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26. Work With A Sense Of Urgency. | Jen’s Message

Jen’s Message:

Have you ever been in a situation where you are the customer and have an issue with your order? You gather the details, take it to the proper person, and explain what is going on so they can help you. Everything that needs to happen to make this situation right is dependent upon the person you’re talking to. How would you want them to react? Do you want them to move slowly, or solve the problem with accuracy and speed? Whether this is the 10th issue that day or the first, you feel your issue is most important and requires immediate attention. 

Each of our customers deserves us to work with the same sense of urgency that we would expect if our roles were reversed. To our customers, their orders, questions, and/or issues are the most important ones and we must treat them that way. The more we practice this fundamental, the more our customers will come back to us because of how important we handled their situation.  This is crucial when forming relationships with our customers. It shows that we are willing to treat their emergencies as our own emergencies.

When practicing this fundamental, don’t forget about our internal customers as well. Our co-workers deserve this same level of urgency. Laura Burgess is a perfect example of someone who embodies this fundamental. She responds to every request and follows up to make sure everything gets taken care of. This is all done with speed, accuracy, and friendliness every single time.


Jen Heischman

Order Management Lead

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25. Be Relentless About Continuous Improvement. | Taylor’s Message

Taylor’s Message

When I think of continuous improvement, I think of the improvements recently completed at the CDC. We are constantly trying to achieve a level service that is beneficial to everybody who relies on the CDC functioning at its best.

One example of this fundamental in action is the new dock layout for our shipping/staging lanes. When the loading team was having issues loading trucks with speed and accuracy, everyone came together and developed a new approach for our dock layout. The dock now has numbered grids with bar codes within each lane to help our associates locate and verify the right product. This helps us load orders onto our trucks more accurately and efficiently.

While the lanes helped with accuracy, what truly has helped us with our goals of continuous improvement is the open line of communication that now exists between teams at the CDC. The associates picking and staging orders and associates that load product from the dock into the trucks give the other constructive feedback so they can improve their efficiency and accuracy.

The CDC team is being Relentless About Continuous Improvement!


Taylor Gascon

Warehouse/Famous Distribution Sebring

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24. Embrace Change. | John’s Message

John’s Message:

In life, change is inevitable. That makes change the only fact of life guaranteed to never change. And these days change happens at a faster rate than ever before. Resistance is futile, but how you respond to it is entirely up to you.

We are dealing with new products, new procedures, different personnel, a different time clock system, new health and safety regulations, and more. Let’s say these changes are a bucking bull.  Do you: (A) jump off and run away, (B) hold on and try to survive, or (C) grab the horns and steer. In other words, do you resist change, accept it, or lead it?

There are three basic ways to respond to change:

  • Fear/resistance — Allow change to control you and intimidate you.
  • Acceptance — Try to make the most of what’s happening by adapting what you do.
  • Leading — It starts with acceptance but evolves into determining the outcome of change.

How do we lead change?

Step 1—Recognize that change happens.

Once you can accept that “different” doesn’t always mean “worse,” you’re on the right track. The more quickly that realization happens, the easier it is to accept the challenges the future presents. Eventually, you’ll learn to savor the new opportunities.

Step 2—Empower others to help you lead change.

You’ve got friends and family in life and work. Use them. Just as a politician surrounds himself/herself with trusted advisers, you should find a close contingent of people with the willingness, expertise, leadership prowess, and credibility to help you enact change.

Step 3—Lead change based on vision, mission, and values.

If we don’t know where we’re going, how will we get there? To lead change, we need to know where we’re headed. This means understanding our values (the Famous Family and 40 Fundamentals), our vision (the desired end result), and our plan (the steps necessary to get there.)

Step 4—Establish urgency.

People need a compelling reason to change. Without urgency, great ideas sit idle for months or years. To create urgency, show others the vision of what change can do and outline the steps needed to make that change possible, necessary, and desirable.

Step 5—Move ahead, regardless.

You’re going to encounter some sticks-in-the-mud along the way, people unwilling to accept the inevitability of change. Your approach, to paraphrase Dory in Finding Nemo, is to “keep swimming.” Bring everyone along for the ride, but let them sit in the back seat at first. As change occurs, they might come around, but they will eventually remove themselves if they don’t like where the car is headed.

Step 6—Create a culture that embraces change.

Whether we’re talking about a small team of people, a business, or an entire organization, it’s important to actively seek change. Those who stand still get left behind. So in your department, branch, and region, make sure you’re seeking out ideas. A good reminder: there are no bad ideas. Nothing stifles innovation faster than a brainstorming session where participants feel uncomfortable.

Step 7—Learn new things.

