Country House, Bourbon, and Action Hero

Country House, Bourbon, and Action Hero

Listen to the Country House, Bourbon, and Action Hero episode at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts. 

The Candidate Experience Podcast is hosted by Chuck Solomon at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts. A transcription of this interview is available below.

Together with his guests, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies strengthen their candidate experience to improve their employer brand

Chuck Solomon:

Welcome to …. the Country House, Bourbon, and Action Hero episode, my guest  Stephanie Gibson, shares her insights into enhancing the candidate experience.

Pay special attention to what she shares about how her company, has created an internal team devoted to both customer experience and candidate experience. 

If you like what you hear on this podcast please subscribe and share with others. Want to comment, discuss, provide feedback you can send me a note via LinkedIn, or via the contact form on our site www. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview…

Chuck Solomon 0:00
Did you wake up, you know, one day and decide I want to be an HR manager? or How did you become to be an HR manager?

Stephanie Gibson 0:09
I actually, when I was studying in school, I had every intention of being a professor.

And so as that kind of explains my undergrad being International Studies, and in Spanish, I wanted to be a Spanish professor.

And then also a foreign service officer.

But while I was in school, I was progressing my way up the leadership chain in a retail optical company, and found myself as a general manager.

Like, almost immediately after I graduated, and show, what I really want loved about management was the the interactions of the relationships I built with the employees. And most specifically, with a training, performance management, employee development, my best days at work are the days that I was able to help somebody get to the next level, either performance wise, or through a promotion.

And I just, you know, I started to realize that, that dealing with the employees was was much more rewarding for me than the customers or the sales side.

So I started, you know, kind of looking back at my education and like, Well, you know, this really isn’t going to get me in HR. So

I decided to, I go through a graduate program with Villanova University for Human Resources Development. And then while I was in that program, I got my first HR role at a company that was like automotive manufacturing, kind of got my feet wet there, and then I moved on. After a year there, I got a job where I was actually started out as a generalist and then promoted six months later to be that was my first HR manager role.

Chuck Solomon 2:34
Gotcha. And you’re, you currently are an HR manager at J. Knipper and Company I don’t think probably very many of our listeners know what Knipper does. So.

It’s not it’s not a household name. But I think you guys do some important work and such, but can you tell us a little bit about what your company does?

Stephanie Gibson 2:57
Yeah. So Jane different company is bringing as healthcare marketing, and that is because we help with pharmaceutical drug samples, fulfillment services, and other, you know, the related literature or programs that might support of pharmaceutical sample distribution. And so that’s kind of like, big picture, what we do, there’s a lot of other great services that number offers to pharmaceutical clients. And then we also have a another branch,

which is our specialty pharmacy called Knipper RX. And that is a mail order specialty pharmacy, that dealing with you know, obviously specialty drugs.

But it’s, you know, getting into the the mail order side of pharmaceutical or pharmacy. So, you know, that’s a big growing industry. So not just samples,

Chuck Solomon 4:02
but actual. Online. Gotcha. Okay.

Stephanie Gibson 4:07
Yes. So, you know, drug samples, you would only send to a sales rep or a doctor, in order to deliver to a patient, they have to have a prescription in order to sell a prescription, you have to have a pharmacy.

That That wouldn’t be the progression they opening pharmacy.

Chuck Solomon 4:29
Yeah, I totally understand my, to my dad’s dismay, he’s a pharmacist. He always worked in, like, for years and years for the small independent pharmacies. And finally, one of those big behemoths bought up the independent stuff. But I can thank him for getting me through high school chemistry, because without him, I would not have gotten through it. So thanks, dad. Shout out to Dad!

Stephanie Gibson 4:58
Maybe the reason why I ended up in HR. Definitely not going to be

Chuck Solomon 5:09
chemistry, biology, medicine. Yeah. I gotcha. I’m, I’m with you on that one there. So I think the role that you do and the role that I do, I think has value to it. So we’re while we’re not saving lives, we’re still helping lives if you will. Oh, great. And you’re you’re in Louisville, and you have a big, big event happening this weekend. right to have the weekend. It’s the first Saturday of May, right.

Unknown Speaker 5:39
Baby, baby?

Chuck Solomon 5:40
Yeah. Any, any predictions?

Stephanie Gibson 5:46
I predict it’s going to be very congested downtown.

