At the End of the Day, Everything is Fixable | By Justin Olson
When I was 18 years old, I had a passion for hockey like most Minnesota teens, but I also knew I needed a job. I was searching for a job that would allow me to follow my passion and that is how I came to working in the laundering industry. My father had worked in this industry and after speaking with him, he is the reason why I came to work in this industry. He is also the reason why I grew to love this industry and ended up staying in it today, 16 years later.
My first job was loading and unloading trucks. I did that for a few years, and then I was moved up to a Route Apprentice position. As an apprentice, I filled in for routes whenever I was needed. I did that until I got promoted to having my own route. After 3 – 4 years running my own route, I was offered a Route Manager position.
Throughout this entire process, I have always had my father to talk to because this is a really unique industry and it really helped having someone to talk to about all of the daily ups and downs.
Then I heard of a company called CITY that was moving into Minnesota. It was a family-owned industrial laundry and I thought this would be a perfect fit for me. It is in the same industry that I am in and I get to stick to my family values. I applied and CITY offered me a District Manager position in one of their expanding territories.
I have been with CITY for quite awhile now and I love the family and team atmosphere. In this industry, it is all about how you take care of your own. I believe, Route Service Representatives (RSR) need to be more than just delivery drivers. We are a service. Our RSR’s aren’t like bus drivers or mail carriers where you can drop off your stuff and go. We have a service to provide to our customers. It doesn’t work if we drop off the items and the invoice, then leave. That is not how we work at CITY. The customers always need to be aware of what is going on. If there is a problem with a client’s service, we need to have the rapport to be able to fix it. Since I have been in this industry for a while now, I know there is a solution to every service concern.
There are a lot of moving parts in the service industry, but at the end of the day, everything is fixable. To start, it’s important to be transparent through it all; from regular deliveries to onboarding new accounts, it is essential to be transparent. I think transparency goes a long way with the customers. You need to be honest and let them know everything they need to know up front. This way, there are no surprises for them down the road. There have been times that being transparent has caused more issues than not, but for me, I wouldn’t change anything I do. I want to continue to be upfront and honest, and that is something I directly learned from my father.
My dad was a great leader, just hearing and seeing the way he led, inspired me to lead like him. One of the things my dad taught me was how to lead by example. I’ve always thought if I am not willing to do something, how can I expect an employee or an RSR to do it. I believe it is essential to help your employees; not do it for them but show them how to do something. It’s like what Mark Ballo [CITY, Des Moines Regional Manager] says, “You can’t manage the results, but you can manage the process.” That same sense of teaching is ingrained in the CITY culture. That’s why I work and stay working for CITY.
CITY is on growth mode and I’ve never been with a company growing this fast. With rapid growth comes service concerns. I am aware of that and I will keep leading by example and being transparent with clients & our employees. As a District Manager, when my phone rings, it is usually a concern of some kind. It is not too often that someone calls me to tell me how amazing their delivery was, but it is the phone calls from my teammates that help me know what we are doing is right. I am confident in our team and I know we have a bright future.
I know this is just the start of my career and I want to keep going. I want CITY to keep growing, and I want to grow with it.