Category: Employee Experience

Aug

21

 

There’s a common perception that career paths move in straight, pre-planned lines; but that’s rarely true. Careers have twists and turns, new opportunities, and unexpected challenges that change our trajectory.

We sat down with a few #PeopleofPremium to hear how they’ve maneuvered the curves to grow their own careers at Premium.

 

 

What led you to your career at Premium?

 

Chris: My background is in consumer electronics. I worked in big box retail stores like Circuit City and Best Buy in the home theatre department. After that, I was a field market manager in Austin, TX for a major appliance company.

Sherry: I come from a totally different background. I spent 23 years in banking. I began working at the Federal Reserve Bank in the securities vault in Birmingham, AL; worked in many other roles and departments for 13 years then went to a commercial bank, working my way up to an AVP position in Correspondent Banking.  When I left banking, I started my own business advocating for people with disabilities for 7 years.

I got to a point where I needed a part-time job to stay home and help my grandfather. I talked to a friend who knew someone that was working as a Premium Zone Leader and through that connection, was lucky to start at Premium a week later. When I first walked into Walmart as a Merchandiser in 2012, I had no retail experience whatsoever.

 

What roles have you had in your time at Premium?

 

Cristina: I began my career with Premium in 2013 after completing grad school. I was a Retail Market Manager and worked on some international projects in Mexico and Canada. Now, I’m in a corporate training role.

Chris: I started at Premium in 2017 as an Associate Regional Manager on a dedicated team for a major technology brand. After a year, my program was reduced so I transitioned into Recruiting. A Program Manager position on the Operations team became available and was a perfect fit. I was able to help launch a group of field market leads and trainers and assist at a major national retail chain.

In 2019, I accepted a role as a Regional Manager on one of Premium’s newest dedicated teams. The Pet team has 100+ field reps representing Royal Canin and Eukanuba brands in PetSmart, Petco and other regional retailers. Since then, I have been promoted to Senior Regional Manager. It has been incredible getting to interact with cats and dogs while promoting a brand that really supports pet health and nutrition.

Sherry: I started in 2012 as a Retail Merchandiser in Birmingham and became a Zone Specialist. After a couple of years, I became a Zone Leader. Then in 2017, I accepted a position to be a Field Coordinator for Florida and Georgia. Three months later I took an interim position as a Retail Market Manager for the Atlanta market. At the end of 2017, Premium blessed me with the company’s first-ever Field Excellence Award.

In 2017, Premium was announced as one of Walmart’s 5 Preferred Service Providers and we began developing our Walmart-Dedicated PSP team.  I wanted to be a part of a brand-new program, something I’d never done before, so I interviewed for the Territory Manager job in Alabama. In May 2020, I moved up to the Regional Manager position for the Southeast and am still one of four Regional Managers on our recently merged the Walmart PSP team which is one of Premium’s largest programs.

 

 

What experiences at Premium have prepared you for where you are today? 

 

Chris: Launching an entire program from the ground up was a bit stressful and intimidating. I had seen others do it, but I had to rely on the guidance of those managing above me. There was pressure to make sure that the team I was leading offered the right support to the field. We came through it unscathed, and now I think about those challenges as a significant point in my career. Challenges help us improve – they aren’t something to shy away from.

Cristina: Once you’ve survived the launch of a new program at Premium, you can do anything in the world, right? There’s so much involved in order to bring it to life including working with various corporate teams at Premium – HR, Recruiting/Onboarding, Training, Field Management, Client Service, Operations Support Center. We work hard to make sure we have the right team in the field, and that they’re prepared to take on the project. It’s incredible what can be accomplished at every turn and is rewarding to know you helped create that growth.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone just getting started at Premium?

 

Sherry: Speak up and share your thoughts and ideas. If the instructions are wrong, let us know.  If something could be done differently to make a job easier, share your thoughts.  Reps help keep us headed in the right direction in the field of operations. One of the things I say to my team is “If you’re going to come to me with a problem, please come with possible solutions. Help the team by thinking outside the box.”

Cristina: Similarly, when there is an obstacle, don’t just complain about it. Instead, recommend a thought-out solution. Every idea won’t be gold. But you may point out a flaw that other people haven’t solved. Your idea may spark another, even more significant, idea.

 

 

Even on our Facebook groups, you’ll see reps sharing best practices while they’re at the store. They’re going above and beyond to help the team. Going that extra mile is crucial to success wherever you end up.

Chris: Make sure to prepare in advance. Always follow up with additional questions to ensure you can deliver what the client is trying to achieve. Learn from your mistakes and challenge yourself to be better.

Cristina: We’ve all had to learn lessons the hard way. No matter what, be sure to start building relationships with those around you right away.

 

What’s the best way to build relationships with stores?

