Pete: Outstanding. Well, guys we got a great guest with us today. It’s Allison Gwisz. And Allison is a Human Resource Business Partner with Suddath Companies right here in Jacksonville. And Allison, welcome to Hard Work-Ah.
Allison: Thank you so much, Pete. It’s great to be here.
Pete: Good. Glad to have you. Now listen, I want to learn, I think, for our listeners … We want to learn more about Allison and then we want to learn more about Suddath and-
Arren: Yeah. What is that?
Pete: I understand you are a rarity. You’re a Jacksonville native. Is that right?
Allison: I am a Jacksonville native, born and raised.
Arren: Like me. And, go ahead and tell them which university you attended.
Allison: Go Gators!
Pete: Oh, here we go. Go Gators. Woo-hoo, woo.
Arren: Chomp, chomp, chomp.
Pete: All right. We got the chomp out of the way.
Pete: Allison, I also know a little bit about you too. And I’ve been in staffing for years and years and years. More years than my co-host has been alive. We’ll just throw that out there.
Arren: Probably true.
Pete: But you did what I did for a lot of years, too.
Allison: I did. I was in the staffing industry for quite some time.
Pete: You’ve been a recruiter. Walk us through what you’ve done.
Allison: Oh, let’s see. I started as admin. I was a recruiter. I worked in sales. I did temp staffing. I did-
Arren: Oh my [crosstalk 00:08:00].
Allison: Replacement. I was-
Arren: You sound like a female Pete.
Allison: All right. Well, Pete, you know I got into the industry and you either run like crazy-
Allison: Or you stay in forever.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah.
Allison: And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved it. I was in it for 13 years and then made a transition over to Suddath.
Pete: You know what we’ve always said? Years in staffing are like dog years. One year is like seven, because it’s hard. I mean, it is a grind, grind, grind. And back in the day, things were different. We didn’t have all that technology that we have now. We’re fortunate to have artificial intelligence and some other things working on behalf of us.
Pete: Before, it was like, you get in the bullpen and you make 125 or 150-
Arren: Oh, my gosh.
Pete: Outbound calls-
Allison: Oh, yeah.
Pete: Every day and this many client visits and this … And it was all these insane metrics every day. So, congratulations for being in 13 years and I also feel bad for you for being in 13 years. I can commiserate.
Pete: Well, tell us a little bit about Suddath.
Allison: Suddath is a family-owned business. Our world headquarters is right here in Jacksonville, Florida.
Arren: Bringing in some money.
Allison: We are almost a hundred years old. In fact, next year, 2019, there’s going to be a big celebration here in Jacksonville.
Arren: Are we invited?
Pete: Wow, that’s exciting.
Arren: Is that the question? Are we invited?
Allison: Possibly. I’ll put you on the list.
Arren: Okay, thanks.
Pete: I want to go.
Pete: And what does Suddath do? When I think Suddath, what are some of the things that we should think about?
Allison: So, Suddath actually operates multiple lines of business. People think, “Oh, Suddath is a moving and storage company,” but we’re actually so much more.
Pete: That’s what I think of, typically. I would think, “Moving, storage”.
Allison: Well, let me tell you what else we do.
Pete: Well, let’s hear it.
Allison: So, moving and storage is our legacy business. We have a logistics business. We have commercial moving and storage.
Allison: We have a workplace design and furnishing group.
Allison: So, we help companies get real creative and use their space more efficiently.
Arren: That sounds awesome.
Allison: Oh, there’s more.
Pete: For us, it’s how many cubicles can you cram into this space in a planogram?
Allison: We have more. We actually have a relocation management group that operates under a couple of brands, Suddath International, Lexicon Relocation, and Sterling Mobility.
Allison: And that group handles all details of moving from the moving and the packing to real estate assistance.
Allison: And if you’re moving internationally, we help with customs and immigration.
Pete: Okay. Definitely, I just got educated, because being in Jacksonville for as long as I have, I guess I’m, kind of, a native now. I’m from Boston, but I’ve been here for 35 years.
Arren: Oh, my gosh.
