Life At the Roost: A Balance of Work, Team, & Family in the Frederick Community

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Christmas Party
An Interview with Amy Permenter, Senior Client Success Representative

Carson: Fellow Roosters and other “avian-sapiens” in our flock… Here we are for another installment of our “Life at the Roost” audio blog series where we interview another RoosterBio employee and help bring their story to life.  Right now, I’m with Amy Permenter, Senior Client Success Representative. Welcome, Amy!  Thanks so much for joining us.

Permenter: Hi Jon, thanks for having me.

Carson: It’s a pleasure. Nice rainy day here in Maryland… It can’t decide whether it’s going to snow, sleet, or be sunny and 70°F. OK. Let’s kick this off. It’s early March, the weather’s kind of dodgy, and here we with our [ahem ] “cooped up” families—in the Greater Frederick, Maryland area—looking for a good way to spend a weekend.  Like many at RoosterBio, I’ve got school-age kids. What are things you might suggest if somehow one can clear a day free of those usual errands and scheduled activities?

Permenter: Well, it’s hard to believe I’d have a free weekend. I have two boys that play soccer and lacrosse travel teams. So, whenever we are free, it’s usually in the wintertime when it’s so cold outside that you want to hibernate. But if I can find a nice, warm day I would be out hiking, biking, running… We have so many beautiful trails—the Appalachian Trail, the C&O Canal—we would be enjoying it.  And then after we work and exercise hard, we’d probably have a nice ice cream at a local creamery. In Point of Rocks [Maryland], we have Rocky Point Creamery (which is amazing ice cream!). We have Middletown’s South Mountain Creamery. And then we also have one further north in Smithsburg called Misty Meadows. We’ll be probably having an ice cream afterward, a nice, good dessert! But also we have some great wineries and breweries out there. So we might even be stopping at a winery or brewery afterward so as just to enjoy a nice, beautiful day.

Carson: Ah, that sounds like fun! I’ve been on the C&O Canal, myself with a bike or just hiking. It’s possible to go for miles and see gorgeous, beautiful sights. I’m definitely going to be back soon, no doubt about it.

Permenter:  Yeah! You know this time of year, you’ve got the geese coming back into Maryland, and they’re lovely to watch on the Potomac.

Carson: Yeah. One sight I saw there… There was this sheer cliff face along the side of the Potomac, and there’d just been an ice storm. There were these 5-foot-tall icicles coming down [from the edge]. It was a very neat camera opportunity. On that note, Frederick County’s quality of life is something I can vouch for, a little farther up I-270, working, living or both. What are some things that are attractive to you about this region—I know you mentioned the trails and the outdoors—compared with your other work experiences?

Permenter: One of the things that I like about Frederick County/City is, it kind of has this small-town feel,  but we’re 45-minutes away from two major cities. We have DC to our south; we have Baltimore to our east. So it allows us to be close and personal with our neighbors and our friends, but also to enjoy the big city spots. In another couple of weeks, I’m going to go see Riverdance at the Kennedy Center. I’m so looking forward to it! I love going to the Kennedy Center. I get to go about once a year… COVID kind of took a dive on it but other than that, it’s a great place to live, great quality of life.

Carson: The Kennedy Center! That’s cool. [From our environs] you could go to the DC area or you could go anywhere in the other direction! You know, mountains, beaches, and of course DC. I remember I saw Hades Town, pretty recently, down there with my daughter, it was a great show!  So, I’ve noticed that—and this is something that I haven’t seen everywhere—each of RoosterBio’s team is highly dedicated and motivated and of course extremely hard-working. Yet we still manage a fulfilling work-life balance. Has that been true for you as well?

