Doing the Heavy Lifting: How Matt Yuknis Made a Career Out of Carrying His ‘Weight’

By James Tehrani

When I spoke with PrismHR Customer Success Manager (CSM) Matt Yuknis last October about profiling him for our blog, he was a little concerned that he wouldn’t have enough interesting stories to share about his life and career.

He even went so far as to tell me he was thinking of the Matchbox Twenty song “How Far We’ve Come,” which includes the lyrics: “Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?” before our interview.

“The biggest problem that I have, my wife will tell me this, is: ‘You do a terrible job at promoting yourself,’” he says that she says. “Not that I don’t have examples, but when I do stuff, I don’t really think of it as that big of a deal.”

You’re right, Megan Yuknis; your husband does appear to be quite good at underselling his accomplishments. Let’s fix that.

Even though Matt’s a bit soft-spoken, he still oozes with that “Boston Strong” mentality. And perhaps because he grew up playing drums, there appears to be a rhythm and beat to everything he says. For sure, he’s the opposite of braggadocious. When there’s work to be done, he just does it and does everything he can to get it done right the first time. That’s especially true when it comes to helping his customers at PrismHR succeed.

He cares.

“Matt is always going the extra mile for his clients,” said Melissa Eversole, PrismHR’s director of Customer Success. “He will do whatever it takes to help resolve an issue for one of his clients. He focuses on present and future success and takes the partnership seriously. He puts the client’s needs above anything else and is a true advocate for them.”

That probably explains why Matt says the best part of his job is meeting with his customers and helping them find ways to solve their problems. And in the rare instance when he’s not able to help for whatever reason, he says the hardest part is not being able to find a solution for them. He takes a full-transparency approach, but it still weighs on him.

Carry That Weight

You can tell he carries a lot of weight on his shoulders when it comes to looking out for his customers’ best interests, which makes sense since he knows a thing or two about carrying a lot of weight.

In the summers during college, he would work for his uncle, who worked for the Sealer of Weights & Measures division in Taunton, Massachusetts. Sealers are tasked with enforcing the accuracy of weight when it comes to food, fuel and other items. So Matt would tag along with his mother’s brother during the summertime when he visited various businesses to test the accuracy of their scales.

Taunton, known as the “Silver City,” is one of the oldest towns in the country. It’s about a half-hour south of Foxborough where the New England Patriots play and an hour due south of Boston. It gets its nickname from the booming silver industry that set up shop there in the 1800s.

It might be a town known for its silver production, but Matt’s recollection of his time working there during college is pure gold.

“I’d walk around with two hundred-pound weights in my hand or pull them,” he said, “and we’d measure big scales.”

Every day, Matt would weigh himself and then go to factories and such to ensure that the scales they were using were calibrated properly. He knew how much he weighed, and he knew how much the two hundred-pound weights weighed, so if he got a different answer on a business’ scale about the weight as he carried his weight, he knew there was a problem.

It was a lot of hard work, of course, that helped make Matt mentally and physically strong. He never minded the physically demanding work except once a year when they paid a visit to a grain factory. He’d have to climb a ladder to the third floor with only one hand. In the other hand, he carried one of those heavy weights, the equivalent of about five bags of dry dog food or as much as what a baby foal from a 1,000-pound mare weighs at birth. One false step on a rung and his bell would certainly have been rung, but he never slipped or fell. He always made it to the top.

Read our profiles of CSMs Melissa Eversole and Jason Ward.

“The first year I went there, I carried up 100 pounds, one hand,” Matt said. “I get up to the top, and I go, ‘It’s broken.’” His uncle responded, ‘Ohh, come on down,’ ” half in English, half in Italian. “The next year we come in, I swear he did it to me on purpose every year, he said, ‘Matt, scale, third floor, ladder.’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s broken.’”

Still, his uncle insisted, and just like the first year, Matt climbed the ladder with the heavy weight in tow and the outcome was the same: broken. They performed the same routine four straight years, but the lesson in hard work lasted a lifetime.

