“Go Big” This Labor Day Weekend with VPA at Six Flags!

Our group of over 180 employees who attended our company picnic last year. We hope to see every again this year, along with some new faces as well!

A group shot with some of the 180+ employees who attended our company picnic last year. We hope to see everyone again this year, along with some new faces as well!

Labor Day is a national U.S. holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. Held annually on the first Monday of September, workers are able to enjoy the activities of summer one last time before the chill of fall starts to roll in. The long weekend is a great opportunity for parties, barbecues, picnics, and other outdoor festivities. The end-of-summer tradition combined with the historical significance of Labor Day makes it the perfect time for Valet Park of America to host our annual employee appreciation picnic.

With employees at accounts in four different New England states, we try to find a central location to hold our company outing so that a high number of employees can attend and have an opportunity to interact with staff from other regions. Last year we selected Six Flags New England as the location for our outing. The event was a great success, so this year we decided to go back. We even were able to make some improvements based off of employee feedback about last year’s event! In addition to an improved dinner menu, we are also offering “special edition” VPA t-shirts, available to all employees in attendance. To ensure you get the right size and we have enough stock, please sign up ahead of the deadline, by August 12th. The admission sign-up deadline will still be 8/19, but we need to order shirts early, so you may not get a shirt if you wait too long!

Last year at the picnic we also held our inaugural “Moments that Matter” Award, a tradition we are proud to continue with this year. Five nominees are selected for the award from our Employees of the Month and prizes are awarded to third, second, and first place. Winners are determined by YOUR votes and must be present to win. We will be collecting votes in the near future once the nominees are determined. You do not have to present at the event to vote.

President Ted Chagnon with last year's top three winners of the Moments That Matter Award: Ricky Knorring (2nd place), Jon Clark (3rd place) and Micky Dumais (1st place)

President Ted Chagnon with last year’s top three winners of the Moments That Matter Award: Ricky Knorring (2nd place), Jon Clark (3rd place) and Micky Dumais (1st place)

Located just outside the company’s birthplace in Springfield, MA, Six Flags is also just a short drive from our Worcester, Hartford, Albany, and Boston accounts, with our Western New York and Southern CT accounts not too much farther. We anticipate seeing faces from every region in attendance this year. The event is being held on Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd. The deadline to sign up is Monday, August 19th – just two weeks away! If you are an employee interested in joining us for this event, please log in to your When To Work account for a sign-up form, or check our Facebook page for more details. We hope to see you there!

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Through the Ranks: Nick Schloesser

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“When I go out in the field and work a valet shift I feel rewarded when I go home. Customer service is something that I really enjoy doing deep down.”

 

Meet Nick Schloesser, our Western Massachusetts Regional Manager. Nick manages roughly 100 employees, including 10 Location Supervisors. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the region, Nick is responsible for creating the region’s schedule and handling Special Events within the region. He came to VPA in the beginning of 2006 as a valet attendant, fresh out of college. Recently, we sat down with Nick to share the story of how he turned his entry-level valet job into a career in management.

What were some of the locations you were working at when you first started?

I started at Baystate Medical Center. I really got along with everybody that I was working with at Wesson and Daly and I worked there pretty consistently. I was regularly at Bay State during the week and working the Delaney House on a Friday night. Eventually I was able to kind of manage Wesson here and there when the regular manager was on vacation. The recognition made me feel good about the job.

So from there were you able to start taking on even more responsibilities?

I really started taking on more responsibility once I moved to Albany, when we started valet service for St. Peter’s Hospital. I started here in January 2006 and in September, 9 months later, I was on my way to Albany. I kind of wanted a change of scenery and this was a good opportunity.

So you were part of that start-up crew?

Brian [Hiltpold, Capital New York Regional Manager] and Micky Dumais [Worcester area major account manager] went out there probably a month before I got there. We had originally started working with St. Peter’s doing their employee shuttling, and we did such a great job with that that they wanted us in there for the valet. So when that started I was there for day one of valet. Eventually I grew into an Assistant Manager role over at St. Peter’s.

