My take away concept from a book published in 1996 by Hillary Rodham Clinton titled, “It Takes A Village,” is the effect collective collaboration has on raising a child. From my perspective as a new employee at American Christmas I see our company as this “village” and each of our client projects as our “child”. I can tell you from my experience, collaboration is engrained in the culture here.
This culture at American Christmas is refreshing. The difference at American Christmas, versus other workplaces I have experienced, is that each employee’s contribution to the collaborative process of each project (raising each “child”) matters. Everyone is helpful, everyone contributes and everyone cares about the result. It’s a culture whereby accomplishing amazing results isn’t an accident.
In my role as National Retail Sales Director, my primary goal is to secure new Retail clients. This involves reaching out to prospective clients by telephone and email, sending literature by mail, and following up to secure meetings. A meeting gives us the opportunity to begin a more personalized relationship as we listen to what the client’s ideas, budget and timeline may be, and as we discuss the unique heritage and capabilities of American Christmas along with a presentation of our portfolio.
After a client meeting I embark on a remarkably collaborative process at ACI whereby I become the Project Manager on behalf of the client. I collaborate with each of our internal teams and am involved in every detail of the project from start to finish. Our Creative Team begins the process by developing concepts and creating original renderings, the Purchasing Team sources materials needed to produce samples, the Production Team builds samples once the materials have been delivered, and our Chief Production Officer calculates pricing. We all work together to value engineer concepts and keep down costs while achieving the client’s goals. Now, take my efforts and multiply by 8 additional Sales Directors and Executives whom are also working simultaneously with internal teams and clients. That’s a lot of collaboration.
As Project Managers, the Sales Directors have the distinct privilege of presenting everyone’s work and on behalf of everyone behind the scenes at American Christmas we proudly present samples, renderings, proposals and pricing to clients. Along with client input, a project generally travels through a series of modifications before the final version is complete. Once the project is finalized and the client signs on the dotted line you can imagine the angels really do sing!!
As each of our client’s projects are meticulously produced, packaged and staged in our warehouse there is also hiring and training of over 125 seasonal staff who will install over 525 projects and ship décor to thousands of retail locations.
Being immersed in a culture of collective collaboration doesn’t mean that there are not passionate debates and disagreements. On the contrary, the respect that each person is given in their role reinforces collaboration and pulls the group closer together. At the end of each day when I turn off my computer and consider my day’s accomplishments, I like to remind myself how lucky I am to have the support of an entire village.