At American, we love showcasing the amazing familial ties we have in our office and across different departments, but it’s not often we get to share the story of a family that’s had every member work for American! We are excited to introduce VP of Technology, Mike Pfeiffer, Web Application Support Specialist, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Help Desk Technician, Jacob Pfeiffer.
How did you meet?
Mike: Well, I was too stubborn to stop and ask for directions when my sister and I were headed to our parents 27th wedding anniversary, and we got stuck in an ice storm and had to spend the weekend at my sister’s dorm. Michelle was a dorm mate at my sister’s college at the time.
Michelle: Joanne’s brother got stranded at our apartment and everyone said, “you two seem to hit it off, and if you got married your name would be Michelle “Pfeiffer” and 6 months after that, we started dating, and six months after that, we got engaged! So, I met his family about 2 years before I met him because he was the big brother.
How long have you been married?
Mike: We got married in 1992.
Michelle: 29 Years!
Do you work on many projects together?
Jacob: Not so much with Michelle, but Mike is my director’s director, so I get to work on projects with Mike. We’ve been having weekly meetings to work on ending forwarded to outside emails. When working with sales reps, I always answer with my first name and eventually if I have to email them something, they say “are you Mike or Michelle’s son? I work with your mom; she fixes all my ACES sites!”
Mike: As Jake said, we are working on specific helpdesk cleanup, and I get a number of tickets that get forwarded to me, so I’ll send those to the helpdesk. Jake is one of the helpdesk people that picks those up. And I work with Michelle quite a bit on ACES so if there’s issues that come up or configurations, she gives me pulses on the ACES team so I can tell her where to go on a question when issues come up. We also get coffee breaks together and she gets access to the VP.
Michelle: A lot of times when I talk to sales reps, they’ll say “oh I talked to your son yesterday and he helped me with this.” I try not to call the helpdesk and try not to call Jake if I can help it.
What’s the hardest part about working with your family?
Mike: With Jake, it’s probably not being too hard on him because I know I can exert force and reach out to him. For example, we had a sales rep reach out at 6:00 pm and asked Jake to work on it but created a bunch of confusion by not respecting those family and work boundaries. We try to make sure we don’t get too consumed by issues that come up from working from home with Michelle. But when the days over, we try not to continue on working throughout the day, trying to make that distinction and that break.
Michelle: I would agree, trying to not let American take over our whole lives. Small town with a major employer, American is a big part of your life! But not letting work issues go after work hours is probably the hardest because it’s really easy to keep thinking about it.
Jacob: It’s a little interesting being that my dad is my boss’s boss. Because a meeting will come down from Mike and the other two helpdesk techs will email me and say, “oh no, what did we do!” One of the nice parts about working from home is that people can’t walk up to us and ask us to fix this, except for when you live with someone who jumps the ticket line. My favorite is when I tease her about jumping the ticket line, she sighs heavily until I ask her if something is wrong.
What’s the easiest part?
Mike: I don’t think there’s anything easy about working with family. Kidding! I think what makes it fun is making those connections and getting that extra time that you normally wouldn’t have. Like going on trips that she can come with and that’s work time we don’t normally have. And it’s rewarding to me to see Jake progress from entry level to where he is now. I get unique views on what he does from managers.
Michelle: They get it! I think being as connected as we are, if there’s something that you’re’ frustrated or happy about, if you take pride in something that went well, they get what you mean when you’re explaining something. They understand the business, the culture, AND the people.
Jacob: There’s that level of understanding each other that goes above a regular user. In the times they’ve asked me for helpdesk helps (and yes mike does every once in a while) and you just say, “go to the thing and do the thing” and YUP, they understand that. And coming to a new workplace is stressful and intimidating, but because I was familiar with American, and knew my parents were happy there, and I knew people there from going to events with them, I came in two or three steps ahead and didn’t have to figure out my dynamic with everyone. And I knew people’s names already! I felt closer to the ASB family.
Why do you recommend working with family?
Mike: It can be a double-edged sword. We happen to like each other quite a bit. But if you were in a situation where you had a potential family issue, it might be a challenge. It’s a lot like referrals. You refer them because you like them or want to work with them. And our daughter worked for American for 4 years and now works for NASA. All 4 of us have worked for American at some time and that’s unique to share that with family and coworkers.
Michelle: I don’t think it’s for everybody. You have to know your relationships and know that your relationship can handle it. Some people say, “I don’t know how you can work with your husband because I would need that time away”. For us, we don’t need that, and it works. There’s a lot of family connections at American so others feel they can make it work too. The communication level is just so much different with your family than with other people.
Jacob: You have a deeper understanding of where someone is coming from and know what somebody is about. You can’t know that any better than knowing it with family. You know work is stressful so you can be a little more lenient at home. We’re all in the same general department but not on the same team, and even when we work on the same team, we have our own stuff to do every day. If we had every single day where we were the only ones we to talk to, that would be different. But we have our own space, and that brings us all the positives.
To learn more about American Solutions for Business, visit http://www.americanbus.com.