Doing The Little Things Right

Alex KennedyI’ve been working on and off at Red Ball Oxygen for half my life. I started at 12 years old painting cylinders and scraping labels at my father’s company. As soon as I was old enough, I started driving delivery trucks and working in the fill plants. After high school, I went to the University of Louisiana, but continued to spend my summers working at the shop. I graduated with a degree in history and a minor in business management then came back to work for Red Ball in outside sales. At 24 years old—after a year and a half learning the business—I was promoted to branch manager at our Shreveport location.

I currently manage about 30 employees, as well as our inventory and distribution at the branch. It’s my responsibility to make sure every employee is as good as they can be at their job. I’m in early every morning and here late at night learning about every employee’s position. This way, I know how people are doing their jobs, and I can find ways to help them improve efficiency. Many employees don’t understand everybody else’s job. It’s my duty to see the big picture and to convey it to everyone else. If we all understand how our specific roles fit into the big picture, we can improve efficiency and profitability.

My first month as branch manager resulted in the highest net income this branch has ever seen and the second highest sales. It comes down to doing the little things right. I want to ensure everyone is doing his or her job in the most efficient manner and I keep a close eye on our inventory. We recently started a project to put GPS in all of our delivery trucks to handle our dispatching and it’s saving us time and money.

As a young manager, it’s important for me to learn as much as I can about our company and the industry. While I’ve got a lot of experience, there is always more I would like to know. The best way to go about learning more is simply listening to the customer. The customer will be the first to tell you if you’ve done something wrong and what you can do to make it right.

It’s a very unique industry that we work in, and it requires me to be a jack of all trades. From beverage customers to hospitals to welders, we see all types of customers in and out of here, and I truly enjoy getting an opportunity to work with all of them and help fill their needs.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Alex Kennedy Meet the Author
Alex Kennedy is the branch manager of the Shreveport, LA, branch of Red Ball Oxygen. He started off two years ago in outside sales and is the third generation in the Kennedy family at Red Ball. Alex graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in history and a minor in business management.