If there's anything Kerry Ticen was born to do, it involves working at Purdue and providing customer service.
So it follows that Ticen, a Purdue graduate, describes his job as the customer service representative for Materials Management and Distribution in Service Enterprises as his dream occupation. Ticen, whose mother and grandfather retired from Purdue and whose father is a former employee, spends his days helping ensure the customers of University Stores, Materials Distribution Services and the University Warehouse and Surplus Store get exactly what they need when they need it.
What led you to take this position at Purdue?
I've been in this capacity at Purdue for a little more than five years. Prior to that, I worked in the former College of Consumer and Family Sciences, and before that I worked for the automaker Isuzu for 15 years, when they had an operation in Lafayette. There, I was the materials manager, and my whole career I've been involved in logistics and materials management. So to be involved in customer service here at Materials Management and Distribution is a perfect fit.
What do the stores and Warehouse and Surplus sell and to whom?
Right now, the stores are selling more than 2,400 individual items, ranging from flash drives to beakers to lab coats to enzymes for lab use. Our customers are just as varied; we sell items to faculty and staff through the campus community. We also distribute items to other satellite stores on campus.
There's also a statewide program we support called I-STEM, which stands for Indiana Science Technology Engineering and Math. It's funded through a grant from the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, and it involves public classrooms across the state using hands-on projects to teach kids about science. We provide and replenish the supplies in those kits and ship them out to the teachers who need them.
With Warehouse and Surplus, we sell items University departments declare as surplus to customers on and off campus. Some of the things we sell include furniture, fitness equipment, vehicles, computers -- even old planes. We post these items internally on our billboard, which you can find linked at www.purdue.edu/salvage. If no one on campus buys the items listed there, we'll sell them to the general public. The Warehouse and Surplus store is located near North Ninth Street and U.S. 52 in Lafayette. It's open from noon until 4 p.m. on weekdays.
What might a typical day be like for you?
In general, I spend a lot of time answering emails from customers on campus who have questions about a particular order or who are requesting certain supplies. I also get a lot of phone calls and emails from teachers across the state about the I-STEM program. I write our monthly, campuswide newsletter, which I use to help get the word out about our Materials Management and Distribution services, and I maintain three separate websites for University Stores, Materials Distribution Services, and the Warehouse and Surplus Store. Another aspect of my job involves supporting central receiving and distribution, which deals with campus mail, among other things.
The biggest thing I do overall involves addressing the vast array of diverse needs that are expressed via customer requests and orders. My number one goal is to make sure customers are taken care of -- I want everyone to always be 100 percent satisfied.
What other initiatives are ongoing in your area?
One of the things I'm very proud of is the fact that we are very environmentally friendly. We throw out nothing unnecessarily. For example, in surplus, if we have nonworking electronics not only do we recycle them whenever we can but we also cut off their cords and sell them to third-party recyclers. We recycle boxes and packing peanuts -- anything that can be recycled, we recycle it.
We have what I call our Pen Recycling Program, which allows anyone on campus to send unwanted writing utensils to MMDC to be recycled. We'll take any writing utensil -- from crayons to pencils and beyond -- and we'll sell them to a company that pays 2 cents per utensil. That money is then given to the Boiler Green Initiative, which advocates for sustainability on campus.
What exciting things will you be working on in the future?
I've very excited to say that this year I will be chairing Physical Facilities' United Way campaign. I'll be coordinating the campaign for all Physical Facilities employees, and I'll get to come up with all the special events and fundraisers to try to raise money. In turn, the United Way will use the money to fund its partner organizations, which help with things such as transitional housing, medical care for low-income residents and other important community services. It's a terrific cause, and I couldn't be happier to help.