A: I went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. I started as a Chemistry major and ended up graduating with a double major of Political Science and Russian. I went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures. This is how I ended up at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, which eventually lead me to cross paths with Dr. Sun.
Q: What were you doing before you joined Cetis?
A: I lingered at the university for quite some time, and lets face it, I was pursuing an extremely impractical degree. I needed a “real job.” So answering a blind ad in the paper, I ended up in an interview with Dr. Sun. I will say that the company was small. It was in a little incubator with software startups and that is what I honestly thought Scitec was. The interview went well, but when he started explaining about the product line, I couldn’t help but think, “Hotel phones? Really? This guy is nice and all, but he’s crazy.” I have to be honest! Not accepting the position was for the better though. The time wasn’t right. I knew people in the local printing and copying market from my many part time/student jobs over the years and ended up with Ikon Office Solutions as a color copier specialist. That game is a tough one, but priceless experience in terms of sales fundamentals. Cold calling, forecasting, maintaining a clean sales pipeline, prospecting...how much business have you asked for today? How many touches? Document your work. Sales 101. My Sales Manager, Don Pierce, was an absolutely amazing mentor and his ways stick with me to this day. He was tough but fair. He was disciplined in everything he did. And could he close!!! I was pretty new, but my product line was high dollar, so if the branch needed some numbers to hit a target, he would check my pipeline and say, “Make us appointments with these before month end.” We would show up with blank contracts and leave with signatures. I got to watch the master at work.
Q: How did you come to join the Cetis/Scitec team?
A: I was driving down University Avenue, about a year after my interview with Scitec. That crazy Bing guy had his own building! Then, a few months later, I saw he was adding a warehouse. I got curious and stopped in under the guise of a cold call. Dr. Sun saw me, smiled, and said, “Come work with us now! I need good people. We have very, very important things to do!”
Q: What was your Cetis interview like?
A: It was pretty easy. We have always been able to “just talk” about anything and everything. Dr. Sun talked about Teledex and Telematrix and the steps we would need to take to acquire them. I had never heard of either, but his passion and plotting impressed me…leap of faith.
Q: You were hired for sales?
A: Yes. Right there in the call center. 100-120 outgoing calls each day. Smile and dial. We entered our own orders (on a Word template), tracked our own orders...inventory was done in Excel. We spent a lot of time explaining who we were. Also great experience. Spent a long time in that chair, but as it was described, it was important work to build the company. We were motivated! We had leadership.
Q: What have you have liked about working at Cetis the past 17 years?
A: This is something that I think about all of the time. It’s definitely the people first and foremost. My co-workers, customers, vendor friends, and the experiences we all create together. This is what drives me. I have made so many lifetime friends. At the office, we have a pretty eccentric cast of characters that get the job done and make it an enjoyable experience. There are veterans, there are some new people, but there is that core of people who “get it.” This understanding is what makes the place tick. It has nothing to do with tenure. And our customers? Behind the scenes, so many are just referred to by first names only, and everybody knows them. There is a bond and a trust. Sure, things can slip off the rails now and then, but we all know how to get things right again. They are part of the extended Cetis family and they know who they are. Never a dull moment. Lastly, I am so completely and utterly thankful for the experiences this company has brought to me. One day, I’m on a high speed train between Beijing and Shanghai, or standing on the Great Wall of China, or hanging out in the warehouse, or giving a presentation to 30 people with 5 minutes notice, or training new hires, or entertaining and plotting business at dive bars from Austin or Baltimore with people more important to me then they will ever know. Right now, I'm 35,000 feet above Alabama grinning ear to ear and feeling so blessed. I’m on my way back home to Colorado for the weekend.
Q: What do you do when you’re not selling phones?
A: Honestly, I am almost always selling. I was at dinner last night with some friends in the same line of work and we all laughed about the hours we happily and willingly keep. It’s a rush. Being pressed for an answer, when off the clock, I love the outdoors. We moved to Colorado in 2006 and aren’t even close to exploring all this state has to offer. Don’t judge me, but there is a certain lifestyle out here…if you start your Monday a little achy, a little hung over and a little sun burnt, you had a proper Colorado weekend! Sorry if I was a little long winded today!