of the Month:
If you've come into Community Forklift this year, you've probably met Freddy, our Sales Manager. Even though he works very hard, he's always upbeat, making sure Forklift Fans and the Reuse Staff are happy. We are lucky to have him!
Ruthie M.: Freddy, how did a New Yorker like you end up in Maryland?
FH: Well, I was a driver for a long time. I started my driving career for Pepsi. I had a midtown Manhattan route in the heart of New York City. It was exciting for a young guy, and I did that for ten years.
But then I spent a weekend visiting a friend in Silver Spring, and I really liked it! I decided to move to Maryland, and began working as a salesman for Canada Dry.
RM: How did you become Sales Manager at the Forklift?
FH: After two years at Canada Dry, I became a driver supervisor, in charge of 45 drivers. But eventually, I decided it was time to try my own business. I started my own transportation company, doing airport and hotel pickups. I did that for two years, and it was fun, but the economy started tapering off.
I saw the ad on Craigslist for a truck driving position and sent in my resume. I actually thought I was coming to a forklift company. But when I saw the warehouse, and learned about the mission, I got excited!
I started driving the truck, picking up donations, and it was great to be here. We had some really powerful months, where we were working hard, and more and more donations were coming in. The organization was growing, and it was time to create a full-time sales manager position. I was recognized for my people skills, and was offered the job.
RM: What does the sales manager do?
FH: I overlook just about every part of the sales operations - customer service is one of the most important things. That means attending to the customer, whatever their needs may be. I try to be a friendly face, and make it a good experience for them.
Also I deal with staff issues, making sure everybody is communicating and keeping the morale up. I do the staff scheduling - which is about to get tough because we're extending our evening and weekend hours.
RM: What do you like most about working here?
FH: I like our family, our togetherness. We have a special group of people working here - not just anybody can do the job. The team we have is phenomenal and there's never a dull moment.
I enjoy the customer service, and the overall mission to recycle and reuse. I am proud that by keeping stuff out of the landfill, Community Forklift has created 15 green jobs. It's just fun, every day. I love my coworkers, and the customers are the best.
RM: What you like about the customers?
FH: I like the repeat customers, the ones who come in a few times a week. They really find good bargains, and it's fun to talk to them and become friends. I like making them happy, seeing them walk out with something they probably couldn't afford new. I know so many by first name, and they really like that. I just wish I could see all of their houses, what they do with what they buy!
RM: Tell us about your family.
FH: My mother was born in Puerto Rico, and came to New York when she was 6 years old. My dad was born in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and came here when he was 18 years old. He lived in Philadelphia, and then opened an automotive shop in Brooklyn. That's when they met and fell in love, and they had ten children.
When I moved to Maryland, I met my wife Tracy. She was raised in North Carolina, and she came to DC to study at Howard University. I've been married to her for eight years, and she is an amazing woman.
RM: What do you like to do outside of work?
FH: I love sports. I used to play a lot of basketball after work, but nowadays I enjoy spending time with my wife and my dog, and just working around the house. Anytime I'm not at work, that's family time.
RM: Favorite food?
FH: Good old burger and fries. But one of my favorite things that I don't get often enough is Spanish rice. When it's done right, you can eat a whole pot of it by itself.
RM: Thanks for the interview, Freddy, and thanks for everything you do around here!