space,” he says. “Call me an EV nerd. I bring a technological aspect and relationship management skillset that even the most seasoned professionals in this space do not have, which can be very advantageous to many organizations. 

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2024 Edition here.

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