By Vince Vitale:
Earlier this year, Startel held the 2022 Startel National Users Groups Conference, and it was an inspiring event. Users were able to network, share ideas, and learn new ways to increase revenue and efficiency on their Startel CMC software. The 2021 Don Berry Award was also presented and this year’s winner was: Ryan Chinoski of Rochester Telemessaging Center. We were able to interview Ryan and get a better idea of what it is like to run a family business with a winning tradition!
- How did you get your start in the industry?
“I guess you could say I was born into it. When my parents started the answering service, it was located in an old house. We lived upstairs and the business was downstairs. When I was younger, I worked for my parents doing odd jobs at the office. Even when I went away to college, I would come home over summer break and work at the office.”
- What is it like running a business as a family? Pros and Cons
“Family businesses are tricky! It takes a special kind of family to be able to work together. There’s no one you’d rather celebrate the victories with and no one you’d rather lean on during the defeats. However, family members need to be able to separate work from personal life. They need to be able to “shut it off” when you’re not in the office. The biggest problem I’ve seen with family businesses is when the family members disagree at work and carry those hard feelings home to holidays and gatherings.”
- Why is being bestowed the Don Berry Award meaningful to you?
“It’s a HUGE honor to receive the Don Berry Award. Don Berry was an innovator & leader in our industry. If you look at the list of individuals who’ve received this award in the past, you can see the caliber of talent & leadership we have in SNUG. I’m humbled to have even been considered for this prestigious award and privileged to accept it.“
Click below for a video interview of Ryan just moments after winning the award…
- What makes you so generous with your knowledge of the industry with potential competitors?
“This is a funny industry! No other industry is as giving as ours. Back in the day, your competitors were limited to your region. Now your competitors can literally be anywhere in the world. I can’t tell you how many times our company’s had an issue with our system and a fellow SNUG member helped us out with a spare part. I also can’t count how many times we’ve been delivering spare parts to other companies. Sharing spare parts, or knowledge is the easy part of this industry. Helping a competitor to run their business better raises the bar for all of us. There are plenty of customers to go around, so the smarter we all become the more profit we all make.”
- What do you think makes Rochester such a successful company that wins so many awards?
“My parents (Herb & Jan) set that in motion when they started RTC. Their ideals to always “exceed expectations”, “treat people how you want to be treated” & “work with integrity” are a few of the main keys. Our culture is the other major part of the equation. Our team focuses on being positive and professional. Winning awards is a great byproduct of these principles.”
- Describe your type of leadership? Who are your mentors and guides?
“I try to be a “lead by example” kind of person. My parents are my biggest mentors and I’ve been privileged to be able to learn from them for many years. I’ve also had the fortune to work on many Boards in our industry with some outstanding individuals. These are the people who donated their time to guide me and our groups as a whole.”
- Why is it important to find a user group when you run a company that uses a specific kind of software?
“Joining a user group (SNUG) when you get into this industry is one of the best things you can do! Why try to recreate the wheel when there are people out there that have already done that and are willing to help? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, networking with people in your user group is where it’s at! Going to conferences and learning your equipment is great. However, making friends in our industry you can rely on and gaining relationships with people you can bounce questions off of is worth its weight in gold.”
- When did you know that you would follow in your family’s footsteps?
“That was always the plan. I grew up around the family business, so I knew the industry and what was involved. However, my parents weren’t going to let me jump right in and start running their company. They were very wise and methodical about this decision. They offered me an opportunity and a path to succeed. If I wanted to take over the family business someday, I first had to go to college and graduate with a business degree. Next, I needed to go out and work in the “real world” for a few years. This was in hopes that I would learn things outside of our industry that I could bring to the company. It would also give me an opportunity to start from the bottom and learn what it’s like to be an employee before being a boss. After all of that, when I was still interested, I was invited back and offered a position at Rochester Telemessaging Center.”
- Tell us about who you are outside of the office? Hobby’s, Interests & Family…
“I’m very blessed to have a loving wife (Sarah) and two sons (Dylan & Pierce). We are a very active family and enjoy the outdoors. A few of our hobbies are skiing, rock climbing, and camping.”
- What advice do you have for the next generation of owners?
“LOL – Make sure you want to own a 24/7 business!!! This industry is great and I wouldn’t change anything. However, you need to understand that you are always open and always on call. Surround yourself with great people you can count on (like SNUG members) and you’ll go far.”
Startel is very grateful that Mr. Chinoski took the time to answer these questions. For more information on Rochester Telemessaging Center go to www.rtcenter.com!
Look for another feature piece coming up on Alan Hartmann, this year’s winner of the Allen Kalik Award!
If you know of an individual who would make a great feature, please don’t hesitate to write and let us know. Requests can be made to Vince Vitale, Startel Marketing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.