There’s a reason they update the dictionary every year to add new words, such as “man cave,” “bucket list,” “mash-up.” The world is constantly changing. That’s why lifelong learning is such an important concept, and it’s the best way to embrace change at a personal level. The best leaders are the best educators. They seek out training opportunities for others, but they don’t stop there. They’re also responsible for seeing to their own continuing education to provide fresh perspectives and new insights.

John Mellor

Customer Service Manager/Youngstown Famous

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23. Think And Act Like An Owner. | John’s Message

John’s Message:

I can think of no better way to make work more meaningful and rewarding than to encourage all associates to “Think and Act Like an Owner”. How great of a company could we become if all associates would ask themselves “What would I do if it were my company? Or “What would I do if it were my money on the line?” before a decision was made? The great thing about this is that we are encouraged and empowered to do so! When associates are empowered to “Think and Act Like an Owner”, they become more engaged and productive. When these two things come together, enthusiasm thrives and business flourishes. After all, it is much more enjoyable to come to work knowing that you are empowered to make decisions as an owner would. This gives us a greater opportunity to create a memorable customer experience.

I started working at Famous almost 7 years ago. During my first week we had a situation with a new, relatively smaller customer that had purchased a hot water tank at the branch. Shortly after picking it up, he called from the jobsite saying he ordered the wrong one. This customer now wanted us to bring him the replacement and return the other one. I told him there would be a delivery charge of $35 for this since it was under our threshold of $350.00 for free delivery. During the conversation, I was fighting my instinct to deliver without the fee, but I wasn’t sure if it would be ok to go against the “policy” since I was new on the job. The customer got very angry and hung up on me. Tim Sloan happened to be in my branch that day and I told him what happened. Tim looked at me and said, “Now what do you think Marc Blaushild would do?” That was exactly the answer I was looking for. We immediately contacted the customer, then promptly delivered the tank to help the customer with his situation. The customer was very happy that day and has been loyal to Famous ever since. Tim’s answer that day, showed me this was exactly the company I was looking for. I was encouraged and empowered to “Think and Act Like an Owner”!


John Brock

Customer Service Manager / Famous Ashtabula

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22. “Bring It” Every Day. | Sam’s Message

Sam’s Message:

I’m going to start with some blunt honesty – I’m not a morning person! I barely cope with the English language in its simplest form before my first cup of coffee. When I come into the office at 8am every morning, I want to hit the ground running (even though I’m essentially a drone running on muscle memory). The world isn’t going to wait for me to wake up and get it together.

To help me “Bring It Every Day”, I make a to-do list of everything that needs to be accomplished tomorrow at the end of each work day. Then, I come in the next day, grab my coffee, and try to get through as much as I can by 10 AM. I challenge myself every day to see how much I can get done. Some days are leaner than others, but by 10 AM, I’m fully present and ready to tackle the rest of my responsibilities, and then some.

Someone who brings it every day is Kayli Bookman. It doesn’t matter what she has on her plate; she attacks it with a smile and a spring in her step, humming and singing the whole way. Jo Dangel from the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank said once, “Work will get done when it finds someone willing to do it,” and I remember that quote when I think about this week’s fundamental.

Our customers start their day early and their customers expect results. We have to “Bring It Everyday” to help them get their job done.

Sam Wysocki
Marketing Specialist

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21. Communicate To Be Understood. | Francisco’s Message

Francisco’s Message:

Communication is a fundamental that is essential to our day to day life. Whether it’s body language, verbal, or written, communication can strengthen or diminish our message. Therefore, Communicating To Be Understood, requires one to have a full understanding of their audience so the message is received.

Provide your audience with the necessary details that impact them. Do not overwhelm your audience with an excess of information. People can only interpret and process so much information at a time. Too much information can add confusion. This can result in repeated follow up after you have delivered your message. Take the time to practice a speech, proof read a document and seek out feedback from your peers to deliver an effective message with confidence.

Communication has many layers and requires a lot of practice unfortunately.  Establishing a rapport and genuine connection with your peers, direct reports, and customers helps tremendously.

I learned a valuable lesson on communication in one of my first leadership roles. It was the heart of the selling season at my previous employer and we had accumulated many broken or damaged bagged goods such as top soil, mulch, and cow manure. I took it upon myself to direct my team to “pull the broken bags and move them to a primary location for immediate sell through. Without following up with my team to clarify expectations and seek any feedback, I left for the day. The next morning, I received a welcoming message from my store manager, which was accompanied by beautiful photo of a 12-foot mountain of broken bags. To my complete displeasure, my team had followed the communication I had given to the letter. My lesson learned was use multiple types of communication to convey a message and always provide immediate follow up to clarify how your message was received.

Communication can be a strength or weakness depending on how it is delivered. Consistent and honest communication delivered in a kind and professional manner will garner the respect of one’s peers as well as one’s direct reports. A person that I feel strongly demonstrates this fundamental is Lisa Stacks. Despite her workload, Lisa takes the time to provide clear and concise direction and provides timely follow up to ensure her message was clearly received. Communicate To Be Understood is a fundamental that cannot be forgotten and will determine your ability to achieve long term success.