Where did you go from being the Assistant Manager at St. Peter’s?

I was out in Albany for four years. I was kind of hanging around for Albany Medical Center because we were promised that we were going to be starting there and that actually ended up being a while. We started with the shuttle service at Albany Medical Center and were anticipating adding valet service as well. That started in ’09 and I was a manager over there for about a year. I came back to Springfield January 1st, 2010. I wasn’t unhappy with anything in Albany. I was making great money and I was working with great people. I just wanted to be back home and go back to school.

Once you returned to Western Massachusetts, what type of role were you able to settle into after gaining some managerial experience in Albany?

When I came back there wasn’t really any place for me to go. I was kind of bouncing around and managing Wing when Jacob [Johnson, Wing Hospital Manager] had a day off, and managing Bay State when Greg or Jay had a day off…. But I was doing weekend managing and Bay State Lot managing. I didn’t really have a home until I started managing Wing full-time, which was probably 10 months after I came home, in late 2010. I was at Wing for almost a year. I became Regional Manager in June 2011. It was a little bit of a rough start. This isn’t the easiest region to take over. Obviously we started here. We’ve been doing it for years. As time went on I started absorbing more of the responsibilities, the schedule, etc.

When you started here you were working at some of our older accounts, Wesson, Delaney House… Talk about some of the changes and expansion that you’ve seen the company go through since then.

When I started we all had to wait by the fax machine at Wesson for our schedule to come out, which was hand-written. Shortly after I started, the online scheduling program came out, which is an amazing piece of software. It can do so much. Obviously the growth that we’ve had since I started here; we were probably at 100 employees and now we’re at 600. That’s something. We had Bay State and UMASS in Worcester and some Restaurants and the Mountains in Vermont, and that was as big as we were. Now we’re all the way to Buffalo and down to the Bronx. The company has really streamlined everything, communication. The Franklin Covey system has made a big improvement. Working in Albany for as long as I did, it was hard to stay up to date on what was going on here in Western Massachusetts. For a short time we didn’t have the newsletter, which I missed and I think a lot of people did, too. The newsletter is definitely a great way to keep everybody on the same page. We were doing something called the Weekly Spotlight where Tim Duval would send out a quick email every weekend, a compliment we got or something. But the newsletter is great. My 4dx [My 4 Disciplines of Execution] is great. The expansion within the office is definitely great. When I started we had maybe four to six people in the office. Now it’s much larger. It helps out as a whole. It frees up a lot of time.The administrative staff takes a huge burden off of not only the regional managers but the directors of the company. That helps to keep the company moving in the right direction.

Nick (far right) pictured with other VPA Regional Managers and company executives. (Back row: Tim Duval, Director of HR; Allen Klinger, CT Regional Manager; Tim Graney, VP of Operations; Angela Chagnon, Senior VP of Operations; Ted Chagnon, President; Nick Schloesser, Western MA Regional Manager. Front: Nolan Skower, former Eastern MA Regional Manager; Brian Hiltpold, Albany Regional Manager; Jeff Sosnowich, Central MA Regional Supervisor.)

Nick (far right) pictured with other VPA Regional Managers and company executives at the incorporation of the Franklin Covey system. (Back row: Tim Duval, Director of HR; Allen Klinger, CT Regional Manager; Tim Graney, VP of Operations; Angela Chagnon, Senior VP of Operations; Ted Chagnon, President; Nick Schloesser, Western MA Regional Manager. Front: Nolan Skower, former Eastern MA Regional Manager; Brian Hiltpold, Albany Regional Manager; Jeff Sosnowich, Central MA Regional Supervisor.)

Can you talk about your personal progression that resulted from your growth within the company, going from valet, to assistant manager, to regional manager? What were some of the steps that you took to work your way up?