Permenter: Well, it’s hard to say during COVID. That “work-life” balance really got meshed together, especially with kids at home—and work being at home. They both kind of combined under one living space. But to answer your question directly, yes. I try to find a time to balance work and life. Really, there comes a time when you need to have time for yourself. You need to decompress; you need to process everything from the day that has gone on. Not in front of the TV, not in front of a computer, but being outside. Because I do live so close to Harper’s Ferry, I get to go out on a lot of trails and decompress and enjoy life. But again, I feel for a lot of people out there—i.e., working parents. The last few years have been a struggle for both kids and family—and single people as well. So I always recommend that work-life balance is very important, finding time for yourself is very important. Please do so!

Carson: I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s been [the pandemic] tough on everybody… some tougher than on others, really. I can’t imagine how hard it must be growing up now, as a kid.   Now for another tough question from a different angle. “Senior Client Success Representative.” That’s probably one of the coolest-sounding titles I’ve heard of in a long time. But what does it mean exactly? Can you please unpack how you combine clients, with what you define as success, with the institution you represent?

Permenter: Senior Client Success Representative…” What a mouth full, right?! It can be hard to fill in that title in these little blocks [e.g., for online forms], sometimes I have to abbreviate certain words in that title. “Client” is, you know, a fancier word for “customer.” Yet a customer is sometimes seen as a one-off transaction—but a client is someone you deal with the whole time from this working relationship with them. “Success.” I always love this word. I think it’s so much more positive than “support” or “service.” Back in the day, you had “Customer Support.” It’s kind of like where people came, they had their problems—but then we tweaked the term a little bit into “Customer Service.” Kind of like where you’re giving them a little bit more help. But it’s not as negative as “Support.” When it came to “Success,” it was surely a positive term. We want all our clients to be successful. It doesn’t matter what business—when your clients are successful, your business is successful! I think that’s really important. The way that our institution runs it is… we do understand that. RoosterBio comes up with solutions; we’re a “solution-focused company.” Because of that, it makes my job a little easier when I have customers who are always happy than the ones that need help or support. That’s what we’re trying to do—that we’re customer-focused, solution-focused. And our customers are a team, right? We consider them family. We truly, truly care about their successes.

Carson: Yeah. I love the way you put that. I could learn a lot from you. “Solutions-focused.” It seems like, as I crudely define it, a solution is when you combine products plus services, and we do both. When we bring it to that extra level, it’s a solution, and we’re all-in for our customers, and I just love that about us.

Permenter: One of the things we do here for our customers is this. Our customers will come with something that they see as a challenge or a niche that’s missing, and we’ll come up with a solution that’ll help them so they can move to their next level.

Carson: OK, so a lot of people rely on you here within RoosterBio as well, including yours truly! It’s as if you provide for a whole different set of “internal customers” as well. Not just the ones that we’re providing the solutions for. I see that you make it seem so easy, but I know that it’s not. What are some experiences from your past that helped you grow into such a high level of performance and professionalism?

Permenter: That’s a lot to take in. I’ve been around in the industry for a while, now, but one of the things that I’ve truly learned through decades is actually leaving my work experience and becoming a stay-at-home mom. It taught me the patience I need. It taught me that when people have problems, you need to help them! I actually got to work at a winery for a little bit, too, and from that experience, I learned to become really customer-focused. It’s easy when you’re serving wine to people, they’re usually pretty happy, most of the time! I also learned too, from there—that as customers—they’re paying for your service, and they want you to be that positivity, that glowing light, as well. There’s a lot of teamwork involved here [at RoosterBio]. I can tell you that everybody here is a team member, a team player; everybody here is so positive. It’s nice to be around people that are so thankful. The internal team, itself, is amazing and they all bring experiences to the table that we all share. And we laugh and enjoy with each other. It’s not only, me, my professionalism that I’ve learned to develop, but it’s the people around me. When you’re around others who are professional, it makes you want to be the best person you can be.

