On Wednesday, April 26, 2023
30 years ago, most communication took place over a landline or in person and documents were all hard copies. A receptionist was jotting down messages on pink pads, marketing efforts focused on mailers, presentations were placed in transparency film for the sales team to use with their projector they took on the road with them, the equipment on your desk was a typewriter (or word processor) and lots of paper and pens. Now, many of these typical items have been replaced with new technology.
In honor of National Administrative Professionals Day, AHT would like to highlight Janet Kern who has been with AHT since 1993. Janet Kern will be retiring May 25th, after almost 30 years of being the face and voice of AHT, as our Administrative Supervisor.
What has changed at AHT from what you remember 30 years ago?
The biggest thing that has changed is how large the company has grown from a single location with a few employees to now four locations with more than 165 employees. When I started, I was only the third person hired in the office. Now there is a lot more activity with the phones and more people to keep track of for milestone anniversaries and birthdays. We used a fax machine for a lot of communication since email wasn't around yet. Everything we did was hard copies and filed away because you never knew when you might need it again. This made it interesting finding enough storage space at times. When calls came through, we would ask who was calling and then announce the caller to whom they were contacting. Now we are able to put callers through right away. For the most part our phone answering system has stayed the same 30 years later. One uniqueness of AHT is, our owner, Gary Sharp's desire to have the phones answered by a live human friendly voice. Even with four locations, our phone systems connect to each location. All callers, whether they dial the phone number for our MidPort, Burton, Monroe or Cullman location get answered by the phone answerer who is logged in.
Watching AHT grow to what it is today, what do you feel are AHT's strengths?
100% the people! The people here truly care. When you have your core people that care as much as you do, it makes work a ton of fun. Even though we don't always see our co-workers from other locations every day, that same energy and customer service focus can be found at each location.
What have you enjoyed about your job?
I enjoy the many different teams I get to work on and things I help with. Seeing the different customers that have come through AHT's doors is incredible. All the employee milestones, whether birthdays or anniversaries and helping assist with those is something I enjoy being part of. Although you may handle things in a similar way each day, there are a lot of differences. I wouldn't stay at a job 30 years if it was the same tasks every day.
What are you most proud of during your tenure at AHT?
Having a very fulfilling position and never looked down as just a receptionist, instead I have felt like the mom of the group. I am proud of the relationships I've built, taking care of the front office, the people and our customers. I like taking care of other departments and helping where I can. I've been able to work in a position where I can be who I am and that's what I've always wanted to do.
If you had to write a book for all your experiences at AHT, what would it be about and the title?
Title: Going Through Life with my Friends and Family at AHT
I would want the book to be about work life balance, AHT families and my own family. I've had the opportunity to get to know and watch many of our 15+ Club members go through life while here at AHT. I can recall many of our employee's being young parents and their children calling to speak with mom or dad. Now, some of those children work or have worked here.
What does life look like after retirement?
Life after retirement will be a bit slower pace between spending time with family, my mom and being at the river. I am looking forward to having fun and being able to enjoy those weekend activities during the week and not just on the weekends.
A note from Gary Sharp, CEO & Founder
AHT was the very first place of employment when she decided to resume a career after being home and being a daycare provider. That's how we met Janet. She was providing childcare for our son, Alex. She had such an act of care in everything she did, that I knew she would be a great fit at AHT. In those days, AHT was still very young, I needed some help getting our company marketed, take care of the customers calling in, and just to keep me organized. Janet had completed her Admin degree and I recruited her to join us. Janet truly helped AHT grow to what it is today, by her kindness to her co-workers, customer service focus and the relationships she has built with our customers. Now, I am lucky enough to see her off into retirement 30 years later.
Enjoy your retirement and keep spreading that kindness, care and light wherever you go!
A note from Gayla Hoppenworth, Human Resources Manager
Janet turning in her key on her last day will hit home hard. What she brings to AHT is so much more than the virtues of the job itself. Besides being a friend to many, she has played such a huge part in AHT over the years. Her dependability, servant attitude, kindness, positive spirit, and overall value of treating everyone she meets like family is what makes her, and in turn, AHT so unique.
Janet and her husband have (3) adult children and (3) grandchildren. When she first started, one of her goals she jotted down in her profile announcement was to spend more time with her family and her children. Now Janet can enjoy even more family time along the Mighty Mississippi River.
Thank you for always exceeding everything you do with UltraGlowing results, congratulations on your retirement!