Industry Profile: C3 Credit & Customer Service Manager Jessica Placek
16 Jun, 2011
Job Title: Credit and Customer Service Manager
Employer: C3 Worldwide; home of Capita Snowboards, Union Bindings and Coal Headwear
Years on snow: 10 non-commited, 2 committed
Days on snow: not enough, but I managed to get in around 20? last season
Currently Riding: 154 Capita Indoor Survival FK, Union Atlas Bindings, 32 Lashed boots, Bern Baker helmet and VZ Dojo goggles.
Currently I am: drinking coffee (shocker), sending out 11/12 order confirmations and trying to stay focused as it is actually sunny outside today here in Seattle!
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Jessica: I am 33 years young. I don’t feel or act my age….hence the word young instead of old. I am a mother to a pretty cool little guy named Kaleb (ok, so he isn’t little…he’s 11 and gaining height on me and he’s starting to like girls so I think I’ve got my work cut out for me). It would be pretty obvious for me to say I love snowboarding (which I do!) so a few other things I like to do are cooking (I really like trying new things), hiking (it’s fun to explore your surroundings even after living in the same place for all of your life) and my new found love of running (I have signed up for at least 1-2 races a month from March – Sept including a half marathon in June). I was born and raised in Washington and have no desire to live anywhere else, although I might argue that after two months of straight rain, but in all actuality there is no place I’d rather be. I am an only child and I come from a small family although my friends make my family feel rather large. All in all, life is good!
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Jessica: Well, I didn’t snowboard until I started working in the industry and really even at that time it was pretty half assed. I never made time to do it because I felt I never got better because I never made time to do it, and so the circle continued. About two years ago I met my boyfriend Lee who was very dedicated to snowboarding and he didn’t let me make excuses to not do it anymore. So out to the mountain I went with him, determined to become better at the sport that I have worked in and supported for the last decade. Well, the first day was like the last decade and it would have been easy to give up had I not had someone with me who wanted to show me that a) I could do it and b) I could have fun while doing it. As the season progressed, I got a lot better go figure, practice and time makes better? Here I was, I had never been very good at sports but after a few weeks I was getting better, and then even better…then I was actually getting good. So how did snowboarding change my life? Well it proved that I can succeed at things if I just take the time to and the mindset to make it happen.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Jessica: Funny story. I was in my 3rd year of college, working at a shoe store and was 4 months pregnant. Being on my feet all day wasn’t working for me. One of my friends had made a comment that they were looking for a receptionist where he worked (which was at Northwave NA). Work for a snowsports company? Cool! So I called and a week later was hired. Fast forward through having a baby and finishing college. I managed to work my way up to assisting the credit manager with some of her duties while still being a receptionist. From there, I went on to work in-house customer service for the SE, Midwest, New England and NW states and after that I still worked customer service but also continued to work with the credit manager on daily projects.
My role at Northwave kept evolving but after 6 years, I decided to try something “new”. I went on to be an asst and lead buyer at a Zumiez for 3 years. My hat’s off to buyers, it’s a hard job. I have to say, it just wasn’t for me. So I called up a few co-workers that I had worked with at Northwave (Johan, Gumby and Bruce) that had started a new company called C3 Worldwide to see if they had room for someone to help out with accounting or customer service. Aug 2008 I started at C3 helping out with accounting and eventually moved into the role of customer service and credit and that’s where I still am today. I loved working with Bruce, Johan, Gumby and George when I was at Northwave so it felt a little bit like “coming home” when I went to work for C3. I am a very lucky girl to be working with such great individuals here at C3 (suck up much?). So I would have to say that the relationships that I had made and maintained help me get to where I am at today, as well as my success at adapting to my role as it changes with the company that I am with.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Jessica: Working in the industry for the past 12 years has allowed me to develop relationships with a lot of accounts which are still going strong today. Great customer service is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a productive and professional business relationship. It helps knowing who your customers are, understanding their business as well as what is going on in the industry as a whole. So working in customer service has allowed me to build those professional traits and refine them so that I can stand behind my work and say that I am proud of what I do and have done. Also working directly with a credit manager helped allow me to learn and adapt to the aspects of that position. Being a credit manager and the tasks involved, btw, was clearly different than what I had learned in college. In college, you learn text….black and white….yes and no….a or b. In life, there is emotion involved and working in credit, you tend to see a lot of different situations that you can’t necessarily deal with in a boxed/rigid manner, sometimes it takes being creative, and that is something that you have to learn with through day to day interactions. At the end of the day, I want to help my company be successful as well as the companies and people we work with.
Shay: Tell us about your role at C3 and a description of the work you do?
