Mike Kerns Retires After 22 Years!
Every customer on Mike Kerns’ route looks forward to seeing him when he stops by to deliver clean garments and mats and pick up dirty ones. Brad Brickzin, District Manager at the CR depot, tells a story of one customer who was in his car already driving away for the day, but when he saw Mike’s truck approach, he turned around and came back to make sure they got a chance to have a conversation.
Anyone who has spent time riding along with Mike could tell many stories like this from Mike’s multiple decades as a Route Service Representative, and his ability to tailor his service to their individual needs. Mike was hired at CITY in 2000 and has worked for over 20 years as an RSR, serving clients around Northeast Iowa.
Our RSRs are the face of our company, the employees who have the most interaction with customers, so it’s vital they make a good impression. Mike has always done an excellent job cultivating positive relationships with clients, and they are very fond of him as well. “Mike takes great care of our needs, and genuinely cares about us,” one customer wrote on our annual customer survey. Another customer said the only way we could improve is if we were to “clone Mike!” While we haven’t quite got the cloning technology down, we have been fortunate to have Mike setting a great example for new RSRs, always willing to help his co-workers and modeling for new employees how to be a great RSR.
“Mike really has a servant’s heart,” says Brad Brickzin. “What Mike has done is influence the entire team. Not only does he build very strong relationships with his customers, but he’s helped train everyone, including me, so he’s a big part of why we have such a solid team. His retirement is like an oak tree being taken out of the forest. He’s just such a solid person.”
Regional Manager Marty Kruse agreed, saying, “Mike is the model route rep. I truly appreciate everything he’s done for CITY. Every time I go in to see his customers, I know I’m going in there to have a great meeting. There are never any issues. He’s going to be truly missed.”
Mike said if he were to give RSRs any advice, he’d tell them, “Just keep your customers happy, and they’ll keep coming back. And don’t rush, because once you start rushing, safety gets put on the back burner, and that’s when accidents happen. Always choose safety over speed. If you have to fill out an accident report, that won’t save you any time. The customers will see that too, and appreciate you doing things the safe way.”
For Mike, every customer is a friend. He says that he “kills them with kindness,” and tries to get to know them well, which shows in their devotion to him, and this comes across clearly when speaking with customers. Al Wright, owner at John’s Automotive considers Mike family. “Mike has always been someone I know I can rely on. I can call him any time of the day. He has always been like family to us, and has a great attitude and takes great care of us. We have a potluck before Thanksgiving every year, and there’s always a seat for Mike.”
“The company has changed a lot since I started in 2000. It’s grown a lot, which has been really exciting to see. It’s been wonderful working at CITY for most of my career, with the family-oriented atmosphere,” Mike says.
Mike knows about a family atmosphere, as he worked for many years with his wife, Rhonda Kerns, CITY’s billing specialist who retired from CITY this past Spring. In retirement, Mike says they are both looking forward to going south for the winter and escaping the harsh Iowa cold.
President Colin Wetlaufer recalls the first time he met Mike: “I remember when we first met, I was 16-years-old, and you were a route skipper, and we had a sales consultant in for some training. You were nervous for the sales training, I was nervous for the sales training, but spending a few days in a conference room together in a conference room, I got to see how much you carried about things, and working with you for the next 22 years after that, you’ve always carried about the customer first, truly lived our values. You’ve just been a great teammate, and we’ll miss you, but happy retirement, and have fun with Rhonda.”
Thanks for so many years of great service, Mike!