Francisco DelBosque

CSM/Famous Supply Columbus

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20. Be A Mentor. | Matt’s Message

Matt’s Message:
I have been fortunate enough to be with Famous for over 7 years. Looking back at my time here, one thing becomes obvious. If it was not for the continuous mentoring that I have received, I would not be where I am today.

The beginning of my career here had me pulling orders, learning to write orders inside, and working the counter with the crew at Cleveland West. Bob Russ is someone who took me under his wing. He not only made me feel welcome, but he and the rest of the team took the time to teach me every step of the way to ensure my, and Famous’, future success. After my time there I was on the road learning what to do and, sometimes more importantly, what not to do, with Joe Ruby, Mike Scott, and Sherri Foster. Once I was out calling on customers by myself, I ran into some roadblocks. Tom Krejci swooped in out of nowhere and helped me break through those obstacles. As I have continued with Famous, I have found opportunities to mentor others the way I have been since day one at Famous.

Growing up, my father instilled in me the idea of a successful mentor/mentee relationship. We rely on these relationships to help us grow and help others to reach their potential. Mentoring is not teaching someone else what to do. It’s a partnership between two individuals. When someone is giving of their time and talent, it’s your job to be respectful and receptive. No one can teach if no one is willing to learn. I encourage everyone, every day to not only be a mentor, but be a quality mentee as well.

Matt Penn
Outside Sales/Famous Bedford

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19. Create A Great Impression. | Kayli’s Message

Kayli’s Message:

Perception is everything. How you are perceived upon meeting someone for the first, or the 100th, time creates a feeling about you and what you represent in that person’s mind. Everything you do and say is a representation of you and organizations you’re involved with.

I was reminded of this recently. My parents are educators in the school district where I recently moved to. For the first time I was able to vote for my alumnus’ levy. While standing in line, someone approached me that I did not know. They asked if this happened all the time; that people know who I am, but I don’t know who they are. I answered, “Yes it does and I am always aware of how I conduct myself in the community because I know that I am representing my parents and am a reflection of them.”

I find myself forming opinions about organizations based on how their members act in my presence. One associate that comes to mind for being the best example of practicing this fundamental is Sheila Messner, our corporate receptionist. She always greets everyone who walks through our doors with a friendly smile, and a warm welcome. Sheila is often the first impression our associates, customers, vendors and guests have when they walk through our doors. She does a great job representing Famous and all of our 40 Fundamentals. I hope that everyone takes a minute to reflect on how your actions and attitude at work events, sales calls, counter days, etc. affect how our customers and vendors perceive Famous as a whole.


Kayli Bookman

Marketing Coordinator

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18. Be Positive. | Jim’s Message

Jim’s Message:

Your positive thinking, combined with your positive action, results in success.

Having positive actions, and reactions during each day takes effort. It is easier to do it with a group of people that have the same common purpose. It is also contagious, so keep it up!

The thinking part is the key to it all. We can choose our thoughts and let go of the negative ones. Henry Ford was quoted as saying, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the reason why so few people engage in it.”

A few people that deserve recognition for consistently being “positive” are Joe Arra, Michelle Morgan, Joe Hammer and John Mellor.

Like many others, I will remain a work in progress, but I am POSITIVE that it will end in success, just like it has for many others in our company. I am glad that we have a great group of personnel that think positive and take positive action each day.

Jim Hohman
Outside Sales/Famous Warren

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17. Deliver Results. | Tommy’s Message

Tommy’s Message:

Intentions can be dangerous. Intentions are those things that we mean to do. We can all have “good intentions,” but good intentions in themselves won’t complete a task.

This fundamental, in my mind, is very similar to the “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It” fundamental. We get positive results by seeing an opportunity, taking ownership, of it, solving the issue, and driving the project to completion. However, if we stopped at simply solving the problem, would we be delivering the desired results? Obviously not the kind of results our managers would like to see. Delivering results is all about execution! Without executing what we have prepared, we would never get the results we want.

Being that I’m a huge Browns fan, I’ll use them as my example. All offseason we’ve heard that they are preparing for a big year. They’ve set their goals high, they’ve acquired some incredible talent on offense and defense (sorry Steeler fans), and they have the drive and passion to be, in the words of Odell Beckham Jr, legendary! However, the one thing they have to do in order to deliver their desired result, of winning a Super Bowl, is to execute.

There are a few people at Famous who I’ve noticed really deliver results on a regular basis. One being Bruce Raff who is basically a jack of all trades and always does an excellent job helping out Marketing at our Expo’s. Additionally, is the entire IT team, who are always running around (sometimes literally) trying to fix our problems as quickly as possible.

Tommy Klayko
Marketing Specialist

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