SHEILA LENZ, FACILITIES SUPERVISOR
Here’s the main thing to know about Sheila Lenz: if you ever visit, she’s going to know you. Lenz laughs about it: “I kind of feel like the mom of the whole company. My office is in the guardhouse, but when I moved from our Safety department to Facilities Management, I asked to stay out here. I see everyone come in, I see everybody go home. I’m the first person you see in the morning, and the last person you see when you leave.” Press maintenance, code compliance, mechanical systems, custodial needs, landscaping, and clearing snow from the parking lot: whatever the company needs, Lenz and her crew are on the job.
“Facilities is here 7 days a week. People are on 12-hour shifts manning the presses, even all weekend. We have people who come in at 2:30 in the morning, and the last person leaves at 11:30 at night. Our work boils down to one thing: If you can’t take care of the basic needs of the employees and make sure they have a comfortable environment with what they need to work, you can’t take care of the needs of the customer.” Lenz herself is no stranger to long days.
She grew up on a Southern Indiana farm, and remembers rising before dawn to help her mother with the cows. That work ethic remains with her still; Lenz typically arrives at her office as early as 5:30 a.m. on weekdays, and works about 6 hours on Saturdays, too: over the years, raised two daughters as a single mother and earned her college degree in her off hours.
She says, “I completely understand getting it done.” Lenz says “getting it done” is what Discount Labels is all about, too. Further, she believes that the large number of women who work here contribute to this ethos. “Women are very good at multi-tasking, and you have to have that here. You’re working on the computer, and someone calls and you have to switch gears ... Women are good at this … we see where the need is, and we get it done and go on.” Lenz believes women also have a lot to do with the company atmosphere. It’s not just the quality of the work, but the quality of the work experience here. Lenz says, “You see the women bringing things together in a department. Even in the Press department, where there are mostly men, it’s the women who seem to try to make it a good place to come to work to.
You can’t have just work. You’ve got to have a balance of both, emotionally and physically, and I think women bring that to the table.” She continues, “We have a family attitude here. We have bonded because we’ve experienced happiness, sadness, death, illness, and most of all, we’ve experienced work together. I’ve always called us my work family. I’ve been here 35 years as of September, and I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. It keeps me young, working here.”
KIM RALSTON, CUSTOMER SERVICE MANAGER
Customer Service Manager Kim Ralston has been with Discount Labels for 25 years. She laughs, “I’ve been
here half my life!” Ralston remembers how different the business was back then: “I started in the Prepress
Department, where we actually had to process physical artwork that was sent to us … Now everything’s in
email and digital format.” It wasn’t long before Ralston was promoted to Customer Service, and in Customer Service she truly excels. “You have to do what you have to do to get the job done… and Discount Labels empowers us to make it happen.”
In addition to her team of 10 agents, Ralston credits Discount Labels’ proprietary order-processing system
for the company’s outstanding service. It allows any Customer Service representative to help every
customer at any point in the process. Ralston’s agents take roughly 400 phone calls per day, fielding all
kinds of questions and requests, and the system is “a big help.”
“Our whole goal is to be able to service the order on the first phone call. Even if the customer happens to
call into the wrong department, whoever answers the phone can see the order in real time, and make notes
and resolve any issues. Whether the customer has specified a different color or needs to make a stock
change, we can help. Plain and simple … we work it so we don’t have to transfer the customers’ calls.”
Ralston says she’s not unique in her long experience with Discount Labels. “We’ve got a lot of employee
longevity, even our hourly employees.” When asked why, she credits Discount Labels’ family atmosphere.
“The family atmosphere is instilled here. Our founders are family, and helping each other out is kind of
ingrained. That family atmosphere has been a help for all of us, and even our customers. We understand
when a customer is in a bind, and we want to help.”
Later, we talked about what Ralston thinks Discount Labels means to customers. She says, “For customers,
I think we are reliable, easy to work with, and most important, we’re a partner. We’re not just someone
customers throw work over to … we see them turn to us for guidance, expertise, as a resource – not another
vendor, or faceless supplier. Whether it’s specialized solutions or more straightforward catalog orders, we
are consultants, experts, guides, and partners. “It’s been so good to work here because we have
the ability and support to make it happen. My team has to feel comfortable doing the right thing for the
customer, and the ENTIRE company supports it, from management to shipping.”