Posted by McElroy Metal ● Jan 3, 2023 10:24:37 AM
A McElroy Minute with Heather Key
For our next spotlight discussion, we turned the focus to our Customer Service group. Trust us when we say the conversation was fast-paced and full of laughter when we chatted with Commercial Senior Customer Service Rep Heather Key. Heather works from our corporate office in Bossier City, LA, where she handles all of the southeast (region four commercial) and a little bit of the northeast.
Heather’s career with us started fifteen years ago when she was offered a Customer Service position. The closest thing that she had to industry experience when she joined us was a temporary position as a receptionist at Ryerson Metals. She still finds it funny that someone felt that loose connection made her a good candidate. Thankfully, when she interviewed with the Jean Simpson Temp Agency, they saw a spark and knew she’d be a good fit despite her lack of math skills!
Heather was recently promoted to Senior Rep, where she serves as a group leader and point of contact for new folks. She likens it to a mentor role but laughs as she shares that she always tells people she doesn’t know a lot, but she knows where to find out. Obviously, she’s as humble as she is funny!
What’s kept you at McElroy? The first three months were very hard, but I made it by telling myself that I could quit anytime. Here I am 15 years later. This is the longest I’ve ever held the same job. Usually, I’m gone after 2-2 ½ years because I get bored. I’m still here because it’s challenging, and I love the people.
Heather and her work girls for Halloween 2020 as their nightmare color chips. Left to Right: Alexis Tilley, Misti McDonald, Heather, Cheryl Collier, Sharon Strickland, Victoria Marchenko, Carnisha Clark, and Bree Berridge
Like everyone else, I’ve had some bad days where I considered just walking out, but the people that I work with are what keep me here and coming back. I really value those relationships…most of the time when I don’t want to strangle them anyway. I also have really good customers. For example, I came back to work after lunch today and have a gift from one and an Edible Arrangement from another.
Share something you’ve learned in the last month. I learn daily that there is always something new to learn. These girls will ask me a question, and I often have to say that even though I’ve been here a thousand years that I don’t know everything. For example, I’m working on an order right now that is making me learn something new after 15 years. I am working on a Maxima order with ADV and no shoulders. I have never in my life had to do that. I tend to work more with purlins, exposed fastener panels, Masterlok, and trims, so this is a first for me.
If you could switch jobs with anyone else in the company, who would it be and why? My funny answer to the question (because I think I’m hilarious) is VP of Sales Mark Lawson, so I could walk around with a coffee cup all day.
What advice would you give to new hires? Hang in there. It gets better. You will learn. You don’t have to know everything right now. I’ve been here for 15 years, and I’m still learning. And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even when my face tells you not to ask me questions, ask questions. I tell them all the time, “don’t be scared; just ask me.”
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? I was an English major, and the math in this job makes my head hurt, but I’m so much better at math now than I was when I started.
What was the first concert you attended? I remember this like it just happened. In reality, it was 1989, and I was 13 years old. We were visiting my grandparents in Kingwood, TX, and the local Houston radio station was giving away Bon Jovi tickets to the 104th caller. Bon Jovi was my everything at the time. My mom, dad, and grandparents were all like, yes, go ahead and try calling in. Well, guess who was the 104th caller??? I can still remember the feeling of being like wow, I won! We had to drive all the way back to Houston a month later, so I could go to the show. I’ll never forget it. It was the New Jersey tour on January 29th at The Summit in Houston. My mom and dad had a love for all types of music and a nice stereo and listened to records all the time in the house and car, but that was the first concert that was all about me and my musical taste. We are not musical people, but we love music!
A few items from Heather’s autographed music memorabilia collection
If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? I could eat spaghetti and chicken and dumplings every day. I would not hate that. I love food. That’s how we plan our vacations. It’s all about what we’re going to eat. I’ve never been skinny, but I’m definitely not going to get it here. Sharon (Bossier Commercial Customer Service Manager) is already trying to plan a food day, and we haven’t even eaten lunch yet today.