Chuck Solomon 5:53
Have you been you must have then

Stephanie Gibson 5:55
yes, yeah, I’ve gone in past years. Is is a, an event related to Derby. It’s called the oak. So I’ll actually be at the track for Oaks. I’m not doing Derby Day this year, but I’ll do oaks day tomorrow, then that’ll be fun. It’s always a good time. And it’s basically two weeks of parties and events preceding a two minute race.

Chuck Solomon 6:25
We, I mean, it’s I live in North Carolina, where horse racing isn’t a big thing. But we actually usually watch it every every day. And it’s the it’s the hype is like hasn’t started yet now has a star to get started. So do you have one of those big hats or

Stephanie Gibson 6:44
this is my first year I got a moderately sized cat, I can’t fake pet, I got a hat. I was just doing the fascinator in the like the head pieces at your ear, I’m getting a little bit festive.

Gotcha. Forget the chance to actually be at Churchill Downs for that particular race.

It the energy and the excitement of the crowd and everyone there and you know, they it’s this fantastic production, it’s a beautiful track.

I would recommend putting it on your bucket list.

Chuck Solomon 7:31
Gotcha. You forgot to mention the bourbon too. So

Stephanie Gibson 7:35
I know I’m bad Kentucky girl. It’s an effort for me to like drinks with bourbon. And

Chuck Solomon 7:45
Maybe I’ll edit that part out there. Otherwise, you might get excommunicated from your from your state there. So I’m a bourbon fan. And I you know, we were driving, we were right, rushing through Ohio on the way back to North Carolina on a summer trip. And we drove through and I said we’re not driving through the state of Kentucky stop somewhere. And we went to a small not like Maker’s Mark or anything was a really tiny place. And I forget the name of it. But we missed the tour by like 15 minutes. And we’re like, oh, we wanted to go on the tour. And the and the tour guide actually took us on our own little private tour and sampling and everything. We’re like, aren’t you supposed to be leaving? And he’s like, Don’t worry, I’ll spend 15 minutes with you. It’s all good. So I would definitely want to spend more time back at that place, if I can figure out the name of it. But

Stephanie Gibson 8:44
I’d have to say that the people at

places like that are easily, you know, an equal draw as

Unknown Speaker 8:54
the product they make sure it. Agreed.

Chuck Solomon 9:00
Agreed. So we have to move on to other pressing matters, because that’s why people listening. You have to stop talking about bourbon and horse races and talk about a little bit about the customer experience. Excuse me. Candidate experience. I misspoke. So can you share a bit about what Knipper’s doing well, or do you think they’re doing well, in terms of the whole experience?

Stephanie Gibson 9:28
Yes. So Knipper, I’m very proud to say has invested in an entire department that’s actually called the customer experience. And I think this is so important, especially for a company our size, we’re a family on business

is so important that we would make this kind of investment and it’s impressive. And it it makes me very, very proud of our leadership here. But the customer experience, is it department, it has a dotted line reporting to HR. And their mission is to review processes for the perceptions that our clients have about us. Sure. So a lot of it is, you know, is directed at external clients, but they are actually also responsible for things that impact internal customers. And they have a slogan called every action we take makes a difference. They have award called the Action Hero Award, you know, you’ve made someone’s day, especially a client or, you know,

people can be nominated to be action heroes.

But it’s great, they have owned employee engagement events, they’re going to be reviewing processes for the candidate experience. And it’s so important to keep the awareness on these things on how the perceptions we put out there, how we communicate with clients, how we communicate with anybody outside of the organization, but also not forgetting the people inside the organization. Sure. In fact, that’s very special.

Chuck Solomon 11:25

So it’s called, so you could win the Action Hero Award. That’s the that’s the award title.

Stephanie Gibson 11:36
Yeah, yeah, we have several different awards that are recognition base, that’s, that would be their primary

award for the customer experience will be the Action Hero Award, they also have a winning at Wow, award that they do that you can be written for? Well card, and then periodically, those called those cards, I’m sorry, are drawn. And you know, if your name is drawn, and you know, you you get awarded that way, for the running out while drawing.

But yeah, they’ve done a lot with

recognition. And also, they owned customer service week, together a great week, for our employees for customer service week.

Every detail and all the effort that’s put into engagement here at number, is it something that makes me really proud, and it makes me really proud to be on the end that helps to deliver on those things. Sure.

