Written by Chris Buchanan, Operations Wiseapple
Working without a title is the unfortunate condition of many mothers throughout the world, and while Amy Long has been helping the lifeblood pump through ORCHARD At The OFFICE since its inception, for several years this was a tertiary role. As a registered nurse and homeschooling mother of four, the sweat equity Amy was putting into the business would never have been visible to the customers. How would any office receiving fresh fruit in 2010 know that there was someone giving up their car every Monday to help serve the community?
“I had to have all the grocery shopping done Sunday afternoon,” Amy recalls, “which is especially challenging when you’ve got a house full of toddlers. We’d shuttle our vehicles back and forth between home and office and Monday mornings I’d be in the house, teaching the kids and fielding nursing calls, because I couldn’t go anywhere.” Those days, now fortunately long passed, represent a time when Amy and Kevin would manage ORCHARD At The OFFICE on their own. Kevin was handling the day-to-day operations, which gave Amy the unenviable position of managing “everything else”: the taxes, the legal forms, and most important, the working of a second job. Amy stayed on as a full-time registered nurse throughout the formative years of the business to ensure cash flow for the family…and, at times, the business.
“It’s what the wives of many entrepreneurs have to do,” Amy says, unpeeling one of the clementines she picked up from our production area. “It takes a long time for any business to reach its break-even point, and there needs to be someone generating revenue from an outside source for quite a while. But you don’t think of those as ‘hard times’. You think of them as the times, and when life changes, it’s on to the next set of circumstances.” In fact, when Amy left the nursing profession to take on a full-time role with ORCHARD At The OFFICE, it was less about financial freedom and more about helping the business sustain its growth. “We needed all the help we could get, and essentially, I’m free labor,” Amy points out. Doing so has provided a fresh set of challenges and an all-new learning curve to climb…but it’s brought a new perspective to the company and given all involved a new appreciation for each other’s strengths.
Decades of nursing informed Amy’s move into full-time fruit delivery leadership on all levels. One central tenet of the medical field involves documentation: “you have to think of everything you do as if you might have to explain yourself on the witness stand in three years.” Such an approach is invaluable to a small business, where so often, everyone just knows what they’re supposed to do…until expansion and/or turnover lead to knowledge gaps and costly mistakes. “If you document everything, you don’t have to rely on your own memory, or anyone else’s. It’s all available.”
More important, however, is Amy’s understanding of the medical necessity of healthy office snacks and maintaining a work/health balance. “This country is really in a crisis right now. Obesity levels are skyrocketing, and the damage of poor nutrition habits are taking a tremendous toll on people, physically, emotionally, and financially. And it’s especially challenging when there’s so much misinformation out there due to poor research.” If this reads as somewhat pessimistic, bear in mind this comes from someone with decades of firsthand observation of the effects of poor nutrition and exercise on members of our community.
But the optimism comes from the opportunity to improve lives, one office at a time. Amy’s marketing efforts are sincere as it’s much easier to promote a cause one truly believes in. “We want to make it as simple as possible for people to get healthy snacks delivered to their business. So with our website, we work hard to contribute to the customer’s online experience, rather than disrupt it.” And with the trademark focus on superior customer service and sourcing of premium-quality produce, ORCHARD At The OFFICE can deliver on the promise of “wellness delivered”. A company-wide satisfaction exists within the organization that can only stem from the certainty that the efforts of Amy and all the team members are truly making the community better…one banana at a time.
The “culture of wellness” makes for a jovial workplace environment at ORCHARD At The OFFICE as well. Staff morale is high and laughs can be heard even in the earliest of the Monday morning hours. “Our people are our priority,” Amy says. “We wouldn’t make serious decisions without consulting with them.” The combination of input and autonomy is clearly working: positions, when open, are rapidly filled and employees report high degrees of satisfaction with the workplace. “At its heart, this is a family business with a heart. And we want all our staff to know they’re part of the family too.”
Amy Long is the Chief Appleseed for ORCHARD At The OFFICE and can be contacted at 972.295.9091 or at [email protected].
If you’d like to get your work/health balance journey started with fresh fruit delivery, visit orchardattheoffice.com.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: It is customary, when creating a biography, to write in the third person – so much so that introducing myself in this narrative may seem presumptuous. I find it necessary, though, as putting together this article proved extraordinarily difficult. The reason is this: I want to make it clear that the subject is a not only a person of capability and professionalism, but she also happens to be one of my best friends – a sentiment shared by virtually everyone she’s ever met. Amy is a profoundly compassionate, generous person who can get a laugh out of anyone immediately, and it’s almost apt to describe her friends (myself included) as “fans”. So, understand that the sharp, dedicated professional I’m describing is more than a businesswoman. She is the type of person you would want to hang out with. Amy Long and her husband Kevin, through much more than ORCHARD At The OFFICE, are the kind of people making Dallas a great community.