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.

Terry Rood Announced As March Employee of the Month

Terry Rood, Rochester General Hospital Concierge

Rochester General Hospital Concierge, Terry Rood

Congratulations to Terry Rood, Rochester General Hospital Concierge, our March Employee of the Month. Terry has been a VPA employee since December of 2011. Throughout his time at VPA, Terry continuously goes above and beyond his job duties. We get compliments from patients, family members, visitors, and hospital employees on a monthly basis. Dave Maxim, Valet Manager of RGH, said that “Terry is always willing to wheel a patient to their appointment, escort a visitor to a room, and is always opening doors and greeting customers when not performing one of his many duties as concierge.”

In the past month we received two compliments forwarded from our client, one from an appreciative customer and another from a hospital nurse.  The nurse was thanking Terry for wheeling all of her patients outside on a snowy day and was grateful for the help on a cold day. The customer called Terry a gem and said that he “carefully, respectfully helps me get to my destination.” Great job Terry! You are very deserving of this award and are a positive ambassador for VPA and RGH!

Through the Ranks: Dustin Hildebrant

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Dustin recently came to our main office for some hands-on training.

Dustin Hildebrant has been with VPA since 2006.  Since the start of his employment, Dustin has played an instrumental role in many areas of the company. He assisted with the start up of a new account in the Bronx, NY and helped out in Rochester, NY. In 2009 Dustin was promoted and relocated to manage Vernon Downs. During his time at Vernon he continously scored 100% on his shop audits, he never had an at-fault accident at his account and often drove two hours to help out another account. In 2012 Dustin was promoted to also manage Tioga Downs.

We sat down with Dustin to ask him a few questions on his experience with VPA.

What has it been like transitioning from a small account to managing a much larger account?

Since transitioning to Tioga there has been a lot more scheduling, more cars to move and it is more challenging. I like the challenge and am learning more.  Every day it gets smoother. I am from Tioga so I get to be with my family and watch my nieces grow up. I am happy to be back home.

L to R: Security/EMT officer, Chris Hannan, with Dustin Hildebrant

L to R: Security/EMT officer, Chris Hannan, with Dustin Hildebrant

What has been the most memorable moment for you since working at VPA?

Winning employee of the month in September was a great acomplishment for me.

Dustin won this award for helping out during a more stressful situation. While managing, he was the first response to a man going through cardiac arrest.  When the Security/ EMT Officer arrived it was clear he was going to need help giving the man CPR.  Dustin was quick to offer his assistance. The Security Officer was more than grateful for Dustin’s help.  He wrote a letter to our President and Western NY Regional Manager to express his appreciation.  “I wanted you to know that Dustin’s help that day was invaluable and appreciated beyond words.” 

Right: HR Manager Mark Macero presenting Dustin with his Employee of the Month Award

Right: HR Manager Mark Macero presenting Dustin with his Employee of the Month Award

What do you like about working for VPA?

It’s a great company to work for, there is a lot of room for advancement whether you’re the bottom guy or the top guy. I love to be out outdoors. I am a people person, I love to talk to the older customers, they have good stories. Overall there are a lot of incentives in the company. There is a lot VPA does outside of just work. Many of the events we’ve gone to – boxing events, golf tournaments, concerts – are a blast.  The chance to do these things you don’t see from a lot of companies. That is one huge thing that this company does that separates us from other companies.

What have you learned since starting with VPA?

Dedication and hard work will move you through the ranks. I started as a valet attendant and then moved away and now am back managing two accounts. I am working towards advancing in the company. I am young so I have a lot of room to grow.

What advice would you give to new employees who are looking to be promoted within the company?

Keep your head up and smile constantly and you will be recognized.  Hard work stands out and they’re the ones that will be promoted and will have a strong future with VPA. If you work hard you won’t be stuck as a valet attendant or feel trapped.  The more we grow, the more accounts we get, the more managers and captains we can promote.

Yuriy Syromyatnyk, Beyond the Lot

Get a closer look at VPA’s October Employee of the Month

Hartford valet attendant, Yuriy Syromyatnyk, is the type of employee you want on your team. He was born in the Western Part of Ukraine in 1985 where he spent his childhood and the early part of his adult life. During his childhood, Yuriy enjoyed playing soccer, going to school and learning new things. He eventually took a liking to computers, and enjoyed spending time programming computers and various databases.

Yuriy graduated from Oriana High School in the Ukraine in 2002. He continued his education at the National University of Lviv Polytechnic for Metrologists, which; he explained, has nothing to do with the weather. Metrology is the study of measurement science, more specifically, the measurement of electricity comparing it to an American Electrical Engineer. He attended the University until 2008 when he left to come to the United States in 2009.

Yuriy  first resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for approximately two months. During that period of time he made a living by working construction. He eventually moved with his wife Olga to live with her sister in South Windsor, Connecticut. Yuriy applied to and was hired by Valet Park of America at Hartford Hospital in September of 2011. He indicates that he has learned many things working for VPA and he enjoys the people he works with.

He moved to Manchester, Connecticut where he continues to live with his wife. He currently attends Manchester Community College as well as Capitol College in Hartford where he is completing his general studies. He hopes to soon transfer his studies to Southern Connecticut State University where he plans to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Yuriy continues to enjoy the sport of soccer. He likes watching movies, going out to restaurants and sharing a couple of “Amstel Lights” with his friends. His favorite American food is “Buffalo Wings.” Yuriy plans on remaining in the United States of America, but hopes to someday live in a “Big City.”

As an employee, Yuriy is your “go to guy.” In October of 2012 he was respectfully named VPA’s October Employee of the Month. He is the type of employee that doesn’t work hard to receive praise but naturally has the dedication to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Yuriy’s co-worker that nominated him, Johnny Inthaphiou, submitted a very impressive nomination. He wrote, “Coming to this country with his wife supporting each other professionally and through their education, his motivation never falters, his mood is never swayed towards negativity. In my eyes as well as many others, Yuriy is the ultimate professional. Always willing to stay later or change his shift to facilitate site needs… Yuriy doesn’t just make it a pleasure for patients when they meet him during the duration of their stay in the hospital but he also improves the morale of the workers when they get to witness his never faltering work ethic.”

We are very proud to have Yuriy on our team and to award him Employee of the Month. His dedication to the customers and delivering a great service day after day makes him well deserving of this award. Great job, Yuriy!