Talking shop with Rob Stephens, marketing director at ServPro

Monday, August 22, 2011
Rob Stephens poses with the "green machine" outside of the Cape Girardeau ServPro office Thursday. (Laura Simon)

Rob Stephens, marketing director for ServPro of Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties, has seen more than a few messes in his day. Whether it's lipstick in a carpet, a flooded basement or a school's music room drenched after a storm blew off the roof, he helps coordinate the cleanup. Stephens not only serves ServPro's customers, he's a dedicated volunteer serving the community with his involvement in a number of local organizations from Rotary to the Red Cross and both local chambers of commerce.

Q: How did your career evolve to get you to what you're doing now?

A: I started my working life as a DJ on the radio. I left that to work for "the world's largest retailer" as a department manager, ran pizza restaurants and finally wound up running convenience stores for Rhodes 101 stops. It seems like there really isn't much of a thread between all of those jobs and ServPro, but when you really get down to it, all of those jobs come down to one basic concept: customer service. I really believe that customer service is the biggest reason people keep coming back to any business, and if you can't get that right, nothing else will ever matter to your customers. I genuinely loved working for Rhodes 101 Stops and believe that experience taught me more than any other job and helped prepare me for much of what I do now at ServPro.

Q: What are some of the more unusual messes ServPro has cleaned up?

A: Without getting too specific, the job most people don't think about much is death scene cleanup. For various reasons we get called to clean up those kinds of events surprisingly often. It's kind of a quiet part of our business, but it's also probably the part that has the most value when people need it.

Otherwise, we spend our days pulling college textbooks out of people's ductwork, cleaning lipstick out of carpets or even cleaning up fire extinguisher dust after a party got a little out of hand at 2 o'clock on a Saturday morning.

Q: Were you overwhelmed with calls this spring from flooding victims? How did you handle the increased demand?

A: Everybody was busy during that time. Fortunately, as part of a franchise system that is literally nationwide, we were able to call in ServPro offices from around Missouri and even other states. Several years ago we went to eastern Kentucky to help an office there during a similar situation, and they returned the favor during our storms. They were a tremendous help.

Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

A: Every day we get to help people through some kind of crisis. We help people go from "Oh, no! How will we get through this?" to "It was a terrible time, but we got through this OK with help from ServPro." I really do enjoy that part of the job. The other great part of my job is being heavily involved in our communities.

Q: You're involved with a number of community organizations. Why is it so important for you to be involved?

A: I am so blessed to have bosses who understand the true value of serving in our community. The key to that service, though, doesn't always lie in just being a member of a group or club. It's more about being involved and participating. If I can't be actively involved in an organization, usually because of other obligations, I probably won't even join. But, in addition to the good feeling we get from that service, we know that the more people get to know us and find us to be dependable in our personal interaction, they know that they can trust us for any other needs they might have. I'm president of Jackson Rotary and involved with United Way, American Red Cross Philanthropy Committee, March of Dimes, Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce Leadership Development and Ambassadors committees, Jackson Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee, Men's Fraternity, KRCU Development Committee and Community Advisement Board.

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working or volunteering?

A: I try to spend my free time with my wife and three daughters. There's always something happening. We've really tried to help our children see the value of serving others as well, and they are very heavily involved with a lot of service groups in the Jackson schools and at SEMO. Otherwise you might find me trying to find my golf ball at one of the local golf courses or in a Bible study group.

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