This week, meet two team members who normally work behind the scenes.
Throughout any given day, you'll find digital pressman Bill Britton tucked away among our presses, making sure every order is printed to perfection.
One flight up, usually behind a computer screen, you'll find Laura Weeks, our marketing communications coordinator (and author of this blog series — hello!). As our social media administrator, she's (I'm) always looking for new ways to engage our followers, whether it's through photos, videos, Twitter campaigns or blog posts.
How long have you been with Magnets USA? One year.
What does a typical day at work look like? Heavy production and multiple challenges.
What's the best part of the job? Being challenged, seeing the finished product.
What's the best adventure you've ever been on? Backpacking in Havasupai Canyon, in the west end of the Grand Canyon, and seeing how the Havasupai people live.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? My father. I didn't get to have enough dinners with him, and he always had the best advice about life and how to live it.
What do you love most about your family? The fact that they love me (most of the time).
How long have you been with Magnets USA? Since June, so I’m still learning new things every day.
What’s the most rewarding part of the job? My position allows me to do so many of the things I love, including photography and videography, design, writing and using social media to build connections.
What does a typical day at the office look like? Without fail, each morning starts with coffee and one of several Indie-folk playlists on Spotify. Then I catch up with our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Though every day is a little different, most involve shooting photos for marketing campaigns, creating fresh designs for our website and writing copy for different departments as needed.
What's one of your biggest accomplishments? In 2012, I spent a month in Italy studying multimedia journalism. Not only was it my first time out of the country, but we were in a town where very little English was spoken. Despite these challenges, I sought out my own story idea and developed it across written, visual and audio platforms. Running around the city, scheduling interviews and photo shoots, late-night editing sessions — I loved every second of it. In the end, my photography was voted No. 1 and article among the top five by our faculty, which included a Pulitzer-winning reporter, a Washington Post photographer and a former New York Times art director. Want to see it? Take a look.
What was the last experience that made you a stronger person? My dad died my freshman year of college. It was shattering in every way possible — until I started turning that tragic experience into positive ones, like becoming a staff photographer and later, an editor, for my college newspaper and applying for the program in Italy. Three years later, I memorialized my dad's life into one of my favorite photography projects, called "Portrait of My Father."
If you could give one piece of advice to large group of people, what would it be? When I was little, I remember my mom telling me, "If nothing else, have compassion for people." Those are always words worth passing along.
As a company that prides itself on being family-owned for almost 25 years, we’re excited to introduce brothers Dale and Alan Turner.
Founder and co-owner, Dale oversees our sales and marketing departments, frequently traveling with members of our sales team to trade shows around the country.
As president, Alan spearheads our production team to ensure that all processes are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Together, Dale and Alan’s complementary passions are the fuel behind everything we do here at Magnets USA.
What does a typical day look like?
Dale: My days start early, sometimes at 5:30. A typical day involves video conferencing in to meetings, reviewing and answering emails and critiquing new products and designs.
Since part of my responsibility is planning ahead, I’m always thinking about new products and marketing strategies. I always look for how we can improve what we’re doing and how to create new things our customers will love.
Alan: My day starts with a cup of coffee and our daily production meeting. After that, my day can go in many directions. More meetings, researching or studying a business process, paperwork, talking to employees, etc. Generally, my days fly by.
What's the most rewarding part of the job?
Dale: Talking to our customers at trade shows. Our customers are so great and are our most important source for new designs and products — I love hearing their comments and suggestions. I take great pride in knowing our products are effective for them and that they’re still choosing us after 20 years or more.
I am also thrilled that we have so many employees who have been with us for many years. It really does seem like a big family, and new employees seem to blend in so quickly. I am so proud that so many people choose to continue their careers with us.
Alan: Providing employees with a rewarding, satisfying place to work — all while providing quality products and services to all our customers.
What words of wisdom inspire you?
Dale: Most recently, a Jeff Bezos quote inspires me: “Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.” Also, “Expect the unexpected.” In business and in life, there are always surprises. Things will continually evolve, so being flexible and adapting to present circumstances is a must. Change also makes life so enjoyable.
Alan: It is impossible for me to identify any one thing, but at the top of the list are: Work hard. Be honest and fair. Treat employees and customers like you want to be treated.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?
Dale: Do something you know and like. Become an expert before you make a business out of it. Get help in areas of business where you are not proficient. Just because you’re a great cook doesn’t mean you know how to run a restaurant.
Most businesses start small, and money may not be sufficient in the beginning — so make sure you’re okay while your business develops. Use your common sense and trust yourself.
Who in your life inspires you most?
Alan: I work to make and keep my faith in Jesus Christ as my focus and inspiration. It is great knowing that there's a higher power watching over us.
What’s your vision for Magnets USA 10 years down the line?
Dale: The world changes faster than ever now, so I expect Magnets USA will adapt to those changes. While we’ll still be doing what we are now, I also think we’ll be focused on things that are not magnets. The future will be full of new surprises, I am sure, and we will always allow our customers to guide us.
What do you love most about living in the Roanoke Valley?
Alan: Great, hardworking, charitable people; beautiful mountains; spring, summer, winter and fall; a variety of outdoor activities; and a short commute, to name a few.
When it comes to helping our customers, these guys represent two very important parts of the process. As a marketing consultant and graphic designer, Alan and Brian make sure you've chosen the best marketing product and that the design is reflective of your business personality.
How long have you been with Magnets USA? Six years.
What does a typical day at the office look like? BUSY! Lots of calls and emails (both incoming and outbound) and a LOT of talking!
