A Conversation with Starlene Casey, Corporate Training Manager, Plumbing Distributors, Inc. (PDI)

Starlene Casey, Corporate Training Manager, Plumbing Distributors, Inc. (PDI)

How many locations does PDI have and what is your geographic territory?
6 branches with 96 employees covering northern and mid-Georgia.  PDI is the largest family owned independent plumbing distributor in Georgia.  

Tell us how you got involved with training at PDI.
PDI has always had training as a strategic goal, but 3 years ago the company decided to create the position of Corporate Trainer. I was excited to get the opportunity to take this position. My background working in inside sales with a competitor and my 18 years with the company in the showroom, as a branch manager and as a purchasing manager afforded me a lot of experience to bring to the position. In all these positions, we had always focused on training and it was a great opportunity to get to focus on training full time.  

Why is training important at PDI?
Customer service has been the main focus of PDI since the Mealor’s opened on July 1, 1973.  Our motto is “Rely on us” - our employees rely on us to get the training they need to satisfy our focus on customer service so our customers can “Rely on us.” Our training is focused on achieving this goal every day.  Because of our training, I have watched young people get hired on as drivers or office personnel and now they are department managers and sales people.  

Who at PDI receives training; is it a requirement?  
Everyone is offered the opportunity to take the ASA Education Foundation ProductPro courses.  75% of our employees that deal with customers and product have completed or are in the process of taking these courses. 
Training is a collaborative effort between our employees and their managers to help grow the employee towards a long term future at PDI.  All new hires go though a training checklist designed for their specific position in their first weeks on the job.   

What is the #1 benefit of training your employees?
Besides the benefit of making you better equipped to do your current job, it provides a stepping stone to the next level in the company. We always look within the company for talent when a position comes open.  

How do you know that your training program works?
The biggest reward I receive as Corporate Training Manager is to watch an employee develop from a good employee into a great employee. A great moment is when an employee comes to see how they can benefit from training after seeing what another employee has accomplished.
Employees want and need to see how they fit into the PDI picture. Part of PDI’s success has been our investment in training for our employees. Training magnifies the importance and value of individuals’ ideas and efforts.  

What ASA Education Foundation programs does PDI currently utilize and which is your favorite?
ProductPro courses, Customer Service, Essentials of Profitable inside Sales, Essentials of Profitable Wholesale Distribution and The Art of Supervising and Motivating People. We have developed a program around The Art of Supervising and Motivating People. We are constantly helping develop our people for their next phase at PDI. Our goal is to have people ready to step into any position that becomes open.  

What is your favorite business quote?
My favorite quote comes from our owner and founder, Gladston Mealor. He always says “Our people are our biggest asset; if we don’t invest in them we’re only hurting ourselves”.