The number one thing that I look for when I’m moving my own staff up, and what I feel like was recognized within me, is you have to have leadership potential. I can recognize it easily. It was recognized in me. You have to have a good work ethic. I worked for somebody who has the best work ethic I’ve probably ever seen, Ted [Chagnon, President of VPA]. That’s something that I think every manager recognizes in his employees and feels that was recognized within him.

Did you face any challenges during your progression throughout these different roles?

As much as we try to get a handbook for this kind of stuff, there are some situations that are going to come up that we just don’t have any training for. Sometimes you’ve just got to wing it and do what makes sense and learn your way as you go. If any of my team gets stuck, they call me and I’m usually able to take care of it. If it’s something I’ve never seen before, I’ll call Tim Graney [VP of Operations] or Tim Duval [Director of Human Resources]. You still have somebody a little more experienced over you. And if I need to get a hold of the president of the company, I can. That’s really important. But you roll with it as you go and you learn your way. You can’t prepare for everything in one orientation or reading the handbook. You just kind of get out there and see what’s going on and figure out the best way to run your account. As you have problems, deal with them the best you can and if you don’t feel like you’re able to deal with them the right way, you always have somebody there to support you.

In dealing with different situations that you weren’t prepared for and having to come up with a solution on the spot, what motivated you to overcome those obstacles and continue your progression?

I’m a pretty competitive person so I see any kind of challenge as an opportunity to improve myself and gain more experience. I want to learn from everything I can. I want to be that guy that people can call and know what’s going on and what to do.

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Have you had any rewarding experiences or accomplishments, whether as a valet or a manager, that stand out?

When I go out in the field and work a valet shift I feel rewarded when I go home. Customer service is something that I really enjoy doing deep down. I get a little pent up when I’m sitting here in the office on my computer and on the phone. When I go home from being in the office all day I definitely won’t feel as rewarded as I do if I go home from working an actual valet shift. I think that’s something that nobody gets away from; good customer service. You don’t have to do anything major like push somebody out of the way that’s about to get run over, but just helping somebody out and getting them a wheelchair and taking time to show them that you’re there to care for them. You can see people recognize that when you come across them. There are times where I went above and beyond and went out of my way to help somebody out, but even just doing something simple for them makes me feel rewarded.

What do you like most about working for VPA?

The camaraderie, the family feel. I grew up with some of these guys. We’re definitely a family here. I like the job, even at its basic level. I like what I’m doing now. I like that I’ve been able to constantly get a change of pace and a change of scenery. I think that makes everything seem fresh. The opportunity of starting a new account obviously freshens it up. Going to Nantucket over the summer was awesome. It’s always evolving. It’s always changing. I think that’s a good thing.

Nick (pictured second from right) enjoying the camaraderie of VPA at the 2011 USO "Friends of the Forgotten Heroes" Golf Tournament with coworkers Mike Arsenault, Jay Guzman, and Jose Guzman.

Nick (pictured second from right) enjoying the camaraderie of VPA at the 2011 USO “Friends of the Forgotten Heroes” Golf Tournament with coworkers Mike Arsenault, Jay Guzman, and Jose Guzman.

What advice would you give to a new employee who is interested in advancement opportunities?

You’ve got to stick with it. Things aren’t always going to happen when you’re ready for them, but if you continue to show a strong work ethic, as soon as an opportunity comes along it will be there for you. It was frustrating for me when I came back to Springfield and didn’t really have much to do, but you just have to have patience. The company is going in the right direction. We’re getting more and more opportunities as opposed to less. That provides motivation to someone who’s looking to move up.

A Great Reason To Go Golfing!

 It’s time to break out the golf clubs for The 6th Annual “Friends of the Forgotten Heroes” golf tournament held at Elmcrest Country Club on Saturday, June 15, 2013! Registration is at 12:30 PM and the shotgun start is at 1:30 PM. The USO, a nonprofit that supports our troops, runs this event. Proceeds goes to the families, children, and our service men and women to help provide clothing, food, books, and basic necessities.
Joe Chakaus, Tim Duval, Joe Gree, and Mike Bishop stopped to take a photo at last year's tournament.

