When he first joined his current company, Bronx, NY-based Garyline, in 1992, Rich Fatone worked with clients in Gary Plastic Packaging, the company’s packaging division. In 2000, the lifelong New Yorker moved over to the ASI division as an account manager, where customer service is the driving force of his daily responsibilities.
“He is the most valuable CSR we have,” says Rick LeDonne, national sales manager and Fatone’s supervisor. “He manages our top 15 accounts that make up about 18% of our total promotional sales.”
That’s a lot on one plate, but Fatone handles it one phone call at a time. That’s about 100 daily during the busy season. “Sometimes it’s hard when you finish a difficult call and then another comes in immediately after,” he says. “You just have to take a deep breath and start all over again.”
But after 16 years at Garyline, Fatone clearly knows how to roll with the punches. Sue Conroy, promotional products expert at Crestline, says, “He’s one person doing the job of three. And if he’s having a bad day, he hides it well!”
Every customer can expect the same great service from Fatone, which begins with his listening intently to their needs. “You gain ground that way,” he says. “I’m forthright and honest about our ability to meet expectations. The worst thing is to say yes and then not deliver. Sometimes we just can’t do it and I have to tell them that, but I always look for a replacement.”
Recently, his ability to come up with creative alternatives came in handy when a client was in a tight spot. They needed a three-color imprint on drinkware for an end-buyer’s trade show, and quickly. But the three colors incurred additional charges, as did the fast turnaround, and they were locked in to a certain price.
“Because we offered the drinkware in all three of their logo colors, I suggested an assortment with a one-color imprint instead,” says Fatone. “It met expectations and they were able to keep the cost down. It’s all about honesty, reality and following up on what we say we’ll do. If they can rely on us, they come back because they develop a strong bond of trust.”
Certainly, Conroy would agree. “I’ve worked with Rich for 10 years,” she says. “He’s one of the easiest vendor reps I’ve had the pleasure to work with. He knows his products inside and out and he’ll go out of his way to make sure the customer experience is smooth. If there’s an issue, he jumps right on it. There’s no run-around with him.”
His commitment to his customers is obvious amongst his Garyline colleagues as well. Says LeDonne: “Rich goes above and beyond the call of his responsibilities daily. He’s made special deliveries and has driven orders to customers to make sure they receive them. You can’t train someone in these things. We truly value his hard work and dedication.”