Pete: Yeah. I know. I’m old. Come on, bring it. I have no problem with that. But I’ve always thought of Suddath … I hear Suddath, “Moving, storage”. So, it’s eye-opening to hear all this.
Pete: I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Suddath over the years in some staffing capacities here and there and I have dealt with some of the most wonderful people at Suddath. One was Beverley Rogers and I know she recently retired, but I’ve been calling on Suddath for … I’m telling you, it has to be 20 years, okay?
Pete: And [Michelle 00:11:04] [Beck 00:11:04] is there too-
Allison: She’s still there.
Pete: Right? And I know I talked to her 20 years ago. And when I hear the same voices and I’m calling on the same people year over year and you have that kind of tenure … You’ve been there for … what? Eight years you said?
Allison: About eight years.
Pete: Yeah. Eight years. When you have that kind of tenure, it’s typically related to the corporate culture and your core values. Maybe talk a little bit about that.
Allison: Sure. I actually love working at Suddath, because of our core values.
Arren: That’s awesome.
Allison: And our core values are integrity, trust, innovation, because we’re always reinventing, commitment and teamwork, because we win together.
Arren: Awesome. Those are awesome.
Pete: When you think of the core values, what do you think of that?
Arren: Can I apply today? Sorry, Pete.
Allison: We have lots of opportunities. You can go to suddath.com\careers and see what you [inaudible 00:12:00].
Pete: Are you hiring? Do you have open positions now?
Allison: We are always hiring and people think of Suddath and they think, “Oh, I have to be in transportation or logistics,” and we certainly do have those jobs, but we have jobs for anything that it takes to run a business. So, we have accounting and customer service and finance. We have a need for drivers here locally and across the country. For those people looking for internships, we hire during the summer months-
Arren: Ooh, that’s good.
Allison: Seasonal employment.
Pete: But [crosstalk 00:12:30]-
Arren: Digital marketing, because my friend Jaclyn Sparks … I love her so much.
Allison: Woo-hoo, Jaclyn!
Pete: Woo, Jaclyn!
Arren: She works there now and when I get to hear about her job outside of the workplace I’m like, “Wow, that’s so awesome. I’m so happy for you, but I secretly want to hurt you, because that sounds so awesome”.
Allison: We do have fun. We have fun at Suddath.
Pete: Well, let’s do this. While we’re talking about those open jobs, again, if people want to see what positions you have open or learn a little bit more … And we’ll give the information again at the conclusion of the interview, but while we’re talking about it right now, some people have their pen and paper handy.
Allison: Sure. Absolutely. Anyone that’s interested in a career opportunity … And I like to say that we don’t have jobs at Suddath. We actually offer career paths and career opportunity.
Allison: But to get your foot in the door, you can visit us at suddath.com\careers or like us on LinkedIn.
Pete: Okay. Okay. Very good.
Pete: Now I want to get back to one of the core values I heard, honesty, integrity, teamwork, I love that. But innovation is one that … Let’s dig in a little bit. How is Suddath innovative?
Allison: When you think of our industry, technology and innovation isn’t something that comes to your mind initially.
Pete: Right. You think you’re moving stuff.
Allison: Trucks, moving stuff, stuff moving back and forth. But Suddath is actually setting the technology curve for our industry. Innovation is one of our core values, as you mentioned, and we have an example of a very innovation tracker, is one of our systems that we … It’s proprietary software that we have developed for our commercial business, which actually allows the customer to see their product or their inventory move from 0% to 100% completion-
Allison: In real time.
Arren: That’s amazing.
Pete: Wow, that’s fantastic. Yeah. That’s true. Every time we have guests, each week we always ask, how is technology impacting your industry? I almost wasn’t going to ask you that, because of your industry.
Allison: Because of the industry.
Pete: Right, right. But I think if I’m having … Let’s say my whole office relocated from one city to another. I need to know … My business … I need to know-
Pete: And if I have this tracker, just to see, “Okay, we’re percentage complete this, we’re here-”
Arren: The progress, yeah.
Pete: That’s what I need to know to make business decisions.