Joe Chakaus, Tim Duval, Joe Gree, and Mike Bishop stopped to take a photo at last year’s tournament.

If you would like to help out there are many ways to make a donation. You may sponsor a tee, provide raffle prizes, or make a cash donation. Credit card payments are accepted for registration, sponsorship, and donations by contacting Joe Green at 413-827-8916. It is $440 per team, this includes dinner and a 4-some. A single golfer and dinner is $110. A t-box sponsorship is $100 per t-box. Just dinner is $25/person. Registration is due by June 1st.

The tournament is a great value! The $110 registration fee includes the following:
• Cart and golf at Elmcrest Country Club (Private Course)
• Hamburger and Hot Dog Lunch
• Pig Roast Dinner
• A Ball Marker
• An extra round of golf at Elmcrest courtesy of Elmcrest management
Jon Clark, Jeff Sosnowich, Joe Belanger, and Paul Makowski at last year’s USO Golf Tournament

Jon Clark, Jeff Sosnowich, Joe Belanger, and Paul Makowski at last year’s USO Golf Tournament

Flag sponsorship is also available.
• Red Stripe Sponsorship is $5,000 and it includes a 3’X10’, 12 golfers and dinner, 6 dinner only tickets and a special gift.
• White Stripe Sponsorship is $3,500 and it includes a 3’X6 banner, 8 golfers and dinner, 3 dinner only tickets, and a special gift.
• Blue Stripe Sponsorship is $2,500 and it includes a 3’6’ banner, 4 golfers and dinner, 2 dinner only tickets and a special gift.
The tournament is always a fun time, we hope to see you all there!

Check out the following link for more info.  http://friendsofforgotten.com/.

 

A Summer On Nantucket Island

As spring winds down and the days get warmer, VPA prepares for the beginning of another great season on Nantucket Island, “The Faraway Island”. Between the long history, beautiful beaches, luxurious dining, and the quaint streets, this New England treasure is the place to be in the summer. We will be setting up our valet station downtown starting on June-September. To maintain the charming and picturesque feel that makes Nantucket so special, there aren’t many parking lots and there are no garages on the island. With thousands of visitors in the summer, parking becomes an issue. VPA’s valet service, conveniently located on Broad Street across from the Whaling Museum, provides an easy solution for visitors to enjoy their evening without the hassle of looking for parking.

Dan Caron, President Ted Changon, Jeff Belanger, and VP of Operations, Tim Graney at our downtown valet station

Rich Caron, President Ted Changon, Jeff Belanger, and VP of Operations, Tim Graney at our downtown valet station

Last year was our first year operating the town’s valet service. We sent over some of our senior employees to work this new account. Employees enjoyed the change of pace and scenery. Beach, sun, and waves; can’t beat a work location like that! Our employees came from all over our regions for the opportunity to stay in company-provided housing and work at Nantucket for summer.

Jeff Belanger and Henry Putnam at Galley Beach

Jeff Belanger and Henry Putnam at Galley Beach

We also provided valet service at one of the top restaurants on the island, Galley Beach. Restaurant guests enjoy the warm evenings overlooking the ocean while having their dinner. Providing valet service made it an even more pleasurable experience for the restaurant’s high-end clientele. Nantucket also makes for a luxurious wedding destination. Our private party valet service adds that extra measure of elegance for a Nantucket wedding.

We asked one of our employees, Henry Putnam, about his experience living on the island for a summer.

“Working on the island of Nantucket is a great summer experience, the work day starts at 5 and is usually done by midnight. The shifts are consistently busy so it goes by quickly.  In daytime there is plenty to do! Lots of nice beaches to visit and the days are beautiful, rarely humid or hotter than 85 degrees, most days are sunny and high 70s. The island has a vibrant young crowd with lots of fun people to meet, be it vacationers or other people working the summer on island. There is a live music venue, disc golf, bike trails and lots more. Absolutely take a bike, it’s a small island and a bike ride downtown is only 10 minutes, that said there are so many places to go! Lots of amazing scenery and best of all, no mosquitos!”

