A Great Bonding Opportunity
ROOM & BOARD
Room & Board, headquartered in Minneapolis, provides classic contemporary home furniture and accessories. The company works closely with American artisans, and 90 percent of the products the company sells are handcrafted in the United States. Room & Board has nearly 900 employees throughout their 14 stores and delivery centers in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; Orange County, California; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. The company also has distribution facilities in Minnesota and North Carolina. In 2014, the company’s sales revenue was about $370 million.
Room & Board has opportunities in its retail and delivery/distribution locations across the country as well as at its central campus in Minneapolis. Over the years, the company has been fortunate to hire several veterans for those positions – a number of them in leadership roles. Room & Board has found that the veterans they have hired are respectful and committed to the organization and its customers. They have a strong work ethic and exceptional integrity, and they enjoy working toward a common goal. They have a sense of team and camaraderie, which is a great fit for the company’s collaborative work environment.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | CHRIS JONES
Chris Jones, a former lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, joined the company in 2010 and now fills a combined role of inventory associate and returns associate at the California delivery center.
In the inventory associate role, he ensures the safe, accurate, and efficient handling and storage of all Room & Board products that arrive from the company’s distribution centers – from which they are delivered to customers. In the returns associate role, he manages all returned product in Southern California. He provides critical feedback about returned product to the stores, Room & Board’s central office, and its delivery teams.
Jones started as a delivery associate at Room & Board, a role he filled for his first three years. Two years into his role, he had the opportunity to train delivery associates at the company’s new location in Seattle.
“It was a lot of fun to meet new people and help them get going,” said Jones, who rode along with the new drivers, gave them tips and advice, and showed them the “Room & Board way” of doing things.
What he enjoys most about working at Room & Board are the floor changes, when the product on the company’s showroom floors is moved or replaced with new product at the beginning of the year. This annual activity involves almost everyone from the store and delivery center in that location. In Southern California, the delivery center supports two stores, so the floor change makes for a busy week.
“It’s a big, team-organized event,” he said. “It’s a high-pressure environment that is challenging and a lot of hard work. But it’s a great bonding opportunity for the group.”
His manager, Delivery Market Manager Ron Aviram, said that Jones is a model employee. “Chris Jones is a hardworking, team-oriented staff member whose commitment and dedication to the task at hand has clearly been shaped by his time in the service,” he said. “That commitment and dedication will certainly lead to continued success at Room & Board and to whatever goals Chris sets for his personal and professional life in the future.”
With his background in military combat training, Jones could have looked for civilian jobs in law enforcement or security. However, an injury that occurred during his military service did not allow for opportunities in these types of roles.
Jones encourages servicemembers to take advantage of education benefits while still in the military. “One thing I didn’t do, and saw a lot of people not doing, was get an education while in the military,” Jones said. “The government is paying for it. All you have to do is make the time for it. Being in the military puts you one step ahead. Having an education on top of that puts you two steps ahead. Having that education gives you a jump on it for when you do get out of the military.”
Saving money while in the military is also important. “Being in the military is often a person’s first real job or paycheck,” he said. “Being in the military, a lot is paid for, but we’re not always thinking about our future as much when we are in. It’s nice to get out and have a nest egg to get your life started, especially with all of the benefits available such as the GI Bill and VA loans.”
The organizational and team-building skills Jones learned in the military help him at Room & Board. “From the start of basic training until I got out, it was about teaching us to work as a team, think critically, analyze problems, and overcome them as a team,” he said. “I have no problems getting going, getting a team together, and taking command of a situation. Part of it is who I am, and part of it is what I learned.”
He credits his company with cultivating his leadership. “I’m almost my own boss most of the time,” he said. “The leadership gives me the freedom to make my own decision. I always know what needs to be done and am given tasks to complete, but they are not there holding my hand, telling me what to do. Being in the military definitely made me feel more empowered to get things done.”
He also developed a strong work ethic in the military. “There is one thing about the military: There is always something to do,” he said. “Even if there are no tasks to be done, there is something you could be doing. You pick that up in the military, and I don’t see a lot of civilians doing that. We want to do more than the bare minimum. We want to do something the entire time we’re here.”
The amount of freedom and empowerment employees receive at Room & Board has helped Jones grow. “There is an open door policy, you can talk to anyone, and everyone is always friendly,” he said. “Room & Board gives you freedom to do things your way and know you’re empowered to do them. You can show who you are and blossom into your true person. There isn’t someone always looking over your shoulder. Though you train for that in the military, you can’t always think critically.”
Jones suggests that servicemembers stay in as long as they can and get their 20-year retirement, so they have something to fall back on for the rest of their lives. He recommends that men and women in the military think long and hard about leaving.
“I think about that sometimes, now that I am 33,” said Jones. “I entered the military immediately after high school and I would’ve been out at 38 with a pension. We were always told, the longer you stay in, the harder it is to adjust to the civilian market. Especially once you complete two tours, you might as well do three more tours and get your pension. Everything in the military is so regimented, where in the civilian market it is much less so. There is an adjustment period there.”
Jones also suggests that servicemembers supplement their military training with civilian education. He advises military men and women to use the transitional programs available, from resume building to health insurance, so they know how to take care of things the military used to manage.
He also encourages veterans not to hide the fact that they served in the military. “Be yourself,” he said. “The military will have changed you for the better and that shows. When you walk through the door, people know you’ve been in the military. When I walked into Room & Board, I feel like before they looked at my resume they knew I was in the military.”