By Bill Barnhart
Samuel Rodriguez squeezes the most out of life.
In addition to excelling as a Director of Operations for the Bridgeport branch of United Services of America, a division of AffinEco, the 60-year-old Danbury resident also juggles a fine woodworking business, six children and 12 grandchildren. For his efforts, he is being recognized as the AffinEco Spotlight Employee of the quarter.
Rodriguez is a bona fide American success story. He emigrated from his native Columbia to the U.S. in 1983, speaking no English. After putting himself through school to earn his Associates Degree in data processing, he went to work for IBM, then the Seagram (Liquor) Company. After 10 years at Seagram, the company closed its data center in White Plains. Rodriguez’s next step was United Services, where he just celebrated his 8-year-anniversary on September 14. Today Rodriguez oversees four teams servicing a wide swath of territory in Connecticut and New York while keeping his focus on customer service.
“Whether it’s a small client paying a few dollars or a big one paying lots of dollars, it’s the same good customer service for both,” Rodriguez said. “In every business, there are difficult times and easy times — the challenge is keeping everyone happy, your customers and your workers. This company is very customer-oriented; we try to please them as much as we can.
“I believe we’ve been doing a good job there. Our response time to problems is minutes. And we can solve whatever the problem is. We’re probably over 90% for customer satisfaction.”
Rodriguez knows his customers are happy because he spends significant time visiting the 15 buildings his crews maintain and rarely hears a complaint. His job also includes sales, setting up accounts, payroll and staffing needs.
One of his favorite days of the week is payday, when he picks up the payroll checks and distributes them to his route managers. “They love me on Thursdays,” Rodriguez chuckled.
One of the things he is most proud of during his tenure with United Services is the positive feedback he gets from his clients. His customers have actually been drumming up business because of the stellar job Rodriguez’s teams have been doing.
“The bosses are really grateful for the work we do.” he said. “They hear how the customers talk about us — it’s very rewarding. Probably 50% of our new business is recommended. People refer us because of the good work we do.”
Rodriguez talked about a big project his teams worked on in downtown Stamford, CT. His crews were so quick and thorough cleaning up a 218-unit construction site that when they were done, the owners of the business next door were so impressed that they signed up as a new United Services client.
“I am really happy with what I do,” Rodriguez said, and it shows in his work.
When he is not in the office, he spends much of his time in his garage workshop. He crafts beautiful wood cutting boards, selling them through his website, www.samuelwoodwork.com. He also designs and builds high-end wood furniture, all custom-made to the client’s specifications, yet another example of him doing a great job of pleasing the customer.
Rodriguez and his wife Dora live in Danbury. They have two boys, including one who is an assistant Attorney General for the state of New York. He also has four children from a previous marriage, and feels blessed to have 12 grandchildren.