Jessica: Well I have a title, but honestly we wear a lot of hats around here and do a lot of things that go beyond what our title specifies. I make coffee in the morning, or will do the dishes, sometimes I’ll go pack orders for customers or will file invoices. One of my favorite things to do is take a walk through the warehouse in the morning to see where we are at with our inventory, check on new product (when we get product in it feels like Christmas…no joke!).
As far as what my title includes, I’ll try to make this as least dry as I possible can. So as far as being a credit manager, I take on the “role” of being a bank/lender for our business. I set up new accounts that we distribute our product to, determine their payment terms for the goods that we sell to them, set up their credit limits and monitor payments. I also reconcile accounts, settle invoice/payment discrepancies and, unfortunately, sometimes have to deal with collections/legal remedies to secure payment on past due accounts. The customer service aspect includes placing account orders, sending out order confirmations, making sure placed orders ship correctly, resolve discrepancies, manage our open to sell lists for product reorders, and manage day to day customer interactions. Zzzzzz, did I put you to sleep yet? HA! Kidding. I love what I do. I also get to work with our company reps to make sure that they are all set with what they need to create success with their accounts whether it be sending them samples, catalogs, sales reports for their accounts or going over what we need to do at C3 to make getting product out to the customers as seamless as possible. I also process rep commissions so they get paid at the end of a hard day’s work and so they are nice to me.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Jessica: Honestly each day is different. Sometimes I spend all day working on shipping goods, managing what is going out to whom and how. Some days I spend time calling our reps or emailing them to see how things are going in their areas, seeing what is new and then will call accounts and see how they are doing and if they need anything. I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the industry. That way I feel like I can relate to everyday interactions, decisions, and reactions that much better. Not every day is perfect though…there are days where people aren’t 100% happy, where not everyone agrees on the same thing but those are the challenges that I appreciate.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Jessica: Wow, after 12 years I have quite a few: my first sales meeting was up in Whistler. It was called “the amazing sales race” or something of that sorts. We were put into teams and my first “task” with my team was everyone got a beer and (3) shots. You had to drink as fast as you could, but only one person could drink at a time. I threw up. I think I got some of our sales reps lost when I decided I was going to lead everyone back to the hotel. Funny thing is, that happened at SIA in Denver a few years ago and we ended up at Mile High stadium. Lesson? Don’t follow me when I have been drinking.
Another sales meeting I went to was in Punta de Mita, Mexico. Between the bus ride to Puerto Vallarta, Chris Englesman scaling a palm tree and me almost getting run over taking pictures of it, dancing on a bar, eating tacos roadside on the way back to the hotel and Johan slapping Rob McLennand in the cab ride back….those were some funny times. That was a fun trip. Rhode Island/EWSRA show, I think I got kicked out of a peeler bar there with Johan. I also got to experience what a NorEaster was and black ice. Eff, that hurt when I slipped on Pickle Dill’s driveway but I didn’t spill my coffee! I remember my first SIA in Vegas. I had to show the line for the first time because a rep called in “hungover”. A little scary as I was still finding my footing in the industry, a good memory at that. I remember going to breakfast with my SE crew wayyyyyy too early in the morning and then having to be at the booth a few hours later to set up. Transworld Award Ceremonies, seeing old friends and faces, checking out product that other vendors are putting out, seeing the reaction from accounts on the product that we are putting out, dinners, ….wow, SIA makes for a fun time. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard work though. Another memorable experience would be attending some of my credit association meetings. I’ve been to SC, AZ, FL, NV, VT and next month CA. I would never be able to travel this much if it wasn’t for what I do. It has provided me a lot of great opportunities to go to a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Jessica: Biggest challenge? I would say finding a balance between growing a business in a tough economy and maintaining tight distribution and MAP (minimum advertised pricing). Times are tough. It sucks to watch businesses that you have been dealing with for over a decade go out of business. This industry is small and it is hard to watch friends succumb to the economy. We need to work smarter to be successful. Once again, I think that is going to take some “thinking out of the box” and being creative because some of the problems that we are coming up against demand that.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Jessica: Experience hands down. Education gives fundamentals, a foundation for someone to build their skills on. I feel like experience gives the ability to adapt those skills and apply them personally to whatever it is that someone is doing. There are certain things that can’t be taught such as empathy, emotion, reasoning and intuition. A lot of those things are fine tuned through life experience.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Jessica: My advice? I think that having realistic expectations as to where you want to go and what you have to do to get there is really important. While it would be nice to walk into a job and get everything and anything you’ve ever wanted, more than likely you are going to have to take a few extra steps to get there. Sometimes you just have to pay your dues. Be persistent (squeaky wheel gets the grease?), be honest (duh!), have good work ethics (no….we don’t all sit around and watch snowboard videos all day and drink beer but sometimes it would be nice to) and have fun (that should go without saying)!
Find out more at: