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On the Job with Delyn Smith

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job with...." is a weekly Sunday Inc. series, spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today's interview is with Delyn Smith, owner and operator of downtown Albany's Subway.

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

A. Since most graduates don't have extensive work experience due to attending college full time unless internships were offered as part of the program, I feel it is important to have a great resume that reflects some of the key qualities the employer is looking for in your chosen profession. Always be willing to start at the entry level. Jobs are always changing and moving forward. Be willing to adapt. Change is not always bad.

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

A. I was 16 years old when I got my first job at the Burger King in Thomasville. I spent my first paycheck on the latest fashions and music.

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

A. Positive reinforcement, kindness and a genuine concern for them as people that do have lives outside the workplace.

Q. What was your first job?

A. The drive-thru operator at Burger King.

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

A. To own our business was my husband Richard's idea. I am just along for the ride.

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

A. Ron Barden was owner/operator of Burger King which was my first job. He taught all his employees extreme work ethics on working hard and never stopping. He demanded excellence and nothing less. If you could not provide that you simply didn't work there. he was the No. 1 franchisee during that time. Mr. Barden has since passed away, but there is hardly a day that passes that I don't apply the knowledge he instilled in me.

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

A. You must go the extra mile to insure your customers are satisfied and getting what they expect for their money.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. I do not like automated phone systems. I like speaking to a person. I usually do not have a generic question or concern so I don't want to hear a pre-recorded answer.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. My Blackberry phone and security camera system in my store. I am always in constant contact and have first hand knowledge what is happening in our business.

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

A. I wish I had more time to read a good book because I love to read. My reading consists mainly of the latest information pertaining to the business. Naturally, I always find time to read The Albany Herald.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. We get up at 3:30 a.m. and drink about six cups of coffee. We start running and don't stop until around 10 that night.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Our favorite outside activity is spending time with our two-year-old granddaughter Laila. She reminds us that life is not always so serious.

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

A. I don't think I would take back any decision. If it was a bad decision, it taught me something.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The customers. Every day is an adventure.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The stress of knowing this all lands solely on our shoulders.

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

A. Bookkeeping.

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

A. I would love to be a personal shopper, mainly shoes.

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

A. My wish is on the day of retirement to move straight to the mountains.

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

A. Knowledge about what is going on in your community.

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

A. I have no idea. It is all still a little too cloudy.

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

A. High-energy workout music.

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

A. I pray for more unity so the city can become a destination place.

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

A. My favorite vacation was when we took our daughter, Rikki, to Disney World for her third birthday. It truly was a magic place and magic time.

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

A. The trend towards a healthier lifestyle which means healthier eating habits.