We're constantly describing our team at Schoolhouse as "small but mighty." We're quick, we're nimble and we're always looking out for number one - which is you, our lovely customer. As a lighting and lifestyle manufacturer, we have the ability to work factory direct, meaning we develop long-lasting relationships with professionals in the design and trade realm. If you're an architect, interior designer, contractor or builder, we have a special customer support team dedicated to your accounts. For the past three years, the man you see below has been carving out his role as the go-to guy for all things trade. His name is Josh and he is - you guessed it - our Schoolhouse Trade Manager.
Charming, hardworking and an all-around delight of a human being (ask anyone), Josh is always going above and beyond and pushing himself to deliver the best possible customer outcome on any given project. We love and appreciate him so much, we thought we would share a little bit about him with the world.
What does your role as a Trade Specialist at Schoolhouse entail?
“My job is to be a designated rep for any commercial, multi-family, or special project that comes through Schoolhouse. I usually work with electrical distributors, architects, and procurement companies, but I do occasionally get to work directly with the client. There’s a lot of work to do, and I find that my job touches every department at Schoolhouse in some way.”
Let’s start this off with you sharing a little background about yourself – Where are you from, what do you do for fun and a few of your favorite things?
“I was born in Hamilton, Ontario but have spent a majority of my life in the Portland area, with a few stints in places around the US and Canada. I try to keep fairly active, playing at least one sport at a time (right now, it’s ice hockey). A few of my favorite things: Most sports, movies, a well-made drink, getting the right answer on Jeopardy, Netflix shows, and live music.”
What secret (or not-so-secret) skills do you possess that you’re most proud of?
“I actually don’t have many secrets in general. One secret you wouldn’t know unless you’ve known me a while is that I used to be a lighting coordinator on indie films for a few years, which is how I transitioned into this job here. Working in indie film really helped me be creative in making lights for sets with limited parts, which has transitioned into a light crafting hobby at home.”
Give us a rundown of how a typical trade customer experience goes down. How does a project go from A to Z?
“Typically, our trade clients communicate with me from A to Z, but the level of communication all depends on the type of project, whether it be a bid, or a direct quote. There’s really no set way it’s going to work, but each has a similar frame work. If I had to simplify it for A to Z, it would go like this: Specification, Quote, Approvals, Purchase order, Order Placed, Order Update, Shipping, then closeout invoice. Each step has multiple layers to it, depending on the type of project.”
What are some favorite projects that you’ve worked on while at Schoolhouse?
“It’s hard to pick out one. One that has stood out, mainly due to the level of collaboration I’ve had with them, is WeWork. I love engaging with their team, from designers to merchandisers and each project they do is different. Locally, I love going into Tea Bar and Locale. Not only do they provide great drinks, but the spaces are really open and comfortable.”
What does a typical day look like for you?
“A typical day is fairly simple for me. I get to my desk, put my headphones on, and just hammer out emails and phone calls as much as I can. I find that one of the best things I can do for my customers is be as responsive as possible. The early morning and late afternoon are spent doing bids, quotes, and answering special project questions. The middle portion of my day is checking on orders, sending invoices, processing orders, and providing general help.”
What are some of your favorite Schoolhouse items, both from a personal and from a trade-specific point of view?
“It’s easy for me to start with Trade-specific items. Our lights are killer. The Cylinder, the Isaac collection, and Cullen pendant are typically my favorite ones to offer for commercial projects. They are easily supportable in large quantities, while still having the classic Schoolhouse look at an affordable price.”
What’s the best feedback or compliment you’ve ever received from a trade client?
“I’ve received a lot of great feedback over the years, but one thing that stuck was always respond. I don’t always have all the information, but I’m learning that the best thing I can do is respond and let my customer know that I’m looking into it. When I do respond, I want to respond with all the info I can, or the necessary questions to get the info I need. I’m not perfect, I still have a lot to work on, but I’ve found that quick, and thorough responses have facilitated some of the best interactions.”
And of course, what is your favorite part about being on team schoolhouse?
“The Schoolhouse Family is easily the best part of working here. Some of my peers are my closest friends, and everyone from the top down cares about the person next to them, and it shows. I’m grateful to Schoolhouse and Brian for all the opportunities I’ve been given, from being hired as a part time sales associate in the store in 2013, to now.”