Building integrity and trust has been an important part of Shannon Barcheski’s work experience. Courtesy Senior Helpers
Shannon Barcheski has a career that proves true the statement that it’s not always what you know. Sometimes it’s who you know.
Looking back on her career in sales, Barcheski — now general manager of the new in-home, non-medical senior citizens care provider Senior Helpers of Grand Rapids — says she’s where she is today because she understood the importance of making and keeping good connections.
“I think you build integrity in the positions you’re in with your current companies and maintain after the fact — not burning any bridges.
“You maintain those relationships, whether it’s as simple as going to lunch every now and again with someone, or sometimes it’s social media and just staying connected to where someone is — you get to know their families and their kids,” she said.
Barcheski grew up in Alpena in northeastern Michigan and graduated from Alpena High School. She originally planned to become an accountant but changed routes in college.
“I started at Baker College in Owosso for one year and then transferred to Davis College in Toledo, Ohio. I liked their program better for what I was transitioning into,” she said.
“I actually found that accounting was not exactly what I wanted to do, and I transitioned into interior design with a business minor.”
After receiving an associate degree in interior design in 1992, she started her first full-time job as a sales associate with Target Directories of Michigan in Manitou Beach.
True to her thesis about the importance of forming connections, she learned about the sales job “through a friend of a friend.”
Barcheski said the job helped her discover she had an interest in advertising and in marketing, in general. She loved being able to help businesses with their direct advertising and looking at how to impact the bigger picture. She also loved being out in the community, she said.
“I spent several years at that company. They were in the process of a buyout, as happens with many Yellow Pages companies. I believe they got bought out at that time by McLeod USA. McLeod USA came into the mix, and so did Yellow Book,” she said.
“And then I transitioned and moved to Grand Rapids (in the fall of 1994) and began at TDI Talking Phone Books, which again was with Yellow Pages. And they were (also eventually) bought out by McLeod and Yellow Book.”
When she was with TDI working in national and co-op advertising, the company itself was fairly large, andBarcheski said she and her colleagues became like a family. Those connections are still vital, she said.
“We did a lot of social things after work. From being in advertising, you have a lot of opportunity to go out and see and do a lot of things. So we would go out and caravan as a group. Some of my current friends are still from that timeframe,” she said.
“I think we just had a lot of the same interests. You spend a lot of time together. You work hard and then you go out to dinner and socialize afterwards. A lot of the same people I worked with, I have actually worked with in this capacity. A gentleman I worked with at TDI just helped me with an ad for (Senior Helpers) to make sure we were in the phone book.”
In November of 2000, Barcheski was introduced to radio advertising and took a job for a year at True North Radio Network in Alpena before moving back to Grand Rapids to start raising a family, she said.
Her children kept her busy for the next eight years, but even then she worked, starting her own company called Divine Chocolate Fountain.
“I did it for a couple of years … for weddings and parties. It was mostly on the weekends and was just a way to get out of the house and contribute to the family. And it was also my social time.”
In 2008, when her youngest child was in kindergarten, she went back into radio sales and served for two years as an account executive at Clear Channel Radio, now iHeart Media. But then in 2010, she had another baby and decided to take time off from work again.
This summer, she “threw it out to two former co-workers that she was ready to get back into the workforce.”
Once again, her connections came through. She learned about the Senior Helpers position because of a conversation, not because it came up in a job-site search.
Her friend Carmen Medina, an account executive at iHeart Media, felt Barcheski’s personality, compassion and love of networking would make her a perfect fit to work with seniors.
“I had reached out to former coworkers in my past marketing world and just learned about this (Senior Helpers) position from a former co-worker, and she felt it would be a good fit for me to investigate. It wound up being just a great niche and a great fit for both my talents and my interests,” Barcheski said.
“(Medina) had been prospecting for Senior Helpers and learned there was a Grand Rapids location opening. They were looking for a general manager.”
Senior Helpers, a franchise company headquartered in Baltimore, opened its first Grand Rapids location about a month ago. It provides professionally trained caregivers to care for seniors in their homes.
Barcheski has been in training for her position since June, driving to the Senior Helpers in Farmington Hills and working out of that office for about half the week to job shadow in every department, and then spending the other portion of the week setting up the office here. She also took a trip to the headquarters in Baltimore where she did further training.
The new Grand Rapids Senior Helpers office, located at 4081 Cascade Road SE, is about 1,800 square feet, with about 16 caregivers, she said.
“We provide companion and personal care to our senior community to help them maintain their independence as well as give the rest of the family some peace of mind that their loved one can function in their home in a safe manner,” Barcheski said.
“(We) build those relationships with referral sources, whether it’s doctors, therapists, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, or just anywhere where a target client hangs out, shops, etc., whether it be the actual senior itself or the children of the senior, and a lot of times it’s the children that are looking for help for mom or dad.”
Seniors and their loved ones need to be able to trust those who manage their care and offer support, Barcheski said. Trust is something she learned about through her years in sales and advertising.
“It’s a lot about integrity and being genuine in what you’re doing. The clients I developed relationships with, whether during (TDI) days or my radio advertising days, I built and maintained really good relationships. And a lot of clients I run into from the past … I still have relationships and friendships with even still to this day … that’s how I found this job,” she said.
“This kind of job, I can have longevity in — can make a real impact in. And I am very compassionate and love helping people. If this is something I can do on a daily basis to help families, that just really warms my heart.”