Third Annual Employee Conference: Celebrating our Past, Looking Forward to our Future
Without a trusted support team standing behind it, even the most technologically-advanced security system is useless. At Advantech, we know our success is not just about innovative products, but having a committed team working with our customers—from the planning stages, to implementation and installation, to ongoing tech support, to everyday interaction. But we know there’s always room for improvement—which is why every so often, it’s important that we take some time out and take stock of where we’ve been, where we are now (and how we got here), and where we’re going next. At our third annual Advantech employee conference recently, we got to do just that.
The 2015 employee conference gave us a chance to evaluate our performance over the past 12 months. We got to review how we performed as a team against the goals we set for ourselves last year; we talked about what worked well, and we also discussed areas of improvement we want to focus on in the coming months. And by gathering the whole Advantech crew together—in one room, at one time—we had a chance to slow down and get to know each other better, so we can work more effectively as a team in the year ahead.
Our guest speaker Bill Hickox from the Delaware Department of Education, shared some pertinent thoughts on the magic that happens when successful teamwork is combined with effective customer service. His observations spring from a unique perspective: Mr. Hickox has held numerous roles over the years in several different organizations, and he’s been an Advantech customer in each of those roles. “Bill Hickox reminded us that, as a team, everyone is a customer service representative,” said lead foreman Brian Smith. “His presentation was something we all needed to hear, and it was definitely one of the highlights of the day.”
Advantech director of sales and conference organizer Lee Thompson said that feedback from participants of the meeting were overwhelmingly positive, and shared his assessment of the takeaways from the day: “We strive to be the best at what we do, because we know customer perception is key—and perception always trumps reality,” he said. “The work we do directly impacts our community. And because at Advantech we are also members of this community, we care about the work we do. We’re prideful of the work we do—we work hard, we’re intentional, and it’s nice to be able to take some time out at an event like this one and celebrate our successes.”
In addition to acknowledging the contributions of employees who celebrated five-year anniversaries throughout the year, we celebrated some additional personal and professional accomplishments of our colleagues, like the attainment of several NICET certifications, the completion of a CompTIA, one MBA, and even the election of one of our team members as president of the local Rotary club.
Two employees in particular were recognized for their exemplary service in 2015 with our Above & Beyond award. Tracie Daddio has been with Advantech for almost ten years. About her award, she said “In operations, it seems like everything happens at once, and I have to wear multiple hats. It’s nice to be recognized for keeping things flowing.” She also commented on the conference in general: “We’re all so busy, it’s nice to take the time to get together in one room, look back at our past, and see how we can work together going forward. The teambuilding exercise was a fun way to help us work together and share ideas, and find out what happens when we combine our individual strengths.”
Ryan Kelly, the recipient of the second Above & Beyond award, has been with the company for nine years. He said receiving the award was a surprise and an extremely humbling experience. “Everyone here goes Above & Beyond on customer service,” he said, “so this award is for everyone; it’s not just for me.” He said the remarks of the guest speaker really hit home. “The things he had to say were great, but his viewpoint was even more powerful considering he’s a customer and that he considers Advantech as his partner of choice. He made the point that it’s important to make customers feel like they’re people and not just numbers, and that’s something all of us try to do every day. Because our customers are clients for life, we’re committed to being there when they need us. And that commitment starts—and ends—with each one of us individually.”
Two very special awards were presented by Advantech long-timer Doug Peterson (or “Employee 007” as he calls himself). We honored our president Eric Schaeffer with an award to commemorate his 25th anniversary at the helm of Advantech, and Distributor of the Year was awarded to local business owner Bruce Avery, for his continuous support of Advantech and his own commitment to exemplary customer service.
One of the strengths of Advantech is the length of service of many of our team members, but it’s not just the long-term employees who benefit from this event—even our newest colleagues had an opportunity to introduce themselves and get involved. Robyn Popper has been working as a scheduler in our service department for only 90 days, and said that she found the review of our company goals and statistics beneficial. “It’s great to get a picture of all the work we did last year compared to previous years, and it’s really helpful to see exactly how I fit into the organization.” She said the event was a breath of fresh air: “It was a great way to get to know everyone, see what we’re working toward, and have management share their expectations with us. Plus, it was just a nice thing to do. It sends employee morale through the roof!”
All of us at Advantech are proud to be celebrating our 25th year. We strive to provide our clients with top-of-the-line security systems, detailed support, professional service and effective solutions. Our president Eric Schaeffer says he feels fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of people who share his values and vision of providing our clients with the best customer service possible. “Now that the year is coming to an end, we’ve had a chance to get together to have some fun, really get to know each other, and enjoy the fruits of our labors,” he said. “We’ve examined what worked well for us, and we’ve gotten some excellent feedback on what we need to work on in the future. This conference is an invaluable way to get firsthand viewpoints of the people who are actually out there doing the work. We discussed our past growth, celebrated our successes, and established some aggressive goals for the next year. This anniversary was an impressive milestone, and now we’re looking forward to our next 25 years.”