There are a lot of people who work at Excel Homes, and while not all of them carry a hammer or have a near-scientific knowledge of the physical properties of drywall, they all help “build” – in one way or another – the homes we create on a daily basis. This recurring blog entry will introduce you to some of those people and the tools they use to do their important jobs.
Today’s entry is about Kerri Kondisko. Kerri is a sales rep, but she recently had the opportunity to work with home buyers and builders to help rebuild some of the homes damaged in the recent tornados that struck western and central Massachusetts.
NAME: Kerri Kondisko
POSITION: Account Executive for Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire
DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL DAY AT EXCEL HOMES:
The best (and sometimes the worst) thing about working as a sales representative is that there is no typical day. If I am working from my home office, I usually start my day quite early and try to get paperwork out of the way before the phone starts ringing. After that, I start returning calls and emails that have accumulated during the evening (since a lot of my builder partners spend their days at the jobsite, they spend the wee hours of the day catching up on their paperwork). I may receive requests to research and request pricing for new building products for a builder or retailer, help with a floor plan design, and cost estimates. Prospective buyers may also inquire about floor plans, information on modular construction, or contact information for a local builder.
If I am on the road, I will travel to Massachusetts, Vermont or New Hampshire to meet with several different builders a day. During those meetings, I may help them “fine-tune” a plan or discuss what’s new with Excel. If it’s a builder who’s a prospect, I’ll show them why they should be doing business with Excel Homes. I have also met with customers and their builder to assist in the color selection/options process – which can sometimes be very daunting to a new home buyer. Sometimes I’ll get to attend a home set. It’s a great experience to go to a site where there is only a foundation, and by the end of the day, there’s a new home. It’s really cool.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Though I’m fond of working on the design of floor plans and elevations, by far the biggest reason I’ve been with Excel for so long is the people I work with. Excel has some great people on staff who really care about providing the best home possible to the end user – from the office staff who take care of the builders’ needs to the folks in order processing, quality control, purchasing and engineering, who look at the home with a fresh set of eyes and make suggestions that really help to improve the homes we build.
I have told this story many times, but I will never forget the day I got a call from a guy who was installing the outlets in a bathroom of a home I had online. He said that the position of one of the outlets would really be inconvenient for the homeowner, and that if it were his home, he would move it to a different location, and even suggested where it should ideally go. To me, it was great that a guy working on the line was thinking of that home as if it were his own. That makes all the difference in the world to the product we are building.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL SOMEONE WOULD NEED TO SUCCEED IN YOUR POSITION?
You have to be a good communicator. We have a diverse group in the sales department, and they all come to the table with a different set of skills; you learn to make your skills work to your builder’s advantage. But, if you don’t have good communication skills, you’re sunk. You have to be able to listen to the builder in the various forms that they use to communicate – phone, text, email – compile the information they are passing along, translate it into terms the company can work with, pass it along to the appropriate staffers, and then follow up. I work on this every day. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I drop the ball. But most importantly, I keep trying!
YOU’VE RECENTLY BEEN INVOLVED IN HELPING HOME BUYERS AND BUILDERS WHOSE HOMES WERE DAMAGED IN THE MASSACHUSETTS TORNADOES. WHAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE?
It has been eye-opening. First, who would ever think of a tornado being so damaging in Massachusetts? We just don’t think of those things up north. I was at a builder’s open house in the tornado-damaged area and met a gentleman whose home collapsed into his basement while he was sleeping. He was miraculously thrown from the house onto a neighbor’s lawn. His chimney collapsed one foot to his left, a large section of the porch was one foot to the right, and he only had a scratch on his arm. Even his dog was blown free of the destruction and was unharmed. Though he lost everything, he didn’t lose sight of how lucky he was. We sat together for a few hours designing a new home for him.
I’ve also been working with another woman whose home, though not destroyed, was so damaged that it can’t be salvaged. She was telling me of a recent trip to the supermarket. Somehow, the other folks in the checkout line discovered she had lost her home in the tornado. A little boy came up to her, handed her a bunch of flowers and a twenty dollar bill. He said his daddy wanted her to have the flowers, and that the money would cover the expense. When she got near the front of the line, she was told that the family in front of her was going to pay for her order. Though it’s sad to see the destruction, it’s heartwarming to hear how people will pull together when faced with a challenge like this. I’m very honored to be able to witness it and hopefully help some people rebuild their lives.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR HOMEOWNERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED DAMAGE TO THEIR HOMES FROM A NATURAL DISASTER?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who would like to do something—they’re just looking for the opportunity. And like the gentlemen who lost his home, don’t just focus on what was lost; be thankful for what you have. Material things can always be replaced. Friends, family, neighbors and communities are priceless.
WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT – PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY – IN 2011?
I’m looking forward to seeing a little more consumer confidence as we start to come out of the financial downturn, and I look forward to doing my part to help my coworkers have a successful 2011.