 Carson: Well said! Wow. I couldn’t have said it any better. Well, here’s something I will probably ask everyone. What was your “RoosterBio Journey” like? We all got here from somewhere else.  What caught your eye about this small but growing company around 2019-2020…

Permenter: I think it was June 2019; it goes by so fast… What caught me. Well, I was working in the government for the Army as a contractor. I was helping out in the lab and I was also supporting them by ordering for them and inventory—and the little checks and balances that need to be done. My contract was about ready to expire—so I had to make a decision. Was I going to stay, was I going to go? I just “randomly” applied for this job. An employee at that time, Tom Rogers, called me back and what he had to say was amazing. He said like, I look at you as my team member—he was going to be my boss—and he looked at me as an equal. And I really respected that of him. And then once I came over, I knew another person who actually worked here, who was also a very amazing person. It’s just, what caught me was the people. The people and the solutions. And just to let you know about [RBI Founder] Jon Rowley… He found a problem, he found a solution and wanted to make sure that it was accessible and solved for other biopharmaceutical companies, other cell therapy companies. He wanted this to be something that moved forward and would help other people as well.

Carson: Yes. One of the first things that I noticed from researching a little bit about RoosterBio—when I was looking for a couple of new opportunities—was that it’s definitely got “the mission” down. And when I spoke with some of the people during interviews, I realized that it also has the “the plan” down solidly, as well! It’s really together, we’re always moving ahead. I love that. OK [shifting gears]. If there’s any “typical” day in the Roost, can you help me understand what it’s like through Amy Permenter’s eyes and ears?

Permenter: Yes. I do a lot of answering customers, and that can be internally or externally. So I sit in front of a computer a lot during the day. Email is always at the top of the list of things I’m trying to get through—just in general—answer people what they need. But we also have people who call in—and then I obviously go down and talk with our supply chain to see what’s going out, how’s everything going? Are there any problems/solutions that we can figure out? So I internally talk with everyone to make sure we’re moving along.

Carson: Everybody knows you here! I’m not sure what our headcount is… You know it’s probably over 50 but… it’s a good number to have when [first] joining a company…

Permenter: So we have some job openings! Please go out to our Careers Page at RoosterBio.com. We have some Scientists positions… Again, Frederick’s a great place to come and live, if you’re not around here already. Please give us a look and think about us!

Carson: Excellent! Are there any questions you’d like me to ask you that I’ve forgotten about? I’m sure that there’s a lot [more] that we can talk about?

Permenter: Yeah, I know!

Carson: Alright. Here’s a surprise question for you. Naturally, the conversation turns to dogs. Are you a “dog person?”

Permenter: I am. I am a dog person. I grew up with dogs, pretty much my whole life. I actually really love dogs.

Carson: Yep. I haven’t grown up with them all my life, but I like dogs too. I’m liking them more and more as I get older. What’s your favorite breed of dog, if you’ve had experiences with different types.

Permenter: Growing up, we had a German Shepherd, and then a couple of Golden Retrievers—all very loyal and great dogs. My favorite dog was a white German Shepherd… I was working in college at a kennel, helping them out on weekends. And this kennel also took care of adoptable dogs. And I met this German Shepherd there, and I fell in love with her. So I was able to take her home, her name was Annie. Truly an amazing dog. I’d hike with her, I’d run with her. She would protect me. And since Annie’s passed away, now, I still have dreams about her… all the time. Right now I have a little Beagle, and I also have a 15-year old Australian Shepherd mix. But I have to say, I’ll truly be getting another white German Shepherd at some point! Just because of their loyalty. But except for the Golden Retrievers, they’ve all been mixed breeds of some kind.

Carson: Aw. That’s wonderful. The thing I like about dogs is that when you look at a dog and they look back at you. You see… someONE… looking back at you. You see… a spirit— a soul right there.

Permenter: I always feel like I didn’t choose Annie. Annie chose me. She saw me as someone she wanted to hang out with. But yeah, I’m always very thankful that dog came into my life.

Carson: OK. I think that’s probably a wrap for this interview. Thank you so very kindly for joining me, Amy. I really appreciate it.  Wishing everybody happiness and wellness until next time!

Permenter: Thank you!


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