This piece is the first in a series that will showcase one Arandell A-Team member at a time and highlight their day-to-day responsibilities, hobbies, interests and overall personality.
On June 23rd, 2019, Kathy Schaber – Manager of Client Services – officially celebrated her 50th anniversary with Arandell. Yup that’s right, she will have been here FIFTY whole years – something most working folks can’t even imagine these days. To put that into proper context, here’s what was going on around the time Kathy started with Arandell at the age of 18 in 1969:
• Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon
• Richard Nixon was sworn in as the 37th president of the United States of America
• Woodstock attracted more than 350,000 rock-n-roll fans
• The average cost of a new car was $3,270
• Brett Favre was born
That isn’t to call her old by any means, as Kathy is one of the liveliest, and most visibly busy people working in the entire office here at our headquarters in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. As Manager of Client Services, Kathy serves as “an extra set of eyes”, reviewing each and every job ticket from the Client Services team before it is officially released to the production department. She is extremely sharp and needs to be, considering the high level of intricacy and detail that goes into every job order.
Kathy also works as a proactive problem solver and is one of the first people to both uncover – and fix – the inevitable issues that occur on the client side of our day-to-day operations. In fact, some of our clients have even specifically mentioned Kathy as the sole reason they were able to avoid a costly mistake.
Being with a company for 50 years means Kathy has been with Arandell through the best times and through some of the most challenging times – which is why she was easily the best candidate for our first ever Employee Spotlight. Here’s a little bit more about Kathy Schaber, Arandell’s most dedicated employee:
Tell us more about your background.
Well when I first started, the company was still called E.F. Schmidt and hadn’t officially changed its name to Arandell yet. I had gone to a year of business college after high school and got a position here as a production secretary. I was responsible for typing up all production tickets – of course it was on a typewriter at the time – and would have to route those tickets throughout the plant. I also delivered in-office mail, so I did quite a bit of running around back then. In fact, I actually met my husband Gene through a happy coincidence while running around one day. He saw me crossing the street while he was driving home from work and while I was delivering some mail and asked a mutual acquaintance to set us up on a blind date. We’ll be celebrating our 49th anniversary together later this year.
What originally drew you to Arandell?
At the time, working here was just a job. I never would have dreamt that I’d be here for 50 years. I really needed the job and everything else fell into place. Over the years, I’ve just been able to work my way up, originally starting as a production secretary like I mentioned earlier, then becoming a sales assistant to customer service representative and sales support representative after that. Now, I’ve been co-managing the Client Services department with Wendy Hunjadi for well over 15 years.
What’s the number one reason you’ve stayed?
I think the number one reason I’ve stayed is just because I’ve been given so many amazing opportunities over the years. Most of the people I’ve met have been incredible and I’ve just grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle that I’ve really enjoyed while working here.
Who is/was the most influential person that helped you get to where you are at Arandell?
That would have to be Chuck Minney. He was such a great mentor to a lot of people within Arandell so I’m sure I’m not alone in that, but he was certainly the most influential in getting me to where I am now. Years ago, the former head of the sales department left Arandell and moved to another printing company called Moebius Printing. At the time, he wanted me to move over to Moebius with him and continue to serve in the sales assistant role. But Chuck went to bat for me internally here at Arandell and externally as well to try and keep me here and it worked. A few years later, Moebius was forced to file for bankruptcy and eventually ended up shutting down. Without Chuck, who knows what would have happened.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over the last 50 years within the company and in the industry?
Well the answer to that has to be technology. The whole technology and automation of things have really helped us to evolve in the marketplace. Things are much more efficient than they used to be and while I’m still running around, it’s not nearly as much just because certain processes and tasks have become integrated with great technology.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
My primary responsibilities include reviewing every single job ticket before it is released to production. I must interpret if both our clients and our Customer Service Reps have filled out the information properly and catch any discrepancies before it goes to production. Any type of piece that cuts and folds I must review as well. Over the years working here, I’ve gotten a pretty sharp eye for the little mistakes that can end up being costly. Also, because every client has their own software and process for the actual print instructions, it can be difficult to interpret so a second or even third set of eyes is absolutely critical. I also touch base with the Sample department where our handbound catalogs are done and help them to prioritize certain clients based on the in-home and production dates, order size and other special requests that may come in.
What do you enjoy the most about working at Arandell?
The variety. You might be surprised by this but no two days in my 50 years have ever been the same. You have a list you put together or your priorities for the day and you think you’re going to get them all accomplished but something always comes up. Some people might not like that but I have really enjoyed dealing with and working through the issues that inevitably come up.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work? Any hobbies?
Shopping is one of my favorite things to do, but if I’m not doing that I also enjoy going up north to our time share in the Chain O’ Lakes area near Eagle River. I enjoy golfing when I go up there, though I’m not very good at it. My husband Gene and I also go to either Arizona, Florida or California every year during Thanksgiving and do a Caribbean cruise once a year in either January or February to break up the cold during winter. We did an Alaskan cruise one year as well and absolutely loved it.
What’s your favorite vending machine snack or drink?
Well, I really don’t go to the vending machine ever but if I had to pick a favorite snack it would have to be either Cheetos or cashews. I don’t really drink soda either so if I had to pick a drink of choice it’d have to be a vodka tonic.
Who is your favorite band or artist?
I love the American Standards. Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand for the most part. I listen to Siriusly Sinatra on Sirius XM radio every morning on my way to work. Though they’re not part of the American Standards, I also really enjoy ABBA as well.
If I had to pick an artist that’s a bit more modern I enjoy listening to Michael Bublé as well.
Do you have a favorite TV show or movie?
I used to watch Law & Order quite a bit, but I love watching NCIS these days. It’s the only show I would say that I watch regularly, and I enjoy it because you’ve really got to pay attention as certain parts of the show refer back to earlier episodes that could be from completely different seasons.
I originally got into NCIS because it’s a spin-off of an older show I used to watch called JAG that was about a group of Navy vets, now lawyers, who investigated crimes committed by Navy and Marine personnel.
Final Question: Thinking back over the last 50 years, if you had one piece of advice for new or current employees what would it be?
If I had to share one piece of advice after 50 years here, it’d be don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be a complicated industry and process to learn at times, but people need to know that there’s never a dumb question. You’ll make mistakes but sometimes that’s the best way to learn. Get out there and start learning with your hands and eyes a little bit as well. The electronic and technology integrations that exist today are still good for the company and our industry but when you’re just learning, it’s a steeper learning curve without going out into the plant and physically seeing how the process works.
CONGRATS ON 50 YEARS, KATHY!!