The buildup and level of excitement that came along with being this year's candidate for the leadership program was intense but so worth it!
Jonas Hutchison and his family (Heather, Julia and Andrew) picked me up on Sunday the 23rd of September to get ready for my time at Party Reflections in Charlotte, North Carolina the following day. They have been extremely welcoming and I already feel like I can call this home....
On Monday, Heather who also works for Party Reflections along with Jonas, gave me the initial tour of the offices, warehouse and other departments at the company. Everyone has been super friendly and is looking forward to showing me their role at Party Reflections.
This week I worked closely with Douglas Crowe (sales manager) as he showed me the sales side of the company. We spoke about products and services, clients and customers, training procedures and the IT program they use. I also worked with the sales team in the office and attended some onsite meetings and network events.
I was involved in their Fall table top competition where the sales team pair up and create a new look for their showroom. They then post the photos on their website where customers can vote for their favorite table top. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the voting and I think everyone should go online and vote!
The main difference I have noticed with Party Reflections and Excel Events is the fast pace in the office due to the many different departments in this business. The phones are constantly ringing and I think that the sales team handle it very well. They are all lovely to work with and seem very passionate about what they do and are always willing to explain something to me or talk me through an event.
I am looking forward to the next few weeks at Party Reflections....
Week two was a busy week for me. I was able to explore the company on a whole new level.
I worked with Jonas in Operations as he showed me the ins and outs of the business and went through the different roles of the company; there certainly was a lot to learn! We also went through the hire program that Party Reflections use in detail and I was able to put an order into the system.
I spent some time in the dish room and cannot believe how many dishes go in and out on a daily basis. I learned how to pack orders, check and count all the dishes that are returned, separate the dishes for cleaning, check for any updated orders/new orders for the following day, and when I left at 5:00 p.m. the dish room crew were still working away.
On Wednesday, Cristin Lee, Party Reflections' marketing manager, took me to a networking conference at Charlotte University where we listened to a guest speaker. I was able to meet a variety of people from the party and event industry. Cristin is great with introductions and certainly introduced me to the right people.
Additionally, I spent some time in the linen department and saw how that is run because I had many questions to ask. Party Reflections (The Linen Gallery) really is a business within itself! The team is incredible and I have nothing but praise for them and how their system works. I came at a very busy time with linen coming in and going back out on the same day and I must say that everyone in that department took time to show me what they were doing and how they were doing it. With the huge variety of linen it is amazing how their team keeps up-and they make it look so easy too.
Friday was a busy day as I was able to go onsite. I drove around in one of the trucks as we did a furniture delivery and set-up a clear dance floor with lighting underneath. We also hung some pipe and drape for a wedding. I think the delivery crew was surprised that I can actually work hard and I think they enjoyed the truck smelling like perfume instead of its usual scent too :)
I have been told next week I will be working onsite so I am looking forward to finally putting up a tent!
Until next time....
Wow time really is flying by....I can't believe I'm only here for another week! I have met some incredible people and friends that will last a lifetime!!
This week I was able to watch the crew put up a big 25m x 30m marquee. It was good to watch them work as a team and see the different techniques they use compared to our crew at Excel Events. The main difference I noticed was that Party Reflections use a forklift to push up their large structure and we use manpower. The marquee was being used for a dinner for 700 people at Davidson College, a very nice school, and consisted of a marquee with chandeliers, round table, chivari chairs, a small stage and glass doors. It was a long day but I am glad I was able to experience it. The crew even let me help and I sure did feel the soreness from the job during the week.
I was able to work alongside Kellie as she showed me her role in PR. Kellie deals a lot with the transfers from Charlotte to the Party Reflections branch in Raleigh. They do at least two transers a week. Her role seems very stressful with orders coming in and getting changed, making sure that everything gets there and back in time; but she sure does handle it well. We are going up to Raleigh sometime next week and I am looking forward to seeing how that store is run.
I spent some time in the warehouse and worked with Chris as he told me about his role and taught me how to pack tents. It was good to see the different types of marquees such as peg and pole, structure and frame tents.
On Friday I spent time with Ryan and his team to put up frame tents and deliver furniture for an event called the Blues, Brews and BBQ at the NC Music Factory. It looked like a great festival to attend and the food smelled delicious! I had a good day and really felt at home back onsite and working with the team.
I can't believe how quick time as gone by as I leave Charlotte this Friday. I've truly enjoyed my stay here and look forward to seeing what my last week has in store for me.
My final week....
This week I got to revisit some of the areas I enjoyed most at Party Reflections, in particular the Linen Gallery. I got to load and unload linen into the washing machines and dryers, put them through the press and was shown how to fold them. I think I held up the line a little bit but after a few tries I think I got the hang of it, either that or the girls were taking it easy on me!
I also worked in the workshop with two of my favorite guys (and valuable employees) Ramon Senior and Tamo. They work downstairs in the workshop where they build and fix almost anything! I was lucky enough to spend a day down there as they showed me how to build a farm table, I used tools that I have never used before and got to paint and laser some of my very own farm tables. I even suggested a new name calling them the "Aussie Outback" tables instead of the farm tables, not sure if management will approve but the guys thought it was a great idea :)
Finally I arrived in Chicago for the ARA Leadership Conference. It was a great opportunity for me to meet the leaders of the industry where I learned about their roles and procedures. Again everyone was so friendly and made the effort to introduce themselves and enjoyed talking to me about my trip.
The ARA Foundation did a fantastic job with pairing me up with one of the best hire companies in America, Party Reflections. It was very sad saying goodbye to the team; they really are an inspiration to all hire companies and made a huge impact in my life, but the hardest goodbye would definitely have to be saying goodbye to the Hutchison family. They took me in like I was one of their own and taught me so much, not only about themselves but also about myself. I will forever be grateful to them and only hope I can one day repay the favor and have them stary with me in Australia. They made my stay so enjoyable by taking me to see some amazing things like the White Water Center where we got to go white water rafting, Godfather Mountain where I mined for gems and I was fortunate enough to help plan and celebrate Heather's birthday party which will definitely be a night to remember. I also carved my first ever pumpkin which I am so proud of, these are all memories which will last a lifetime and I am so lucky to have been a part of such a wonderful opportunity.
I can honestly say that I had the opportunity of a lifetime and would definitely recommend this program to everyone. When I first heard about the leadership program from my managers, I never thought the HRIA would pick me but my managers Patricia and Mark encouraged me to go for it. I'm so glad I put my name down because I learned so much and met people that will be a part of my life forever.
A huge thank you to the Hire and Rental Association in Australia, the American Rental Association, the ARA Foundation, Mark Edwards and Patricia Koroneos from Excel Events, Dan Hooks from Party Reflections and my new family the Hutchison family for making this such an incredible opportunity for me.