From Carrying Iron to Playing on the Gridiron

The physical strength he gained from lugging around those weights came in handy when he played football wearing No. 56 for the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs, which is a type of pirate. He played left guard, which is a key blocking position on the offensive line, tasked with protecting the quarterback or blocking for a tailback. Being an offensive lineman takes more than strength, it takes discipline, too. Move too soon, and you’re offsides and hit with a penalty, and since most quarterbacks are right-handed, the left guard plays a pivotal role in protecting the quarterback’s blindside.

For Matt, not being blindsided is an essential part of his success, which can be seen in his preparation and work ethic. During college, he also had a job at a Buick dealership working on interior and exterior maintenance. Part of his job was to do landscaping and other tasks he wasn’t familiar with at the time, but he learned quickly. He followed the dealership’s advice to him closely: “Plan it out, manage it and do it.”

Career Move

His older brother, Bill could not hear and had to read lips growing up, but he always seemed to know what he wanted to do in life. Matt matter-of-factly explains that his big brother now works for NASA as a rocket scientist. He played a key role in developing the James Webb Space Telescope, which is designed to study “every phase in the history of our universe.” No biggie, right? Right …

“What he does now is what he did as a kid, puttering with stuff and so forth,” Matt says. “When I got out of school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”.

It didn’t take long for his career path to form and his job responsibilities to take off.

He entered the HR tech space in 2001 when he joined ADP, and he quickly moved up the ranks. He went from operations to supervisor to resolution team manager and later migration service team manager over a 16-year career. He left when he was asked to move for his role, which wasn’t in his or his family’s best interest.

The break in employment gave him an opportunity to spend more time with his mom, who had a serious health issue. Matt got to spend quality time with his mom, Dorothy, before she passed away about five years ago. His dad, Ronald, passed away about five years before she did. Matt lists his mom and dad as two big influences on his life and work ethic. Both were teachers, and were always putting others first, he said.

When he was ready to re-enter the workforce, he eventually found his way into real estate, sort of by accident. It was his wife who originally signed up for real estate classes, but when she found out about the time commitment, she decided she didn’t have the time to do it.

She then thought about Matt. He was looking for a new job, and the timing was perfect for a change. He even ran into a former football teammate who was a broker, and wanted Matt to come work for him. His friend was also looking for someone to be a project manager for the houses that needed to be fixed up before being flipped, and that’s where Matt’s background in fixing things came in handy.

He liked the work, but it wasn’t his passion. He wanted to get back into the HR game. He applied to PrismHR twice, but didn’t make the cut. The third time, he did something that was well out of his comfort zone: He spent time brushing up his resume and emphasizing his accomplishments. He finally was hired in 2019, and PrismHR is happy that he kept pursuing the company because Matt is a well-liked colleague who excels at helping his customers.

Matt’s also well-liked by the customers he works with.

Christian Tracey
Chief Technology Officer
Group Management Services Inc.

Group Management Services Inc. is a PEO based in Richfield, Ohio, and Matt has worked closely with its chief technology officer, Christian Tracey.

“Matt has been a consistent and loyal advocate for GMS, and we are grateful to have him on our team,” Tracey said. “When an issue arises, as they do sometimes, Matt has been instrumental in representing GMS internally and working to achieve results that work for both parties. GMS is grateful for the support and attention Matt gives us day to day, and in reacting to the changing needs of GMS.”

Family Comes First

Outside of work, Matt loves spending time with Megan, who he met on a blind date and has been married to for 22 years. He also lives with grade-school-age daughter, Lilly; and son, Benjamin, who is headed off to college next year, which is going to be tough for Matt who calls his son “one of my best friends.”

“I’m a big ‘Teach a man to fish’ type of person,” Matt explained.

That’s probably why he’s always fishing for ways to help his customers anyway he can, and why he’s not afraid to do a little heavy lifting to get the job done.

James Tehrani is PrismHR’s digital content marketing manager. He is an award-winning writer and editor based in the Chicago area.