Meet the most cheerful people on the planet: Bekins’ Service Admin Team

Bekins Service Department

The team, from left to right: Annika Breimayer, Danielle Japenga, Johanna Bisard, Breanna Striker, Marley Langworthy, Angie Cumberworth, and Angela Ortquist.

Everyone here at Bekins works hard to give our customers an amazing experience. That’s just what we do. But there’s one department in particular that has their work cut out for them when it comes to making customers happy.

Our Service Admin Team is responsible for scheduling repair and service visits to our customers’ homes, as well as ordering the necessary parts. They field inquiries from customers who are having problems with their appliances for one reason or another, and they field requests from our Service Technicians when they need replacement parts to complete service jobs.

If that doesn’t sound too challenging, think again. Just about every single person who calls our Service Admin Department has reason to be unhappy about something. Customers who call to speak with our Service Admin team are unhappy because their appliances are either not working properly or not working at all. No one, even the most gracious person, is pleasant to talk to when their refrigerator has just stopped working.

Imagine answering calls all day from people who are calling you because they’re unhappy about something. Even for the most positive person, in a good work environment, all that negativity can wear on a person!

Despite the challenges they face, every member of the Service Admin team is friendly, positive, and a genuine pleasure to talk to – with each and every customer.

So just who are these talented people, and how do they stay so positive every day?

In a word: community.

I visited our Service Admin Department to learn more about what the team does every day, and to see if I could find out their “secret sauce”. I asked each team member the same three questions:

  1. What’s your role?
  2. What are your daily responsibilities?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your job?

They each, of course, had different answers to the first two questions. But their answers to the third question were all about the same.

Danielle is our Parts Coordinator. She orders parts for the service department, receives them, helps customers and our Sales Professionals determine what parts they need, restocks common parts, and a host of other duties. In Danielle’s words, “if it’s a part, it goes through me!”

Annika is also a Parts Coordinator, who takes on extra administrative roles, like maintaining our internal company newsletter, the BEAKON.

Angie, our Receptionist Operator, is the first person to answer the phone – on the first ring! The core of Angie’s job is to provide a positive experience and first impression.

Marley, our Service Scheduler, receives service calls, processes service order tickets, and calls customers who are on our service waitlist.

Johanna, our Customer Service Scheduler, plays the role of the team’s “all around problem solver”. If any part or service issue is out of the ordinary and requires investigation, Johanna is on the case.

Angela, our current Interim Service Director, despite having joined Bekins just 5 months ago, has thrown herself in head first into this evolving role. As she learns the ins and outs of the department, Angela helps the department take on new projects, and oversees smooth operations.

Breanna, Assistant Service Director, daily faces arguably the most challenging job in the department: working with the customer “hot” list. These are the customers whose cases have been heightened to highest priority due to unforeseen service problems. Breanna works with these customers and our technicians to resolve our most troublesome cases.

When asked their favorite part of working at Bekins, their answers all had a common theme:

“Working in the Service Department!”

“The togetherness of our team!”

“Working with everyone in the Service Department!”

“The environment – I love who I work with!”

“The atmosphere of the Service Admin team!”

“We’re definitely the most tight-knit group here,” said Breanna. “We’re here, on the phone with unhappy people all day, so we rely on each other to keep a very positive work environment. We work hard to have a lot of fun here, if that makes sense! That’s why we’re so close.”

Please give our Service Admin Department a round of applause. We appreciate them, and we hope you do too!

Community in Focus: Deb’s Visit to House of Hope Orphanage in Kenya

This is the first in our Community in Focus series, in which we will be exploring charitable organizations that do meaningful work. To kick the series off, we’re following Deb Boogaard, Director of IT here at Bekins, to her recent trip to the House of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. 

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Deb Boogaard, Bekins’ IT Director

Before joining the Bekins team, Deb Boogaard managed IT for an area youth camp. While she loved doing impactful work for the camp, it kept her from fulfilling a dream she’d had for some time: to join the mission team her church sent every other year to the House of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. The team always scheduled their trip in the summer time, which was peak season for the summer camp where Deb worked. She was never able to make it work – until she joined Bekins.

A former president of the Tri-Cities’ United Way, Bekins’ owner, Scott Bekins, has a heart for nonprofit work, too. Bekins has worked extensively with local charitable organizations over the years. Last year Scott launched an employee initiative offering to help cover his employee’s expenses and project costs for mission-related work. Deb was the first to take advantage of the program.

“I loved doing nonprofit work,” Deb says. “That was actually my one misgiving with joining Bekins, was that I hated to leave the nonprofit world. But Bekins is so involved with local charities that I know my work is doing something good, and they’ve really opened up what I can do on my own. Bekins made it possible for me to go on this trip, which I just think is awesome.”