Some of our crew last year enjoying some downtime at the beach with President Ted Chagnon

Some of our crew last year enjoying some downtime at the beach with President Ted Chagnon

Johnny Inthaphiou, our Hartford Training Manager, spent some time last year working on the Island.  He shared with us his experience.

“My time in Nantucket was memorable to say the least. Being afforded the opportunity to work abroad as an ambassador for the company I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After a very short scenic ferry ride we arrived to the hustle and bustle of mid day activity in down town Nantucket. The atmosphere was filled with laughter and excitement while the air held scents of the surrounding saltwater and freshly prepared food.

The duration of my trip was filled with pleasant surprises. I was completely unaware of Nantucket’s rich history being at one point the whaling capital of the world. The cobblestone streets and the uniform construction of the houses with the cedar shingles almost takes you back to that point in time. The beaches were like that out of a pamphlet for an exclusive island getaway thousands of miles away. Sunsets had to be the island’s bread and butter, I’ve traveled to many corners of the world and would rate Nantucket high up on my list of beautifully preserved natural experiences.

The people are friendly, inviting strangers to sit and drink or play a game of sand bag toss or Frisbee. The food although has its pricey spots can be budgeted out to be fairly close to what you would expect to pay in a downtown area of any bigger city on the mainland.”

Whether you are visiting, living on the island, or working on Nantucket, it makes for a great and memorable summer. We are all excited for the 2013 season and can’t wait to see what is in store!

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We are currently hiring for our Nantucket account. If working at the beach for the summer, meeting new people, enjoying the outdoors, and earning some great extra cash interests you, apply at the following link. www.ValetParkofAmerica.com/employment.

VPA Attends Connecticut Job Fairs

VPA would like to extend our thanks to Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut for inviting us to their Job Fair today! The event had a great turnout. Located right in-between our Springfield and Hartford locations, ACC is a great location for us to recruit potential candidates for both areas. Job seekers in the Enfield and Windsor area have the option of working in Springfield, MA or Hartford, CT – or both! The ability to work in multiple locations can add a nice change of pace to a person’s work week. Our HR team looks forward to reviewing the qualifications of the individuals we met at today’s job fair!

Job seekers in Southern Connecticut can catch VPA at Norwalk Community College today as well, until 3:30 PM!

Looking for a job? If you are interested in working in any of our locations, mentioned in this post and beyond, contact jobs@valetparkofamerica.com for an opportunity!

Earth Day: VPA Office Staff Finds a Way to Give Back

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate earth, our environment, and all it does for us. As a way to give back, HR Specialist, Kelly Broderick and Marketing Manager, Ally Montemagni decided to arrange a dress down day to raise money to buy some flowers, pots, and soil. Office employees donated towards this cause in exchange for the privilege of dressing down on the Friday before Earth Day. Together Kelly, Ally, HR Manager, Mark Macero, and Administrative Assistant, Tina Courchesne, planted the flowers outside of our main office.

Kelly and Olivia digging a spot for the pot.

Kelly and Olivia arrange the flower pots along our Main Office walkway.

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Some of the nice bright flowers that we planted today- spring has sprung!

“Kelly and I wanted to give back. Working in a corporate office, going through paper is inevitable. We decided to give back for Earth Day by planting some flowers outside of our office.  It was a beautiful day outside! It is a good day to reflect and remember the importance of caring for our earth.” stated Ally.

HR Manager, Mark Macero, making a spot to put his flower pot

HR Manager, Mark Macero, making a spot to put his flower pot.

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The organizers of our Earth Day project, Kelly and Ally!

