A Chat with Arnie Zaslow, executive vice president, ATD American Co.
If you call our company, we have all the automated phone equipment, but you should only get voicemail when nobody is in the building, when we’re closed. We feel people want to talk with people. They don’t want to talk with a machine. That’s essentially what I feel sets us apart from many others out there.
CS: What do you do to keep things more fun?
AZ: I thought you’d never ask. We have an ERC, which is our Employees Recreation Committee. We have picnics, pizza days, dress-down days, pretzel days, water ice days in the hot summer months. We have two types of events. Some of them are free, because the ERC has different methods of fundraising. And those funds are used only for the benefit of our associates. These kinds of things build the solidarity among the staff. They care about each other. Unfortunately, but realistically, people will have a death in the family, or are sick enough to require medical attention, and I’ve seen our people take up collections. I can think of one case where they raised $3,000 that they just gave to an employee who had a medical problem. These are the kinds of things that people remember. The other day, we all got an e-mail from one of our people who just had a heart valve operation. It thanked everyone for their kindness following his operation. It was very heartwarming. That’s what really counts. You need to get people who care about the other people they work with. They’re more than just working associates. They’re friends. Sorry for being so verbose. My wife says I can’t say good morning in 75 words or less. I get very enthusiastic over our people. I don’t know too many other companies where the people there care so much about one another. Part of it is that today there are so many public companies in our business. And there’s a huge difference between a public company and a privately held company, especially a family company. We have a corporate family and a blood family. We have nine Zaslow family members working in the firm, and so far not one bum in the bunch. That’s a very nice feeling, to know that so many people recognize that the fact that someone’s name is Zaslow doesn’t give them special privileges beyond what anyone else has. Everyone has to swing their own weight. It’s as simple as that. We’ve been fortunate because when people look at each other as a family, they have more fun.