Not so long ago, Heather Richards-St. Clair headed off to the University of Central Missouri (UCM) with the dream of becoming a reporter and traveling the world. But when graduation came on the heels of a huge economic recession, she found herself following a different path.
Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she looked for what was available and was able to secure a position with a maintenance management company selling commercial janitorial and minimum maintenance service.
She discovered that studying journalism had actually prepared her for sales by teaching her the art of communication, how to conduct an interview, and how to get the most out a conversation when she had the opportunity.
While quoting a janitorial service opportunity for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts , she met the facilities maintenance manager, who told her about a company called P1 Group that was hiring some people for sales.
“Since I wasn’t super happy with my current situation, I went and interviewed and I’ve been working at P1 Group since 2012,” Heather said.
At that same time, P1 Group was opening up an office in St. Joe and, at 26 years old, Heather became the PM Sales Consultant for that branch.
It turns out Heather has a real knack for the work, and her sales performance steadily increased over the first five years.
In 2017 she broke the record for PM sales.
In 2018, she was promoted to General Manager of the St. Joseph Branch, much to her own surprise.
“It came out of left field. There were some transitions in progress. Smitty had started coming up to St. Joe quite a bit and he approached me with the opportunity,” she said.
“I remember exactly what he said: ‘You know the people and the customers, and you have the right attitude. I can teach you the rest’.”
In addition to Smitty, Heather says she owes a great deal of her indoctrination to Vice President Mitch Campbell.
“Mitch worked with me for months, teaching me the technical side of the business. He has a great demeanor and he is a great teacher. The time he invested in me has been invaluable,” she said.
“In Sales, I was spending my time developing solutions for an external customer,” Heather explained. “Now, I develop solutions for the internal customer and I like that. In addition to the learning the financial part, I am learning what makes everyone tick and how to keep the team engaged and moving in the same direction.”
She says she really does enjoys the operations side of our business as well.
“Now I am understanding how everything really works and how important the sales role is to the organization,” she said. “Seeing how all the little pieces of the business fit together has been my favorite part.”
While being a female in this roll can sometimes be a challenge, Heather says the greater challenge is being young.
“Because of my lack of experience, having the confidence in my ability to make tougher decisions and trusting myself in those decisions has been difficult.”
But Heather has been able to do it, thanks to the mentorship and support of her fellow P1 colleagues.
“Through the course of my life, I’ve always been lucky enough to have someone take me under their wing and show me the ropes and I have been able to run with it, Heather said. “Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to do that for someone else someday.”