We wanted to take the opportunity to bring our office staff together while giving back to the environment, so we also organized a pot luck lunch. Members of our office brought in various dishes, including meatballs, pasta salad, tossed salad, home-made cookies, and fruit smoothies. The food was great! The office employees were able to enjoy a few moments away from their desks, enjoying the nice weather and great food, all while contributing to the environment and improving the appearance of our corporate headquarters. It was a wonderful way to bring in the Spring season!

Tina and Mark adding some color to our front walkway.

Tina and Mark adding some color to our front walkway.

Thank you to all of our office staff who made this celebration possible. The flowers we were able to purchase with your donations make a beautiful addition to our office’s landscape and the city’s environment.

Do you have an Earth Day story to tell? Comment below and let us know!

Happy Earth Day!

 

A Succesful Benefit for Tony D’Amico!

Tony D’Amico has been a VPA employee since 2007. If you are from the Worcester, MA area you may know him as the Honey Farms Lot Attendant. Tony is welcoming and always has a smile on his face as he waves in the cars at the lot. He has a strong work ethic and is always ready to go beyond his daily responsibilities.

The one and only Tony D'Amico with his girlfriend Kelly Goodwin

The one and only Tony D’Amico with his girlfriend Kelly Goodwin.

Recently Tony was diagnosed with Oral Cancer. He continued to work while undergoing treatment so he could keep up with his medical bills. Despite this you never hear him complain. When management found out about the battle Tony was now facing they were eager to help. Joyce Cote, Memorial Hospital Valet Manager, and Pattie Bartoli, Memorial Hospital Administrative Support, were quick to respond. To help ease the financial stress due to his medical debt, the two decided to throw a benefit for Tony. VPA shuttle driver, Curly Blevins, who also manages at Rivalry’s Sports Bar and Pub in Worcester, MA donated Rivarly’s to hold the benefit. Joyce and Pattie cooked up all of the food for the event. Local restaurants, friends, and families donated prizes for the Chinese raffle. Neil Langevin, a VPA employee and DJ of Royal Prestige Music Service, donated his DJ service for the night. (Check out his DJ company here http://royalprestigemusicservice.com/.)

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What a nice photo of Tony, his family, and organizer of the event, Joyce Cote!
Left to Right: Tony’s son, Matt D’Amico, Tony’s sister, Adele Martel, (behind) Adele’s husband, Roland Martel, Tony D’Amico, Tony’s girlfriend, Kelly Goodwin, Tony’s step-mom, Gloria D’Amico, and Memorial Valet Manager, Joyce Cote

Thank you to all who came to the benefit to show your support of Tony!

Thank you to all who came to the benefit to show your support for Tony!

There was also a raffle held before the benefit raffling Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox tickets. Kevin Black, Valet Manager of Hartford Hospital won the first prize, Patriots tickets. Kwabena Osafu, a Worcester Valet Attendant won second place, Celtics tickets. Chris Goodwin of Worcester, MA won Red Sox tickets.

Pattie Bartoli, and Joyce Cote at the benefit. Great job putting it together!

Pattie Bartoli, Tony’s son Matt, and Joyce Cote at the benefit. Great job putting it together!

The raffle and benefit was a success, raising over $2,000 to help take some financial stress away from our amazing lot attendant, Tony D’Amico. Tony and his family were very appreciative for the management team taking the initiative to help him out during this difficult time. The following was left on VPA’s Facebook page from Tony the day after the event, “A very special thank you to all who attended the benefit for me Sunday afternoon.  It was great to see everyone.  Joyce and Patti, what can I say!  Great job I really appreciate all you both did.  To the DJ, a great job and great mix of music enjoyed by all.  Curley Blevins, thank you for the use of your establishment and your donations to the raffle.  Jeff and Paul thank you for working with me on my schedule.  A great week to all!”

Thank you to all of those involved in planning the night and organizing the raffle, a special thanks to Joyce and Pattie. It was a fun night to raise money and celebrate a great employee!

Great job on the food!

Great job on the food!

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Tony’s step-mom, Gloria, with Tony’s son, Matt, at the benefit.