How Operators Are Navigating The Current State Of Business: Jack Brown, Founder & CEO, ReFresh Facility Services

April 30, 2020
ReFresh Facility Services
Jack Brown (founder and CEO) and Victoria Brown (President)
Jack Brown (founder and CEO) and Victoria Brown (President)

At ReFresh Facility Services, founder and CEO Jack Brown has created a culture that encourages charitable and civic involvement from all team members. He says that these efforts to help build stronger, more vibrant communities in the company’s service territory of northwestern Indiana help keep them focused on the most important things in life.

The company has remained committed to these values throughout its more than 25 years in the convenience services industry. Its latest way of supporting the community is a program called ReFresh Cares.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for ReFresh Cares?

A: With almost 26 years of service [opened in 1994], we have learned two important things: Our employees are everything, and our customers are everything! I recently had a company-wide conference call with all employees explaining to them the concept of “the drama triangle.” The philosophy isn’t new, but it’s an important concept.

In any conflict, or crisis, there is conflict drama, also known as the drama triangle, including the victim, the villain and the hero. We encounter these three main types of characters and even view the world in their terms, especially during a crisis. Together, they form the drama triangle. Each of them plays a different role. The innocent victim comes with a belief in our innocence and feeling of powerlessness. The noble hero encompasses courage and action, selflessness and nobility. The hero ventures forth to do what must be done. Finally, the evil villain manipulates, controls or deprives the victim for their own ends.

I’m skipping most of the story, but the key is to escape the drama triangle by seeking resolution instead of victory. Although we love victory. At least, I do. We explore possibilities that allow both sides [in a conflict] to get what they need. Bottom line? It means telling them our story in a way that they will be able to hear it and listening to their story with curiosity.

So, I challenged my employees to see themselves as the victim, or the villain or the hero. Then I asked them for a paradigm shift: to change the way they think about something. I suggested to choose our customers as the hero and for us simply to be the guide. What or who is the guide? The guide is the trusted resource that helps the customer overcome their challenges.

We need to drop out of the drama triangle in this crisis [COVID-19] or any crisis we find ourselves in. We need to focus on being the trusted resource for our customers. The importance of being a guide is paramount. Not only does it help us better serve our customers, but it takes the focus off of ourselves and all of our problems.

In the same way, I want to be a guide for my employees. This is why we launched ReFresh Cares. First, we saw an opportunity to help our employees [be a guide] through the COVID-19 pandemic. We encouraged them, we had several conference calls each week and we opened ourselves up for Q&As often. We then created “Morale Bags,” filled with snacks, drinks and toilet paper, just to be an encouragement.

Then we developed our “Mask Replenishment Program,” with my wife making handmade, good quality masks and donating them to healthcare facilities, hospitals, EMS stations, police stations and sheriff’s departments.

Finally (at least for now), we made Morale Meals (for many of the same folks above) and began passing them out. We took a crisis and focused on helping others. We served as guides to help others with their problems.

That’s my advice: Get consumed with helping others. Look for opportunities to be a help or an encouragement to those around you. We’re all hurting. Sales are down. Times are tough; I get all that. But let’s focus on the community. Let’s focus on helping others who are in need — no doubt that are much worse off than we may be.

We opened our doors in June of 1994 — over 25 years ago. We’re still in business because for 25 years our mission has been to solve problems and build relationships. We’re focused on improving the culture in break rooms throughout northwest Indiana. But it all starts here at home. With me, our employees and the communities in which we serve.