On the Job with Terri Stumpe

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

"On the Job with...." is a weekly Sunday Inc. series, spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today's interview is with Terri R. Stumpe, owner of The Royal Collection.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. All college students need to take advantage of the job fairs hosted by their college or college community. This puts prospective employers wanting to hire people, right in front of them. Your resume should show that you know what you want to do and what skills you have to do it. The most important qualification you have is experience, so find a way to volunteer or intern at something related to your passion.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. E-commerce or on-line shopping. Albany offers so many nice brick and mortar stores. Shopping online, you don't receive that personalized customer service that our locally owned stores are known for. Shopping locally, your money stays local. Local businesses provide jobs, contribute to the community and offer unique products and services. The retention and expansion of our local businesses will enhance Albany's economic future.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I really like my blackberry, but I use my computer more than anything else while I am working at the store. I use my blackberry more when I am away from the store.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. I read my Bible every day. I just finished two great books, "Today Matters" by John Maxwell and "Second Calling" by Dale Hanson Bourke.

Q. I'm up and going by?

A. I'm usually up by 7 to 7:30. I'm one of those people that have a hard time going to bed early. I get most of my reading, cleaning, etc. after everyone has gone to bed. This does make me slow in the mornings.

Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside work?

A. I love baking, cooking and gardening. My church family is very important to me and my family.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. That would be the decision to lease space for my business rather than buy my own building for my business.

Q. Best thing about your job.

A. I love getting up every morning knowing I am going to help someone that day. I love and appreciate my customers. I have been blessed with the best employees in town. We really have fun doing what we do.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The limitations we have to have when buying lines for the store. I have to stay focused on who my customer is. I learned a long time ago that we can't be everything

to everybody. We naturally want to help and please everyone that walks through

our front door.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. My marketing classes along with math and statistics courses have probably helped me the most in my business.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I want Paula Deen's job. Looks fun, doesn't it?

Q. Have you ever used an algebra formula or had to reference an important date from history in the course of your career?

A. I use algebra formulas all the time, especially in forecasting sales and preparing my buying plan.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. Enjoying Saturdays with my family. Saturdays have always been work days for me. Weekends will have a whole new meaning for me.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Integrity. Great business leaders model integrity through their honesty and by doing the right thing no matter what the circumstances are. We should demand this from our elected officials, too.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. Twenty-four months, but praying it will be sooner.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A.s Artists like Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp, David Crowder, Casting Crowns and Kari Jobe.

Q. .What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. My prayer is that Albany will be much closer to racial unity. We should all join together -- Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and other -- and make Albany a better place to live.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. In the summer of 2007, my daughter turned sweet 16. My daughter and I, my neighbor and her two girls, one of which also turned 16, flew to New York for several days and had a blast. That was my first trip to New York. Loved sharing that first with my daughter and special friends.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Over the past three, I have lost some very valuable vendors. The fashion industry has lost some icons, many due to the economic downturn. Some of the vendors, I have carried for years, like Austin Reed, Garfield & Marks, and most recent, Emily Ray Jewelry, just to name a few. It has been very hard to find replacements for some of these lines. We will continue to look for lines that will fill those voids.

A. After I graduated from Valdosta State, my father encouraged me to buy my first car. My sister and I shared a car at college, so it was time for me to have my own car. My first paycheck went towards my car note.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Staying positive. I try to be encouraging to my employees and show them that they are a very important part of my business. Incentives help, too.

Q. What was your first job?

A. Working part-time at my parents' clothing store in Camilla was my first job. I worked during holidays and summers.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. Twenty-four years ago, I was preparing to go to Atlanta to search for a job in the fashion industry. My Dad called me one day, out of the blue, and said there was a boutique listed in the paper for sale. He knew I wanted to own my own store one day. We checked into this and with a very minimal investment, bought the inventory and other assets of this fairly new store. I eventually changed the name of the store to The Royal Collection. Royal is my maiden name.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. My parents, both, are my role models. My father taught me the value of a dollar. He is a very smart businessman. My mother taught me to be a lady My parents raised me and my two brothers and two sisters to be honest and true. They taught us to treat people as you would want them to treat you. They also taught us to look people in the eye when you are talking to them, and to really listen when someone is talking to you.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. I learned that there are no real experts when it comes to managing the economy. When the economy turned so bad, it revealed all of our weaknesses. I had to learn very quickly to move faster with necessary changes in the market. This will forever influence the way I run my business. I will be much smarter about every aspect of running my business. Sometimes setbacks can only be understood in retrospect, when we see that without them, we couldn't have become the person we were meant to be.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology -- examples e-mail,