Allison: So, we have a customer out on the west coast, a very high-tech customer that we tested this on. It has been very successful. They are a business that may work over night, over the weekends. They’re very creative and techie. So, this gives them the opportunity, if it’s Saturday morning, I need to know if my office has moved from Building A to Building C. They can log into the dashboard and see if their move is complete.
Allison: And if they want to go to work Saturday at 4:00 AM, they can see if their office is set up and ready for them to go.
Pete: Wow. Wow.
Arren: It’s like you never stop working.
Pete: Right. Right.
Arren: It’s like you can just [crosstalk 00:15:38]-
Allison: Not that I encourage that, but if you have the desire to, you can know if it’s ready to go or not.
Pete: Oh, that’s fantastic. And you mentioned teamwork and I remember going out to Suddath, probably about a year ago. Somewhere around a year ago and I met with your team. Michelle was telling me about … I think it was around Halloween, so it was …
Allison: About this time.
Pete: Yeah. And she was telling me about how she dressed up and I think she was a princess, but you could see the excitement. And she said, “Oh, but we go above and beyond”.
Pete: When you’re talking about teamwork and creating an environment where people feel like they can have fun in the workplace-
Arren: Part of the family.
Pete: And express themselves, that’s contributing to your tenure. So, you guys are drinking your own Kool-Aid right there.
Allison: Absolutely. Absolutely. We work hard and we like to hire people that have a solid work ethic and want to be committed and are team players, but we recognize that you’re at work more than you’re at home, so-
Arren: It’s so true.
Allison: We like to have a good time together and we’re in the planning stages of our Fall Festival coming up. And so, we’ll be dressing up. And just earlier this week we had an ice cream truck come in and-
Arren: Oh, so cool.
Allison: Gave everyone options of different ice cream to celebrate our recent win. We were voted the Bold City Best-
Pete: Woo-hoo! I saw that. Yeah. I did see that, yeah.
Allison: We were voted the Bold City Best in the best moving company, the best storage facility and we were top three as best places to work-
Arren: Oh, my gosh.
Allison: Up next to Publix and Mayo Clinic. So, we were-
Pete: And this all came in … This is 2018 stuff. We’re not talking about a war we won 10 years ago.
Allison: Oh, no.
Pete: I just saw that, yeah.
Allison: Oh, no. This is recent. So, we like to celebrate our employees, so we celebrated the win with ice cream at the office.
Arren: That’s awesome.
Pete: Oh, that’s fantastic.
Arren: Those awards in itself disprove that misconception that playing in the workplace is unproductive and so … yeah. That’s just awesome. That’s really cool.
Pete: That’s good. And I like the ice cream truck thing.
Arren: Oh, man I wish … We need one of those.
Pete: That’s a neat idea. Little things to show appreciation.
Pete: Today my blog was all about … And I challenge people that, by the end of this week, this upcoming up week that we’re having, is make sure that you show somebody at work sincere appreciation, whether it’s a coworker, a boss, it just … anybody. And I gave specific examples on how to show appreciation.
Pete: And the ice cream truck one is like saying, “Hey, guys-”
Arren: The cherry on top.
Pete: “We appreciate you”.
Allison: I think that’s awesome. Actually, at Suddath, we have an employee appreciation week that we do every year.
Arren: That’s awesome.
Allison: So, we have competitions and games and food and fun, just celebrating all of our businesses, all of our employees. We come together and just have a good time.
Allison: We also celebrate our tenure at that time. You had mentioned tenure. We have a nice blend. We have folks that have been with our company a couple of years, because of our rapid growth, but we still celebrate 30 years and 40 years.
Pete: That’s amazing.
Allison: So, it’s a nice mix.
Arren: That’s crazy.
Pete: That’s amazing.
Arren: So, speaking about tenure, as a menil …
Pete: A menummanuma?
Arren: That word is so hard to say, why did they put it on us?
Arren: Millennial. Why can’t I be a Gen X? But, as a millennial, someone that’s young and looking into building their career, two things, as a person who is in tenure, how do you guide those millennials that get funneled into your company and what are the different paths that they can take along the way? I mean, do I come in and I start from the very, very bottom and then I can only be of a certain title? What are those paths?
