At American, we take pride in showcasing the family dynamics present in our corporate structure. One of such dynamics is sales team Mike and Katie Kahler. Read below to learn about their journey as father and daughter, inside and outside of the American walls.
What was your first job and how old were you?
Mike: My first job was a paper route and that was back in the day when kids delivered papers and collected for them in the evening. I was probably 14.
Katie: My first job was at Old Navy and I worked the fitting rooms and worked the cashier. I got really good at selling credit cards. I was 16.
Had you gotten the opportunity to work together before American?
Mike: We got to work together on projects when Katie was in high school but we never earned a paycheck together.
Katie: No we haven’t actually. I started my career in retail which is actually what my mom did as a living and once I was looking for new opportunities that’s when my dad brought up American.
What’s your favorite memory from Katie’s childhood?
Mike: My first memory is when she was born. She’s the oldest. When Katie was born, my life literally changed. That would have to be my fondest memory. We try to make a trend of family vacations and try to go to the beach. I would say my next fondest memory was our vacation in the Cayman islands and her reaction to the sting rays, we wouldn’t get to experience in the deserts of Arizona.
Katie: The vacations, and a different spin on it would be ever since I was a little kid, he prioritize that we would do a yearly vacation and I went out of the country for the first time at 5 years old. Being the oldest, my father would always take me out snorkeling and I have a lot of fond memories of seeing the big fish. I share the memories with my mom and grandma. I took that with me my whole life, the importance of family time, getting time away together. Also brought my love of travel and encouraged me to studied abroad.
When did you both start working at American?
Mike: I met Larry at the PPAI show in January of 2011 and I started in American 2-3 months after that. I had my 10 year anniversary in the spring.
Katie: I started in March of 2020, the day we went in to lockdown in Arizona! We came into the office and kind of talked about what was going on. Then our Governor had a press conference at lunch time and we decided we better go home for a while.
What are some of your favorite projects working together?
Mike: We really work side by side and don’t really work with the same customers. Katie has her own book of business. My favorite thing is to hear about her projects. I love to hear about her next big kitting job and see how she’s utilizing social media and her network there. She’s really networking her own personal brand. I’ve always marketed the company brand, but she’s taken hers to the next level. The new approach that he’s taking to getting her name out and building credibility to secure opportunities and closing them is really teaching an old dog new tricks. So I get to help her celebrate it and learn from her even though I’ve been in the industry since 1982.
Katie: I think the biggest one that comes to mind is the very first kit I ever did. I sold this idea and it was a way for them to reach out to their customers when they’re not having events. I sold the kit and asked my dad how to actually figure out who to lay out the box and all the different logistics that went into really setting up a great framework for future projects we worked on. I often ask him to look at things and run through them together. It’s really fun, exciting and helpful.
What is the easiest thing about working together:
Katie: Having a sounding board and having resources at American, but the biggest thing is being able to talk through an idea about who would you go to, have you ever gone through, etc. There’s no such thing as a stupid questions with him.
Mike: For me, the easiest is that we’re a lot alike in the way we approach people and opportunities in our daily business and that can be good or bad, because we don’t need a second opinion. We both agree. I might give Katie some advice and if it’s a good idea in her mind she executes it immediately.
What is the hardest part of working together:
Mike: I guess because currently Katie lives at home, we’ll be sitting at the dining table talking about work and our family will feel out of place, then we have to get back on track and change the conversation to include them. We haven’t gotten to any stumbling blocks yet that created a riff.
Katie: I try to have dates with my mom often because I see my dad every day.
What’s a fun fact about the two of you?
Mike: I guess mine is we try to be very active as a family, so a couple year ago we got the idea of hiking the grand canyon to the Colorado River and back out, and we decided to do that all in one day! So we went before hand and talked to the park rangers and they said, “Don’t do that!” But we decided to go ahead anyways. The four of us started at sun up and we hiked down the canyon and back up in the same day. The last mile or so was brutal to say the least, because you climbed up after we were tired. But what a feeling of accomplishment we had when we were done around 3:30 in the afternoon! We put that on our wall of memories.
Katie: I think my dad has helped me move 12 different times! Often I have to move the next week and he drops everything to fly to where I am. He flew to California to pack the U-Haul to Arizona. A great example of his work ethic and being an awesome dad.
Why do you recommend working with family?
Katie: I think I have actually been pleasantly surprised about working with family because in the corporate culture, that wasn’t allowed. But at American, it’s encouraged and supported. Working with the American team feels like working with family. I realized that when I was invited to summit and was with the company about 18 months. I hadn’t really met anybody but I walked into the very first event and both Larry and Justin knew me by name and gave me big bear hugs!
Mike: Katie said that very well. My thought is: when I came to American 10 years ago, I came with the guys in the Denver hub and we were a family within a family. When we started, the environment within American encouraged that and we got to add Katie to our work family. It’s an advantage because she’s my daughter, but also because work-family and family-family feel the same to me. People I’ve worked with for very long feel like my family and my wife has gotten to meet the people I work with at American. It sort of blurs the line. The approach we take is, if there’s s an issue, we talk through it before it becomes too big, and that’s just natural for us now.
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