Job Offer — Opening Pandora’s Box

Mar 18th, 2014 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

Nick KemperWhen I first started at TPN, I was supposed to work alongside the person originally hired to do what I do now but he decided that there were other opportunities out there for him, so we only worked together for less than a month. Phones were answered by a worker at another facility, and I took care of internet orders and all other operational duties. After a couple of months, the worker at the other facility left and I decided at that time to take the phones myself.

A couple of years later, I took a breath and late one evening as I sat at my laptop doing market research on our biggest competitor (translation: snooping around their website) I came across a job listing for a product manager. Interesting, I thought. I thought maybe if I applied for the job, I might get to know someone there and I might learn something about their operation. So I did.

Within 24 hours, someone in the HR Department contacted me and we had an introductory discussion. They had heard of TowPartsNow (which made me feel a little better) and we talked about what I did at TPN, and she told me they were interested in talking to me in more detail and she would call me back.

She called me back a few days later and asked if my wife and I would be interested in flying back to their location for a series of interviews. Uh oh. Now I was in a quandary. I had opened the Pandora’s Box, and who knew what was going to fly out? What can you do when that happens but put yourself in a good vantage point? So a couple weeks later we boarded a plane and headed across the country.

We got in late at night and eventually secured a rental car. We followed the directions I’d been given to an inn near their facility. I couldn’t help noticing on the drive from the airport to the inn that we were traveling in kind of a loop, through some very scenic, wooded areas. They wanted us to see certain parts of the area (crafty). The room at the inn was wonderful. I think my wife ended up buying one of the mattress pads they had on the bed for our bed at home.

Our time there was brief, but nice. I interviewed with several members of their management staff, and I did learn a lot about their operation. I don’t think they were worried about sharing secrets — they weren’t doing anything particularly unique. At TPN, we didn’t have the resources to compete with them directly, but it helped to see where we needed to be. My wife and I had a wonderful dinner with the GM and his wife, and they even rescheduled our return flight so that we could drive to my favorite sports city and visit my favorite sports venue for the first time.

After that, they flew me out to the parent company’s headquarters for more interviews. This location wasn’t quite as scenic as the first, and the weather was in the single digits, so my wife stayed home. I learned even more in my time there and got to meet some interesting people whom I still touch base with from time to time.

The job offer finally came, and although I hadn’t expected it to lead to that when I first sent in the email inquiry that one late night, I had seen it coming as I moved through the process. I really didn’t want to leave TPN, but even more, I didn’t want to leave Oregon, which is where I’ve lived most of my life. We had three kids ages five-14, or something like that, and I didn’t want to uproot them. At one point, as I drove them to school one morning, I asked my daughter and my older son what they thought about moving, and I admit I was secretly hoping they’d resist and give us a reason to stay. My daughter, older, was cautiously supportive of moving. But my son was unhappy at the prospect. It helped me to see how we might all feel if we made the move. I finally let my bosses know what was going on, and I made the decision to stay at TPN.

Within a couple of years, the operation that I had visited first was no longer. The parent company had closed down that division and absorbed the company into their operation at the second, less scenic, facility I visited. Boy, was I glad then that I had made what seemed like a very conservative decision to stay where I was. Probably a lot of people were working at companies that were absorbed by parent companies, or worse, in that 2009-2011 time period. I either would have been far from “home,” without a job, or offered the opportunity to relocate again, to one of the middle states, possibly without my wife and family.

I’m a fairly logical person. I like to analyze numbers and data, and when I construct a strategy, I do it in a very methodical way. There’s something to be said, however, about letting emotions sometimes rule.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper

www.TowPartsNow.com