Allison: Sure. So, Suddath has several different opportunities and tenure. Again, we have folks that are just starting their career and then we have folks who have been in the business for quite some time.
Allison: I would encourage folks, who are looking to start their career, to be committed. At Suddath, we have all different kinds of avenues you can go. If you want to start in customer service and then transfer over to sales, you can do that.
Allison: If you want to come in, in sales and then move your way up to a management or a director level, you can do that. If you start in our workplace solutions group and you decide that you want to move over into logistics and learn something new, you can do that. So, there is endless opportunity at our organization.
Allison: I have a couple of girls in my group, [Amy 00:20:05] and [Hannah 00:20:06], who-
Pete: Amy and Hannah! Shout out.
Arren: They [crosstalk 00:20:09].
Allison: They are in my workplace group and one of them started as a summer intern. Remember that seasonal help I mentioned to you?
Allison: And then the other one started right out of college. And they were in coordinator roles, customer service and then moved their way up. And now they both are regional customer service supervisors-
Allison: Managing folks across the country.
Arren: That’s crazy. See-
Allison: So, there’s definitely opportunity.
Arren: Yeah. When I came out of college, I didn’t look at companies and say, “Okay, I know exactly what I want to do”. And so, it’s good to have somebody who is older in the business to guide you and say, “Well, it sounds like your skills [crosstalk 00:20:44]-”
Allison: Are you telling me I’m older?
Arren: Oh, no. I did not want to-
Pete: I heard it. I hear it every week.
Arren: More experienced people to tell you-
Allison: We call that “seasoned”.
Arren: Oh, seasoned. Well seasoned with salt and pepper. To direct you-
Pete: This is what I deal with. I deal with this every week.
Allison: It’s all good. It’s all good, Pete.
Pete: Same thing, Allison. I get it.
Arren: You need more coffee.
Pete: So, what’s nice is, you’re recognizing and rewarding performance. You’re understanding the talents and the value add that your employees have and they can career path within the organization-
Arren: Which is so nice.
Pete: And a lot of opportunities. And I’ve heard the words, “culture is support”. Walk me through what that means.
Allison: Suddath has a tremendous culture, which is … I mentioned our values, but the culture is what keeps me there as well. We have a culture of support for each other, for our employees, for our customers. As I mentioned earlier, we’re all in this together, so it’s very comforting to have that and feel secure.
Allison: The benefits at Suddath are pretty cool. We have a well-being program-
Arren: Tell us.
Allison: That lends to the culture of wellness. We have a scholarship program, which is very near and dear to my heart, which is super-cool and I’ll just let you know quickly. We offer three scholarships to dependents of our employees-
Allison: Every year.
Arren: That’s so cool.
Pete: Oh, wow.
Allison: And it’s tuition, books, and fees to a four-year university.
Arren: Oh, my. Goosebumps, yeah.
Pete: Holy cow.
Arren: That goes a long way, for sure.
Pete: I say each week, right? And for those of you that listen to the show often, you hear me say each week it’s harder to attract and find people. It’s harder to find people right now. Everybody’s working. Unemployment at 3.7% nationally. Everybody’s working. So, employers … It’s not like you just put out an ad and the fish jumps in your boat.
Allison: Oh, no. Gone are the days.
Pete: Right. Those days are gone. I remember when they were out there, but it’s not like that now. Now it’s, employers have to think, “What can I do differently? What are my key differentiators that attract people to my organization?” And a scholarship for families, with all the associated expenses is part of it, too. The books and all that.
Allison: Oh, yeah.
Pete: I mean, that is fantastic.
Arren: Sure is.
Pete: That gets people’s attention quickly.
Allison: Sure hope so.
Pete: So, we heard some great things about Suddath. This is a company that’s innovative. This is a company that is evaluating technology and implementing it across all their business. I mean, it is fantastic. They’re committed to teamwork. They’re rewarding performance. Career pathing.
