For a modern woman, Holly Rox has some old-fashioned preferences. She likes paper documents more than digital ones, and when meeting someone for the first time, she’d rather that introduction be face-to-face.
That being said, Holly has spent her 14 years at SanMar adapting to changing processes, products and technology to become someone that many at SanMar depend on for both her knowledge and her good humor.
If you don’t work at SanMar, you might still recognize Holly from her many videos on SanMar U, or as the co-host of SanMar’s webcasts in her role as product trainer. What you might not know is that, prior to joining the SanMar team, Holly had nothing to do with apparel or training. She was travelling around the country as a recruiter for Egghead Software retail stores. (Yes, that Egghead.)
Her degree in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin came into play as a recruiter. “I had to understand the psychology of people and their tendencies,” she says. “Recruiting is a little like sales, but you also have to understand the personality of the business and whether the person you’re talking to is a fit for that. If they’re not, they’ll walk.”
Holly had never been a trainer before her time at SanMar, but she always wanted to be. “I love the thought of taking someone with no knowledge, then breaking down the barriers and starting to build,” she explains. “I get to see that growth from a scared and nervous newbie to someone who’s ready to say ‘I got this.’”
Holly’s first three weeks at SanMar were spent in training, and she still remembers that her trainer kept it lighthearted and fun. It was a lesson she took with her when, about six months later, she applied for an open trainer position and got the job. Her first few years in this new role established Holly as the “meeter and greeter” for new SanMar salespeople. She was often the person that new employees spent their first few days with, gaining deep SanMar product knowledge and technical know-how.
Over the years, Holly has learned a lot and has made some unforgettable memories. Some of her favorites were taking a full day at the SanMar warehouse in Preston, which at the time doubled as SanMar HQ. There, she and the newly-minted salesfolk would meet with SanMar leaders, get a full warehouse tour, and have lunch catered by local favorite Pasta Ya Gotcha. When the training team was smaller, shooting videos in downtown Issaquah with salespeople playing models for the day was just how it was done. Holly herself may never live down referring to “auto dealerships” as “otter dealerships” in a training video!
Apart from work, Holly carries on her family tradition of holiday decorations. Right now her apartment is fully decked out with pumpkins and fall leaves. After Halloween she transitions to a Thanksgiving theme, and after that it’s on to green and red and white for the holidays. “It’s something my mom has always done,” Holly says. “And now my girls do it too.” Holly’s two daughters, Sophie and Sydney, came home to help out with this year’s decorations. Sophie is a double-major senior at WSU with her sights set on a law degree, while Sydney works for CBRE, as a Project Coordinator on the Health and Safety team at Microsoft.
“When they leave home you’ve still got a lot of angst and worry about them,” Holly recalls. “Then eventually you realize you don’t have to worry. They’ve grown into adults.”
Last year, Holly’s own growth as a trainer was put to the test, when she was part of the team training every SanMar salesperson about our new enterprise management system, now affectionately known as ODY. “I had a lot of credit with the students because of my earlier experience with them,” she says.
Ever the old-fashioned kind of girl, Holly describes herself as resistant to change her habits, but her career is marked by adaptation and meeting the needs of the people she trains. “Sales is education,” she says. “We don’t really sell anything. We’re just here to help our customers support their customers.”
Over time Holly has had to learn new platforms and technology to adapt to an increasingly-mobile sales force. Whether she’s greeting new employees, training large remote groups virtually, or sharing her product knowledge in a webcast or a video, you can bet that Holly will bring her signature personality and sense of humor with her wherever she goes.