 

Sherry: We have to build strong relationships to partner with our stores. Premium team members go into the store as a guest and as a partner. We have to balance our clients’ needs with what the store must accomplish. It’s okay to ask stores, “How can I help you?” or “What are you looking to accomplish?” Once you understand how you can help the store be successful and show the store you’re ready to work with them, it opens up the dialogue to accomplish goals for our clients and the store; making for a strong Premium presence in Walmart!

Chris: Adding on to that, once you’ve introduced yourself, make the dialogue a bit more personal. Many times, I’ve seen conversations start by showing off photos of kids and dogs. Eventually, stores won’t see you as a vendor coming in to perform a service, but as a partner and a resource.

 

What should an employee do if they’re ready to advance their career with Premium?

 

Chris: Listening plays a big part. Whether you’re a part of a team or leading a team, you need to listen and watch. You can learn from everybody, and that’s how I realized the difference between a manager and a leader. Field reps shouldn’t be afraid to ask their manager what they can improve on.

 

 

I would also encourage anybody to reach out to co-workers. Share what you know and invest in the people you work with. What would you like to see improve? What questions do you have? It’s never bad to hear too many ideas.

Sherry: We always need to be open to learning. You can see when someone is ready to move up. Every time they achieve a new goal, they’re ready to take on more. They show it in the way they carry themselves, the way they interact with others, and the solutions they bring to the table.

Cristina: Say something to your management and express it at any opportunity you get. Don’t be shy! Be open to constructive criticism to help you grow. Show off your skills that you feel would benefit the role you are interested in. That may include going above and beyond a job role, but it is worth it! Ask your manager about our management development opportunities as well. Premium has a lot of skills-based training to offer you may not know about.

 

Why do you like being a part of the Premium family?

 

Cristina: We aren’t just dedicated to the client. We’re dedicated to our teams and to helping each other. Our clients set a high bar, but we do a great job of balancing our resources to set realistic expectations, preparing the team to hit goals, and communicating through the process.

It’s easy to be dedicated to something that you love. I love the people that I work with. I love the support system that we have. Whatever it is you’re doing, I believe you should do it with passion and dedication. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. When you love your job, you’re going to be really good at your job.

Chris: No other company has helped me grow so many different skills or has shown they actually care about your growth. I always try to build that same loyalty and exhibit that care with those that I manage. We know it can be stressful. But like everything else in life, getting past those things gives us the skills to keep improving.

Sherry: I do a lot of reflecting on how far I’ve come at Premium. Ron Travers (Premium’s founder) had a genuine desire to see people succeed and wanted them to have the opportunity to move up within the company. This man’s vision has really changed my life to have the opportunities I’ve had here. His spirit of leadership still lives on within us. The culture and everything he believed in is still here and the reason Premium is still successful today.

Thank you, Cristina, Chris and Sherry for sharing your Premium stories and bringing Premium’s culture to life!

Jul

30

 

It’s a three-peat! We are proud to announce Premium has been recognized as a Top Workplace for the third year in a row by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Top Workplaces award is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture including alignment, execution, and connection.

Our three-time Top Workplaces win validates the emphasis Premium places on the employee experience.

 

Premium Culture.

Premium established our Culture Team in December 2016 with the goal of increasing employee engagement, encouraging transparency throughout the workplace and giving back to the community.

In 2019, we doubled the team’s size to assist in growing connections between team members across all levels, functions, and locations.

 

Premium’s 2020 Culture Team.

 

The Culture Team leverages employee feedback as we plan future activities. In early 2020, the Culture Team deployed Premium’s first-ever engagement survey to the entire company. Our goal was to identify global wins, opportunities and solicit ideas to make work better for our teams.

We heard from over 2,000 employees – 84% were those who work in retail stores and 10% came from field managers and corporate employees. Based on the results, we’ve renewed our focus on employee learning and development, as well as enhancing the new hire onboarding experience as Premium continues to grow.

 

Several common threads rose to the top when we asked Premium employees what they liked about working for Premium.

 

Team member recognition.

In August 2020, we rolled out our field recognition program called Premium Proud. This brand-new program identifies and rewards top-performing field team members. Premium Proud is a way for all of Premium to witness our field team’s wins, even when they’re tackling projects solo. Created and developed by Premium’s Culture Team, we encourage nominations year-round and identify $250 winners quarterly.

 

 

 

 

New benefits.

Also new in 2020, Premium has partnered with Hooray Health to provide our part-time team members with excellent employee benefits with economical options for them and their families. Our new health benefit options eliminate high costs and hidden fees associated with care.

 

 

 

 

Accessible leadership.

Each quarter, we host livestream interviews with company leaders called Premium Now. During these livestreams, we ask Premium team leads questions about key industry trends, best practices, a day in the life, and more.

Premium CEOs Brian and Kevin Travers have been featured guests on Premium Now multiple times. They’ve committed to transparency, and have covered the state of the business, wins and challenges in our virtual town halls.