Pete: And I tell all you people … And you know who my listeners are, Allison? They’re the workforce of today. It’s not the trust fund babies sitting on piles of hundred dollar bills, just taking them out and throwing them up in the air and letting the wind blow it away.
Arren: What a nice life.
Pete: We work. We work. And we look for opportunities. Some of them are in that job-hunt mode and they’re considering. And I want to direct everybody’s attention to Suddath. What are some of the ways again that people can reach Suddath and see the open jobs or they can apply? How can they do that?
Allison: Sure. First of all, they should visit our website, because it’s pretty fabulous and it will tell you all about our organization, if you want to learn more. So, you go to http://www.suddath.com. Go to the “Careers” page and we will list all of our current job openings. Or you can follow us on LinkedIn.
Pete: Good. And Arren, you’ll upload all this to Pete “The Job Guy” too, so …
Arren: Yes. It’ll be on the podcast on Monday for you people who are still sleeping.
Pete: Well, that music right there tells us it’s time to take the bottom of the hour break right now.
Pete: Allison, if you could hang tight with us for a little bit, we have a few more questions to ask and spend a little bit more time with us in the second half of the hour.
Pete: You are listening to 104.5 WOKV.
Pete: Welcome back all you hard workers, joining us on a Sunday morning. We’re here to make your life a little bit better, to help you be more effective, productive, and to just share with you some job opportunities. And we’re still hearing about a great company, Suddath, here in town. And we’re fortunate to have Allison Gwisz with us.
Pete: Now, Allison, here’s where I like to throw the curve ball on all my guests.
Pete: Yes, yes. Here’s the curve ball. Now, when you were 10 and someone said to you, “Hey, what do you want to be when you grow up?” You didn’t say, “You know what? I want to be a Human Resource Business Executive over at Suddath”. You maybe wanted to be an astronaut or a lawyer or something different than this. And our careers are like a journey, not a destination and … Okay, so here you are now.
Pete: What I want to say to you … Here’s the question I want to ask you is, what would you turn around … Here you are, Future Allison and you lean back and say to Past Allison, “Allison, here’s some advice I want to give you”. What does that look like?
Allison: Let’s see. I think I turned out okay, Pete, but if I was going to give advice to someone who is just starting out on their career, again, I would say, “Be committed. Find something that you’re passionate about or that you at least really enjoy doing, because you’re going to spend a lot of time at work”. And most of these folks that are just starting are probably going to work for another 40, 45 years. So, get comfy and cozy.
Pete: That’s not me, by the way. I don’t have 40 or 50 more years on this planet.
Allison: Well, if we back track a little bit. And I would also say, “When you’re at work, work smart and work hard so that you can go home to your family and do home”.
Arren: Yes. I like that.
Pete: Well said.
Allison: Or yourself. Do your time and your family when you’re home. So, really make a strong effort to get your work done while you’re at work-
Arren: I like it.
Allison: And then enjoy your family when you’re home.
Pete: Right. And as one of our guests, Lloyd Corricelli said … I remember he said, “Nobody on their death bed sits back and reflects and says, ‘I wish I spent more time at work'”.
Arren: Not me.
Pete: They don’t. It’s that personal time. Having that work-life balance. When you’re at work, you work your hardest. Buzzer to buzzer, you do your absolute best, but you have to disassociate and disconnect and give that equal effort to your family and to your personal time, right?
Pete: Allison, you’ve been a terrific guest and we appreciate you spending your Sunday morning with us.
Arren: Yay! Thank you.
Allison: Oh, thanks.
In this Episode:
Allison Gwisz is a Human Resources Business Partner at The Suddath Companies and supports our Workplace Solutions business line.
She is a Jacksonville native and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Sociology. Prior to her time at Suddath, Allison worked in the staffing and permanent placement industry for 13 years as a recruiter, in sales, as an on-site manager and a branch manager. She has been with Suddath for almost 8 years, three of those in her current role as a human resources business partner.
She acts as a liaison to the President of Suddath Workplace Solutions business line for strategy related to talent development, recruiting and retention and all things HR. She is also a front-line human resources representative to employees for training, career growth, compensation, benefits, and well-being, etc.