Chuck Solomon 12:49
So how, how is this Europe? You mentioned? You’re relatively small business, like how many people are part of this experience team doing to five? And this? Is this, like their sole responsibility? Or is this like a piece of their, their overall responsibilities?

Stephanie Gibson 13:11
That is their responsibility? That is that is the department? Wow.

Chuck Solomon 13:18
Yeah, there that I think that’s great, especially for how many? How many total employees? Do you have across all locations? Approximately?

Stephanie Gibson 13:29
Um, we have my understanding is we have because we have quite a few field employees that are more casual employees, they

they take jobs kind of as needed in the field? Sure, guys, I think it’s close to 2000.

Chuck Solomon 13:47
Wow. So 2000. And already, you have a department of three to five people that are dedicated to experience now. So there’s, they’re starting with customer experience, but it also applies to internal. And do you believe they’re going to be measuring or putting some measures in place for not only the, you know, customer experience, but also the candidate experience too?

Stephanie Gibson 14:16
Yes. Okay. You know, that that is how a big piece of how companies brand themselves as they get reputations, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s for? Everyone knows everyone, and it’s very common. You see it on the sample side, but you also see it on the pharmacy side, where, you know, every candidate that you talk to, it seems like somebody knows them already.

from somewhere, because it is, you know, sort of a nice sort of industry.

Chuck Solomon 14:55

Stephanie Gibson 14:56
small world, I mean, from your competitors, and that sort of thing.

Chuck Solomon 15:00
Sure. The Um, so I, I talked a lot about how, and I guess it applies to b2b companies. But I always usually stress with b2c companies. That, and you’re kind of a combination of both, I think, but I always stress that companies should really be looking at the candidate experience, and to spend some time in the sort of marketing and sales department or client support departments to see if they can sort of match and mirror apply things that work well, in the customer experience.

side of the business, and that I think, just because just because their unemployment is so low, and it’s been low for a while and continues to be low, and the economy is moving along well, that it’s getting even tougher, it’s already tough, but it’s getting even tougher to hire. And if you don’t have a top notch candidate experience that is more in line with, like a customer experience that we we all have come to know and like then I think you’re putting yourself at as an employer at a disadvantage, especially on the recruiting and retention and things.

Stephanie Gibson 16:20
Oh, yes, I would say that anyone who is in recruiting as a recruiter, or, you know, some some piece of talent acquisition, and if you haven’t already figured out, you’re in sales,

you better figure it out, you know, because the market is shifted quite a bit. You know, it wasn’t that many years ago that we can be very

Chuck Solomon 16:56
different elective selected.

Stephanie Gibson 17:00
It’s not just selected in, in choosing, but it was also we could behave differently as a company, who we called back who we didn’t, our responsiveness versus the candidates responsiveness, I think there was an expectation that candidates should be sending thank you letters, and, you know,


beating your door down to get a job. And it’s totally different. Now, it’s totally different. I, one of my, my pet peeves is, when this conversation goes to all with millennials, these millennials, they’re, you know, I get

because it’s not just millennials that you’ve hired, you know, you, you have to constantly be following up with your candidate. Because the company that’s being more responsive or actually more interested, is likely where they’re going to go.

Chuck Solomon 18:04
Sure. It’s, you know,

Stephanie Gibson 18:05
it’s not just about pay or benefits or sending them your information, I the link to your website so that they can research you, you know, you really have to put the work in to win them over.

Chuck Solomon 18:18
Right? I think I think you you hit the nail on the head responsiveness, I think is a is a big thing. I’ve had other guests come on board and and sort of talk about the fact that, you know, there’s, there’s some companies that just aren’t even there still can’t seem to close the loop on, you know, you might have 100 people apply only one person gets the job, or what do you do with the other 99. And just simply closing the loop and letting them know, thank you for applying. But we’ve selected someone else like that’s, I don’t work directly with a lot at SS. But that’s what I tell me that whatever ABS your using, probably has that feature in that to close up the job and said, No,

Stephanie Gibson 19:07
yeah, exactly. It’s a mass email. You know, and a lot of times ACS has the, you know, for instance, the one we use has

the ability to fill in the name and the job that it was in case they applied to more than one, it can be specific it was this role that, you know, we’re addressing here in this email.

