We caught up with Sarah Schoenwald, who has worked as an Office Administrator (OA) with Day Wireless Systems (DWS) for over twenty years, about the job, her history and work with DWS, and to show why this role is so critical for our organization.
Many offices have the role of Office Administrator, and they are all important people who keep up operations and support internal staff. At DWS, ours are a little different than most and provide an intense support to our work, technicians, and customers.
What is an OA and what do they do?
At DWS, Office Administrators typically work from one of our 27 service shops helping with all needed tasks, from answering phones to supporting our service techs. They are a key cog in ensuring our operation runs smoothly.
Some of the larger priorities of OAs include:
- Helping make sure techs have all the parts they need for the jobs they have
- Tracking equipment orders to make sure they arrive on time for installations (think Shop order tracking app, but in person for multiple projects)
- Communications: they are in constant contact with technicians and customers to make sure roadblocks are removed and work progresses as needed
- Billing: OAs communicate with customers to ensure invoices are received, correct, and paid
- Service contracts: these govern important ongoing needs of customers and OAs help make sure contracts are renewed, preventing gaps in coverage
- Working in partnership with the Service Manager (SM) for technician scheduling and dispatch
OAs might even need to contact a site owner to provide extermination or pest removal for snakes, spiders, or rodents so DWS techs can safely complete their work. Or, they might work as a liaison with equipment manufacturers like Motorola to enter important government or homeland security orders, helping ensure safety grants and contracts are fulfilled on time. The job includes a variety of tasks requiring many problem resolution skills, and is rarely boring!
Starting Out at DWS
Sarah Schoenwald was originally contacted by a neighbor who worked at the Moses Lake, Washington location, asking if she wanted a job. The original position was after hours on-call for an answering service owned by Valley Communications, later acquired by DWS. She was straight out of high school, graduating in June and starting work in September after meeting for an interview. The job included some work for the shop during the daytime hours, transitioning into answering after-hours calls for local businesses in the evenings. (The answering service is still owned by DWS and is now run by Central Station in Estacada.)
After four years in the on-call position, Schoenwald moved to the shop’s OA position, working alongside another employee to train and fulfill the job’s duties. From the start, Schoenwald was impressed by the family-run business and atmosphere, finding DWS a company that takes care of employees, allowing them to learn and grow, and who is fair and honest with staff and customers.
Important and Eventful
One evening ten or so years ago, one of the tower site crew was up on a local repeater site on a hill during winter. The crew member had gone down the back side of the site, encountered a locked gate, couldn’t get back up the hill, and couldn’t reach the Service Manager (SM). Schoenwald drove with her husband to the site to cut the lock and help the tech get off site. “He got me a Starbucks gift card for helping with that situation,” she noted. It was a thoughtful gesture, of course it could have been a life-saving rescue operation.
Although it’s impossible to recount all types of duties required and performed by an OA, this is a good example of one such scenario that requires expecting the unexpected.
In another, an emergency communications tower providing e911 services to Okanogan County, Washington was threatened by wildfire. If the tower went down, the community would have no means of communication for fires, evacuations, or other emergencies. Schoenwald worked diligently with DWS Rentals department to secure and provide a backup radio system with a large quantity of radios to ensure their emergency communications would not be compromised if the tower was engulfed by fire.
The OA Journey
After 26 years at DWS, Schoenwald doesn’t have any regrets. She loves the interaction with customers and coworkers, including the rapport with other OAs. Working with the team has been meaningful, not just her own service shop, but the broader team of folks across DWS. Regardless of the position, she feels a connection with everyone in the organization.
Since becoming an OA, she has been offered and has accepted increased opportunities, starting with Assistant Service Manager for the Moses Lake shop, then Senior OA, followed by Regional OA in 2020. Most recently, she has been offered the Service Manager position for Central Washington covering Moses Lake, Yakima and Wenatchee markets, a welcome transition she’s built towards through her career.
“I enjoy having responsibility, I want to solve problems, and everyone reaches out (to me) when they have a problem,” she remarked about her job history and its trajectory. “I like being able to help people. OAs help customers. SMs also help customers, but there is a lot more helping of employees, which I also enjoy.”
Although Schoenwald found the position of OA interesting and fulfilling, she moved to the service management side of the business. Like most positions at Day Wireless, with hard work, the opportunity to take on more responsibility or learn other facets of the business is available. Aside from the positions she’s held, including Sr OA and Regional OA, DWS OAs might also transition to working in Sales, or as a Project Manager who focuses on serving large clients and projects, as two examples. For someone who is motivated and wants to progress, there are lots of options at DWS.
What makes a good OA?
People who would excel as an OA are good with people. Introverts can do this job (Schoenwald describes herself as one, so it’s not a roadblock for success) but they must be able to work outside their comfort zone. Organization is also key, with so many details to keep on top of, a system for keeping track of it all is required.
Having good written and verbal communication skills will also really help someone in this position. Working with billing, keeping up with accounts receivable and/or using a system such as NetSuite is also a benefit.
Day Wireless Systems (DWS) is always looking for good people to join our team, and as with almost any role, the attitude and aptitude of employees matters more than experience. If the OA position sounds interesting, contact us – we have at least one important pair of shoes to fill.