This July marked the Duplicator Sales and Service’s working anniversary which celebrated 360 combined years of milestone tenures among 20 employees. The local office equipment supplier has changed immensely since its founding in 1959, but one thing hasn’t: its employees tend to stick around.
Above and beyond
This year, Sue Heil marked 30 years in the service department. “If anybody needs anything: safety pin, can of soup, something to eat from the refrigerator, baby-wipe to get off a stain, she always has it,” said Fran Cooper whose tenure beats Sue’s by five years.
Heil has been with the company long enough to recall stepping in on the switchboard at Duplicator Sales & Service’s original location on Bardstown Road when there were just three people in her department. Now she’s an assistant to the finance manager as well as being the preferred point of contact in the service department for many customers.
“I don’t believe in transferring calls. If it’s something I can figure out and tell the customer I’ll call them back, I do,” said Heil. “I don’t believe in passing the buck.”
“My best customers won’t call me; they’ll call Sue,” said John Ruffra whose been in sales with Duplicator Sales and Service for 33 years. He quoted a long-term customer as saying, “‘If I ever need anything done, I don’t call you. I call Sue and Sue takes care of everything.’”
Ruffra has been known to go above and beyond, too. About three years ago, he had planned on attending a Saturday Bellarmine basketball game when he got a call. The college uses a copy machine from Duplicator Sales and Service to print the basketball program, and the day’s games were already underway when they noticed they were out of toner.
Toner and supplies are kept behind a wall of wire mesh called “the cage,” which, over the weekend, was locked up, so Ruffra climbed up the wall and straddled the top to retrieve the needed toner. “It was wobbling. I was holding on. Finally, I was able to grab hold of something and get down there.” He made it in and out and down to the game with no time to spare.
“It’s good you didn’t fall. You’d have been sitting there for two days,” said Heil.
He came clean with management. “I’ve got a criminal record,” he joked. Since then,” he said, “they’ve built something stronger to keep me out.”
Ruffra recalls when he started. He was working for another outfit, selling a similar product. He knew Mike Nash, one of founder Harry M. Nash’s sons, because they were in competition. “He drove over [to where I was working] one day and picked me up and took me over there for an interview with his dad.”
Mike Nash had noticed Ruffra’s patience and listening skills, his ability to put customers at ease and let them explain what they need. “Our customers love our sales team,” said Heil.
“I was raised by Pat Nash,” said Heil. She credits him and his father, Harry M. Nash, with instilling a customer service ethic within her that has stood the test of time and even spans generations.
“I know how I feel when I call somebody and they say, ‘Well, that’s not my department.’” She wants to save customers the headache of being transferred multiple times when they call.
Heil’s son Jason works for the company, too, and was recognized in 2016 as an outstanding employee. “He’s an extremely valuable member of the service team,” said Ruffra. For trade-shows, technicians may be on-call over the weekend or any time of the day or night. To make that work, Heil says sometimes Jason will take his daughter along if she’s with him. “It’s a very family-oriented company.”
A team effort
It’s not only the senior staff who impart wisdom to the team. With the myriad of technological changes in the industry over the last 30 or so years, it’s the IT team who educates other team members about the company’s products. “They communicate so well,” said Ruffra who says customers love them no matter what level of technical proficiency they have.
Heil appreciates that she can have a question from a customer and get an instant answer from the IT team. “All of our technicians are so helpful,” she said.
There are many generations at Duplicator Sales and Service. Whether related by blood or through a shared history, the people of Duplicator Sales & Service are a team, each with valuable skills to share. They call each other a work-family. Neither Heil nor Ruffra see themselves retiring anytime soon, and it’s easy to see why. You can’t quit your family.