To understand why this trip was important to Deb, and to learn more about the work Muskegon’s Journey Church was doing in Kenya, I sat down with Deb to talk about the trip. She had too many stories to share in one article, so here are just a few.

Q: Where did your team serve, and for how long?

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Children assemble at Melawa Primary School

A: The 16 of us from Journey Church traveled to the House of Hope Orphanage and Primary School in Naivasha, Kenya. The House of Hope is part of Heart of the Bride Ministries, a non-profit organization which helps provide for the needs of orphans around the world. The trip was 11 days total, which seems like a long time, but it flew by so fast!

Q: What did your team do while you were there?

A: The main project we helped with at the orphanage was the construction of three new classrooms for the school on site there. Until now, they have only been able to offer schooling for grades K-6. With the new buildings, they can now add 7th and 8th grade classrooms, and have an extra meeting space, which they need whenever they have visitors – like us.

Being able to add 7th and 8th grade is actually really important to the children in Kenya. There, kids have to apply and be accepted to attend high school, it’s not a given. So kids really need that middle school education in order to take the next step, and give themselves a shot at a better life. It was an important project, I think, because the need was clearly there. The lengths many kids and parents take to get their families a good education is incredible.

We also did a few other minor things, like bringing a new TV for one of the classrooms. At least, it seemed like a minor thing to us. The kids at the orphanage had apparently had been praying for a new TV for the past several months!

Q: Were there other things you brought with you to leave there?

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Schoolchildren play with their new toys.

A: We brought a bunch of toys for the kids – soccer balls and kites and games like that. The time we spent playing with the kids was the most fun!

But we also reserved some of the project money – the money each of our team members raised – to use on special projects and situations we might encounter. For example, we met a woman named Demarius in a rural village called Gatamaiyu who was raising seven grandchildren on her own, and had very little. Our project was able to fund a scholarship to send all seven of her grandkids to school for a year. It was a simple thing to do, but it made a big difference.

Six years ago, on one of our church’s past trips, the project funded building a home for Alice, a woman with nine children whose husband had been separated from her during civil unrest. Everyone assumed he was dead. Alice and her children were living in a tiny home, pieced together from plastic and scrap pieces of tin. When the team heard her story, they pooled their funds and built a simple block home for her and her children, and gave her a cow. Shortly after that, her husband Godfrey returned. When our team visited, they were living together in the same house with their children – the ones who hadn’t grown up. They were doing so well – and their cow was even pregnant! They’re one of our favorite families to check in on, whenever the team visits.

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Demarius and her grandchildren

Joel, who runs the orphanage with his wife Susan, spends a lot of his time exploring the community and talking to people, to find out who is in need, and how his community can help. He has quite the story of his own – he grew up there, in Kenya, with nothing, and he and his wife have always had a passion for taking care of people who are in need. Now they run this orphanage.

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?

A: Oh, we had so much fun with the Mommas – the four women who lived there at the school. We had a spa day with them, when we did mani-pedis and facials, and just hung out and let them have a day away. I had so much fun with those women – it was just a blast.

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Prudence poses for Deb

A favorite memory for me was spending time with Prudence, one of the younger girls at the orphanage with a lot of spunk. She was new there and still a little timid. She latched on to me the day we got there, and just kind of followed me around the entire time like my shadow. I just adored her.

Spending time with the people in Kenya was such an incredible, gratifying experience. They have so little, but they’re so warm and welcoming and offer you anything they do have.

Q: How did the trip change your perspective?

A: Just having this incredible sense of appreciation. To meet people who have little but are so gracious and joyful makes you rethink a lot of how we live life here in the States, how we take things for granted and how unappreciative we often are. But it mostly makes me wonder what more I could do – how I could make a difference to children in difficult situations.

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Deb takes a selfie with the kids

Q: Would you like to go back on another trip?

A: I feel torn about that. The experience was amazing, and completely changed my perspective, but I can’t help but wonder if it is a one-time experience, and it may be a greater thing to assist another person who would like to experience that. Going the first time created this awareness about my life here, that I never could have understood without being there. But I don’t have to go to Kenya to find people who need help. There are kids here in West Michigan who need support – maybe I should look at ways to get involved here.

I would tell anyone else who has the opportunity to go to an area in need, and to serve, to absolutely do it. What you realize is not only the opportunity to help those in need, but also personal growth and perspective.

Q: Is there a way for our local community to continue to support the orphanage?
A: Sure, you can give to Heart of the Bride, the organization that supports the orphanage. They support a number of other places around the world, but you can choose where to send your donation and how to use it.

by Marjorie Steele

As Bekins’ brand manager, Marjorie manages marketing, advertising and communications. A copywriter by trade since 2007, Marjorie blogs for GRBJ.com, is a citizen journalist for the Rapidian, and serves as a board member for the Grand Rapids Red Cross. She is also a yogi, an adjunct faculty at KCAD and lives with her daughter near downtown Grand Rapids.