What’s the best part of the job? The camaraderie I share with my co-workers, and the fact that I work with a very giving and generous group of people who like to help others in need — through donations, fundraisers, giving blood, collecting school supplies for the Rescue Mission and sponsoring children and families at Christmas. It makes me proud to be part of such a good group of people.
How would you spend an unexpected day off? What’s that? I don’t understand…
If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would it be? Bruce Lee, 'cause he’s Bruce Lee.
What’s one of your biggest accomplishments? Making it through a nasty Achilles tendon surgery and rehab and being able to walk again.
How long have you been with Magnets USA? Four months.
What’s the best part of the job? Aside from helping customers with their marketing needs, I would have to say the people I work with. I'm fairly new here, and everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful from the start.
What does a typical day at work look like? It usually revolves around food. Nine times out of ten, someone has brought in food for everyone — I'm a big fan.
What are your hobbies outside of work? Working out, drawing and personal design work.
If you won $1 million, how would you spend it? I would say bills, but that's not very interesting — so I would probably plan an awesome vacation.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend? Nothing too specific, just getting to spend time with friends or family doing something fun like a cookout.
This is the year to become a pumpkin-carving pro. A jack-o'-lantern ace. A prince or princess of the patch. But you won't be able to succeed alone. No, you'll need an army of carefully crafted cutlery and insider intel. Luckily, we've got some tricks — and treats! — up our sleeves. Let's get started.
1. Start with the right tools. Say BOO! to those tiny, plastic carving kits that break mid-cut, and hello to cutlery that's heroic enough for the job. For our Magnets USA-inspired pumpkin, we chose our LifeLong Cutlery paring (left) and filet knives. Hello, dream team.
2. Begin at the bottom. Rather than cutting a hole around the stem, make one at the base of the pumpkin. This way, you can place the pumpkin over the light, instead of having to reach inside the pumpkin to position your candle. Pro tip: With your paring knife, carve an indention for the tea light to sit comfortably.
3. Gut it. Arguably the best part of carving a pumpkin, removing the insides is the time to conjure that messy kid you used to be. So roll up your sleeves, put on your game face and go for it. Pro tip: Save the seeds for a delicious treat. Did someone say Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle?
4. Punch your way to perfection. With your design taped to the pumpkin, use a thumbtack to establish an outline. When it comes to jack-o'-lanterns, staying inside the lines is a good thing — and will help prevent your freaky Frankenstein or cackling cat from becoming one terrifying blob.
5. Conquer the cut. We suggest starting with the smallest parts of your design. The paring knife, which features a short, easy-to-control blade, is a great detailing knife. For the larger sections, we found that the filet knife, with its thin and flexible blade, was best.
6. Polish it off. When you're finished cutting and all the pieces have been removed, it's time to add the finishing touches. Use your paring knife to carefully shave any ragged edges or remove stray guts. Pro tip: To keep your pumpkin looking alive through Halloween night, mist the interior with a bleach and water mixture. This will prevent molding and keep bugs away. You can also cover the edges with petroleum jelly to prevent shriveling.
This week, meet marketing consultant Amy Clark and web administrator Kristen Vander Kooy. Each day, they work hard to make sure your experience with us is helpful and hassle-free.
How long have you been with Magnets USA? Four and a half years.
What does a typical day at the office look like? From start to finish, it’s about our customers. From taking calls to working with graphics and our admin department, we make sure our customers are happy and we have provided great service and a quality product they can be proud of!
What’s the best part of the job? The best part of my job is building relationships with my customers. I love to work on special projects with them, helping them design unique marketing products. As an added bonus, I have an opportunity to meet many of our customers at REALTOR Expos across the country!
Who in your life inspires you? My grandmother inspires me the most. Raising a family in the 40s and 50s, they didn't have much money. She would tell me stories about working on the family farm and the roles everyone took to make sure they had enough to survive. To this day, she continues to be a hard worker. At 87 years old, my grandmother works a full-time job, sells cosmetics on the side and travels to visit family and friends every weekend. There's no stopping that lady, and I love her so much!
What are some of your passions outside of work? I enjoy spending time with friends and family, but in the fall, you can find me in front of the TV on Saturdays and Sundays ... I LOVE FOOTBALL!
If you won $1 million, how would you spend it? That's easy! I would buy a nice house, take a vacation, pay off some bills and save, save, save! I'm thinking a trip to Greece or Italy would do me some good.
Kristen Vander Kooy
How long have you been with Magnets USA? Almost three and a half years.
What’s the best part of the job? I don’t get to write a ton of code, but when I do, seeing it work properly is pretty cool.
What does a typical day at the office look like? There’s not really a typical day for me. It really depends on what’s needed at the moment. Fixing problems, adding new products, updating pages and working with templates for Build-It are some of the usual suspects.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend? Getting to spend time with friends and family, but also having plenty of downtime at home to relax. It also helps to have an extra day. Long weekends are the best.
What’s your proudest accomplishment? My college degrees and deciding to change career paths (I was a counselor for six years), even though it was terrifying and a lot of work. At one point I was working two jobs and going to school. I’m proud to have just survived that year.
What's the best gift you've ever received and what made it so special?
I hesitate to say best ever, because I’ve received a lot of really thoughtful gifts that were special for different reasons, but most recently my new cousin-in-law took our wedding photos and they are amazing. He captured some really great moments and made the day even more special than it already was. That’s definitely a gift I’ll never forget. I also got a KitchenAid stand mixer that I didn’t ask for, but one of my best friends knew I wanted. I’ve always had a soft spot for intuitive gifts.