By Bob Jacquart, CEO
As I look back on my life’s journey, little did I know that the skills that I learned in my first part-time job would come full circle. Back in the 7th grade, I put together bicycles, strollers and wagons at my Uncle King’s five-and-dime store. My uncle encouraged me to meet and interact with the customers, even at that young age. I quickly learned that I loved meeting new people – learning from them, hearing their stories, and helping them with whatever they needed.
As an adult, in the early days of my work at Jacquart Fabric Products, I made custom boat covers and learned to upholster furniture – two more areas in which I worked directly with the end customer. I even began to pass my love of customer interaction on to my two daughters – they often came to work with me on Saturday mornings, where they learned to introduce themselves by looking people straight in the eye and shaking their hand.
Eventually, as JFP grew, I found myself working with the end customer less and less. I had other things to work on – building budgets and strategic plans, developing employees and creating an infrastructure that would support the company we were building.
As these things have been set in place and our management team has expanded, however, I find myself with a little more time on my hands. Time that I have turned back to the customer – but a new type of customer, the Stormy Kromer fan who wants to see for themselves where the caps are made and visit our Factory Store.
The factory operates Monday through Friday, and therefore our tours are offered during the week. Our Factory Store has also followed that schedule. Last fall I decided to open our Factory Store on Saturdays, mainly to accommodate tourists who are visiting our area on the weekend. It proved to be a huge success.
For the most part, I am the only one working on Saturdays, and we’re open from about 9-12. The folks who come in on Saturdays tend to be very passionate about our brand and usually have great stories to share. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday morning than talking about Stormy Kromer with people as excited about the brand as I am!
As soon as the weather warms up, however, Saturdays will be cycling days for me and we’ll have someone else staffing the store. Don’t worry though, the cycling season is pretty short and come fall, I plan to be back.
Come to think of it…this may be a glimpse of my retirement job. Maybe a new store with a coffee shop, Stormy Kromer products and free stories to all who want to hear them. Sounds pretty good to me.