It’s not It’s not difficult, it’s not difficult to do. And if it’s a candidate that, you know, was one of your finalists, I think that deserves a phone call. Agreed.

Chuck Solomon 19:40

Or at least at least a personalized email. So yeah, no, totally agree. So I mentioned this a minute ago, it’s getting this already tough, it’s getting even tougher.

How and how does Knipper compete? Or what makes Knipper special? You know, why? You know, why would someone you know, candidates have lots of options these days. But you know, why, you know, why would someone want to come and work at Knipper?

Stephanie Gibson 20:16
I think, you know, when candidates come in for the interview, I think one of the they always ask, you know, will, why do you like working at Knipper is

Chuck Solomon 20:28
asked you that?

Stephanie Gibson 20:30
Yeah, yeah, a lot of times, you know, at the end of the interview, say, or do you have any questions for us? And, you know, a lot of times they ask, like, Well, what do you like about here, because they’re usually asking a lot of questions, really trying to wrap their head around the business and where I am in, we’re physically located in Charlestown, Indiana.

There’s really not an competitor around here, that does what we do.

Instead, helping them understand exactly what we do. But they always ask, know, what do you like about working here? And my answer is always culture.

I think we’re doing it right, I think we’re doing it well.

Knipper is a family owned company, and they are putting effort into that piece.

Probably in the most impactful way that that I’ve really seen it done. It’s not just, you know,

we have our core values. It’s not just like, oh, here’s a presentation about our core values, or here’s this, this poster, in the break room, with our core values, you know, you can really feel it, and you can feel it the way, you know, we bring someone in and, and the way they’re greeted at the front desk, they get ushered in, and

you feel it in every, every part of it even in the interview, I think the managers, especially the ones I work with, they really are looking for character, you know,

I think, I think that’s a big win with us. And, and I think it’s proven in our numbers, you know, in at the time I’ve been here, I’ve been I’ll be here a year in June, I can count the number of people, we’ve lost full time employees, I can count those on one hand. You know, and that’s, that’s really rare for a company these days, especially in an industry, like distribution or warehousing where we have, you know,

pick pack operators, the forklift drivers, and a lot of these type of roles where they could be doing the same job at, you know, 20 other companies less than a mile from us, you know, but they’re saying here,

Chuck Solomon 23:12
wow, how many, how many employees at your location, approximately,

Stephanie Gibson 23:19
I’m including temporary employees, we have, usually between 80 and 90,

Chuck Solomon 23:23
maybe a 90, and you said one hand, so at the most five, so you have very, very low turnover. That’s, that’s great, especially with the, the a lot of these folks are hourly folks to or

with stiff competition and other places to go. I think that’s great. That that speaks to

the culture, I think that you’re trying to create there.

Stephanie Gibson 23:54
Yeah, I won’t give any of the big names in any press. Sure, they don’t either. But we have some pretty big names very, very close to our physical location. That, you know,

would, you know, would be very hard to compete with,

if we were any other any other company on the street.

Chuck Solomon 24:18
So you must be doing not one thing, right, but you’re doing several things. Right. So because considering I’m not sure what the retention rates are, especially with the types of roles that you hire for and stuff, but I would think you’re, you’re probably in the, in the top 10 or 20% of companies in terms of retention for that sort of class. So

Stephanie Gibson 24:42
yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, I’m from companies that have had, you know, fairly high turnover chain. And in when I was there, and I know that we compare ourselves to the industry, because it was a concerned, but we were, you know, pretty, pretty on track with competitors. And so I think the emphasis on retention wasn’t as high.

But I think here, even with it being so low, you know, it’s a big deal when someone leaves, you know, it’s, it’s not like, Oh, it’s okay, you know, our turnover still low. It’s, it’s a pretty serious thing, and I think people take employment decision very, very seriously.

Chuck Solomon 25:38

Thanks, Stephanie. I appreciate you sharing. If people wanted to get ahold of you or learn more about your company, how would they do that?

Stephanie Gibson 25:52
Yes, we have a website or If you’re interested in the pharmacueticals beside. They can find me on LinkedIn.

And yeah,

Chuck Solomon 26:08
perfect. I appreciate your time and insights today.

Chuck Solomon

If you like what you hearing on this podcast please subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts and do share with others. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview. 

Thanks for listening to the Candidate Experience Podcast. You can reach out to us via our website, That’s


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