Acme Announces the 2022 Pinnacle Award Winner

Amazing! Acme Announces the 2022 Pinnacle Award Winner

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Phil Puccio

Julie Sowards, winner of Acme Brick's 2022 Pinnacle Award

When she showed up for work on her first day at Acme Brick, Little Julie Sowards knew her new job would become a 38-year ride to the top. However, that is exactly what has happened.

On March 1, 2022, CEO of Acme, Dennis Knautz announced the winner of an annual award for excellence – the Pinnacle Award. “With this award, we would like to honor an employee who has made a long-term commitment and contributed to the success of our company. Nobody embodies that more than Julie Sowards.”

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An amazing career

“I honestly never thought I’d enjoy a job this much,” Sowards said. “The professional rewards have been amazing and in many ways humbling. Every success I’ve had has been the result of hundreds of other people, my friends and colleagues at Acme Brick. They helped me and I tried to help them.”

In an overview of what Julie Sowards has achieved in her career 130 year old companyAcme Vice President of Human Resources Carol Kiburz said, “She started her career with us as a receptionist and administrative assistant for Dave Martin and John Harp.

“Julie’s passion and outstanding intellect enabled her to become a ‘Subject Matter Expert’ (SME) for the Middle East region (in Springfield, MO). She later took on the role of Head of SMEs for the entire company. In this role, she oversees the training and implementation of new policies for various departments and new hires, most recently the Smarter Commerce program (a new credit card processing system) and order entry and pricing analysis for the Midwest region.

Julie Sowards, winner of Acme Brick's 2022 Pinnacle Award

“Julie is the kind of employee who never says ‘no’ and is always there to help. She introduced new employees to their roles by personally going to their location. The list of her job responsibilities is virtually endless: payroll, order entry, credit, shipping, orders for non-bricks, allocation of manufactured bricks, SME duties, training, mentoring, supporting sales staff, office manager and administration.

“Your commitment to Acme is second to none,” concluded Kiburz. “Julie is truly one of Acme’s greatest assets. We are delighted that she received the Pinnacle Award 2022!”

embrace change

During her tenure at Acme Brick, Julie has seen many changes, and unlike many employees who are uncomfortable with an ever-expanding mix of products, management technologies, and customer expectations, she enjoys it.

“Our company’s SMEs are very welcoming of change,” she said. “It’s part of the job description. Our senior management makes decisions about additional products or new business technologies that will help our business grow, and it is our job to understand this thoroughly and then promote it in practice.

“Ultimately, the specialists in each of our offices ensure that this process works. Hopefully we are doing a good job mentoring our people and explaining new practices, but at the end of the day they bring their immense skills and dedication to get results.

“Almost every day something changes in our business. It’s this kind of challenge that motivates me to get up and go to work!”

The 2022 Pinnacle Award winner and 3-decade veteran was asked the obvious question: How has Acme Brick changed in the last 38 years?

“The biggest change is that we’re not just a brick company anymore,” said Julie. “The number and type of products we now offer span the breadth of the DIY category.

“This means our sales force needs to be trained to help customers understand the features and benefits of a much broader range of products – from flooring to outdoor entertainment devices to easy-care landscaping products. It also means that our accounting, marketing, supply chain management, credit processes and every other aspect of our business must be enhanced to exceed our customers’ expectations. It’s a big challenge, but these changes have made us a better company.”

There are hundreds of Acme employees, just like Julie Sowards, waiting to help you find the answers you need. Click here to speak to one.

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