CEOs Brian and Kevin Travers joined Director of Marketing Sarah Pitkin Styers to discuss the new age of retail, execution after COVID, state of the company and more at our Mid-Year Town Hall.

 

Research shows that organizations with the Top Workplace designation are known to attract better talent, experience lower turnover, and are more equipped to deliver profitable results.

Cheers to three years as a Top Workplace – thanks to all of our employees for bringing Premium’s culture to life every day!

We’d love for you to join the Premium family. Apply today! #WeArePremium

Jul

7

Premium always embraced an entrepreneurial spirit, stemming from its founder Ron Travers. For nearly 30 years, Ron climbed Nabisco’s corporate ladder to become a Regional VP of Sales. When Nabisco was acquired in the early 1980s, Ron found himself at a crossroads. He decided to build his own company to market great brands, coordinate in-store services with food brokers and retailers, and deliver results by deploying experienced people. 

In April 1985, Premium Retail Services was born. Thirty-five years later, Premium is bigger and better than ever under the leadership of Ron’s sons – CEOs Brian and Kevin Travers. In honor of their father’s legacy, Premium celebrates Founder’s Day each year on Ron’s birthday (June 29). This year, we expanded our celebration by introducing Premium’s first-ever Founder’s Week.

Each day we focused on one of Premium’s five core beliefs.

 

Family – Day 1

To kick off Founder’s Week 2020, Brian and Kevin Travers remembered their father on his birthday.

Ron holds a special place in our hearts, especially for a few long-term Premium employees who shared personal memories of him:

Karen Holland – Sr. Director, Client Services

While my husband was deployed in Afghanistan, Ron checked in with me regularly to see how my kids and I were doing. It meant the world to know someone in his position took the time to care about his employees. He paid the postage for all employees who wanted to send care packages to my husband’s unit – who loved all of the goodies sent by team Premium!

Sue Kohlberg – Director, Benefits

I have so many fond memories of Ron, but one of my favorites is when Ron was in my office, and he says in a puzzled voice, “Why do you have that picture in your office?” I respond to him, “What picture?” and Ron then points to a picture of my daughter Kayla. I respond to him, “That’s Kayla.” He replied, “I know that is Kayla, but why do you have her picture in your office?” At this point, I thought Ron was losing it a little. I then say, “Umm…Kayla is my daughter.” He then starts to laugh and says, “Oh my goodness, I thought that was my granddaughter Kayla. She looks just like our Kayla when she was young!”

Jill Pavlik – Operations Support Specialist

After my dad passed away, I was told that Ron would stop by my desk to check up on me even though I wasn’t back at work yet. That warmed my heart. Ron was a great leader and genuine. He was funny as well, always made me smile!!

 

Partnership – Day 2

Our employees’ and clients’ success is built on strong relationships – working together to deliver the best. In honor of partnership, Premium team members discovered their creative personality type with this short, fun quiz. Understanding ourselves helps maximize our potential, creating better partnerships.

Team members shared their results with co-workers to find their collaborative matches! Find out for yourself – are you the Thinker, Adventurer, or Innovator?

 

Creativity – Day 3

We are committed to breaking the mold as we solve retail challenges and deliver results for our clients. To inspire creativity from our team (and enjoy a mid-week brain break), we developed a coloring page featuring our founder, Ron Travers. Here are some of our favorites!

 

Integrity – Day 4

In early 2020, we deployed a company-wide survey on culture and employee engagement. The results revealed that our core belief of integrity resonates most with Premium team members. We believe in doing what’s right, even when no one’s watching. This aspect of our culture stems directly from our founder, Ron.

To celebrate integrity, our Premium family donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the US and Canada. Brian and Kevin were gracious enough to give a large sum to help Premium raise $5,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs!

This gift will help Premium’s and Boys & Girls Clubs’ efforts to support underserved minority areas across the US and Canada.

Read more about Premium’s long-term partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs and the opening of St. Louis’ first Best Buy Teen Tech Center.

 

Eclipsing Expectations – Day 5

When your name is Premium, people expect a higher level of service. Meeting goals is simply a stepping stone to delivering beyond what’s expected. We asked team members and clients to nominate one Premium employee whose performance goes above and beyond. We received over 100 submissions!

We randomly selected five employees as recipients of our first Eclipsing Expectations Awards! Each winner received a $100 USD/CAD gift certificate to our Premium Store.

Congratulations to all!

Premium team members, thank you for your participation and demonstration of our beliefs throughout the year. A huge thanks to Brian and Kevin Travers and the Culture Team for making our first-ever Founder’s Week a success. We’re already brainstorming for next year!

Check out all of our Founder’s Week fun over on our social channels using #PremiumFoundersWeek.

Are you interested in becoming a part of the Premium family? Join our team at wearepremium.com.