What’s something on your bucket list and why? Diving with sharks. I have loved sharks since I saw Jaws as a kid. My dad used to run Showtown Drive-in on Monkhouse Drive in Shreveport. We lived out there when I was a kid, and we saw movies all the time. I would probably get eaten by a shark, but I still want to go down in a cage and see them up close. Great whites are my favorite. I’d also love to travel out of the country. I’d love to go to some European city like Amsterdam or Austria where it’s a little chilly. They always seem so beautiful.
A few items from Heather's Shark Collection
Name one item you can’t live without. Music. I even listen to music with my headphones at work to block people out and help me focus and stay calm. When I was thinking about things before we talked, I planned on mentioning my dogs, too, but they made me mad last night, so right now, I can live without them.
What’s the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery? First, I would pay off my student loans…my many, many student loans. The second thing might be to consider a new car. I usually drive a tiny little Chevy Spark, but I was recently in a car accident, and they gave me a Dodge Challenger with a Hemi for a rental while mine is being repaired. It is nice, really nice. I am loving it. Everyone keeps asking me if I miss being able to whip into parking spots with my little car. And the answer is no. I do not. The one I’m driving now is just fine!
Where are you happiest? Galveston, TX, is my happy place. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived in Kingwood, outside of Houston. I went for two weeks every summer, and we went to the beach. I have great childhood memories there. I’m already planning my vacation there for next year.
Picture from Galveston, TX Condo
What do you like to do in your free time? I have nephews and nieces that I enjoy spending time with. A couple of them live in my neighborhood, and the others live about an hour away. I was able to spend some time with them over the holidays. My Mom and I recently took my 8-year-old nephew to the Busy B Ranch Wildlife Park in Jefferson, TX. It’s a drive-through safari. I’m not sure if he had fun, but I had an excellent time. I enjoy seeing standup comedy live too. My ultimate favorite is Craig Ferguson, but I also like Christopher Titus, and I just bought my tickets to see Bert Kreischer next year.
In between all of that, I have five dogs that anyone can adopt whenever they want. They’re all small dogs under 15 lbs. Four of them are girls: I have two Chihuahuas; one Chiweenie; one Affenpinscher (which looks like a Toto dog), and one girl that we really don’t know what she is. We also have one little boy (the only male one in our house), and he's a rotten mess.
Nikita Josephine Rylee Grace
What does your ideal weekend look like? My weekends are all about eating, drinking, and swimming. I am lucky enough to have a pool in my backyard. I love to do my yardwork (with my dogs, of course) and then get into the pool and just relax. You’d think with five dogs, at least one of them would want to get in the pool with me, but none of them will.
Is music important to you? And if so, who are your favorites? Music is extremely important to me. Growing up, my parents always listened to music. We go to Dallas a lot for concerts. Rock is my favorite music. Faith No More is my current obsession, but you can also find me listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars (probably my favorite favorite), Nine Inch Nails (my boy is named Reznor for a reason), Kings of Leon, and Matchbox Twenty.
Heather with Thirty Seconds to Mars’ Shannon and Jared Leto
This last couple of years with no concerts was rough. I saw one right before the pandemic and am just starting to go back to them. I finally saw Pearl Jam after being in love with them for 31 years. I said I just pretended we were all still young and beautiful, and it was 1992 again. We often have to travel to Dallas or New Orleans. If I can afford it, I’d like to go to 5-6 concerts a year. I’ve been to two this year since September, and I already have some lined up for next year. I’m finally going to get to see Pantera! I had tickets to see them in 1994 at Hirsch Coliseum here in Shreveport, but they canceled the show while I was still in the parking lot, so it never happened. I’m technically only going to get to see half of them now, but it still counts.
What’s something not many people know about you? Growing up, I always wanted to be a rock journalist for Rolling Stone or any music magazine. I wanted to do that and/or write children's books. I love a good children's book. That comes from my grandmother. She always read to me and gave me a love of reading. Kate Dicamillo is one of my favorites thanks to her stories like “Because of Winn Dixie,” “Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and “The Magician’s Elephant,” the most beautiful book I have ever read. I drove to Dallas just to meet her. It was awesome! It’s like I’m 12 years old again. Maybe someday, when I’m retired, I’ll pick the writing back up. For now, though, I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind working. I just need a vacation every once in a while.
Employment at McElroy Metal
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