It’s another afternoon at Garber’s headquarters in Saginaw, Michigan.
The sounds of a solid work day echo through the air: people talking, typing, meeting, learning, completing, succeeding.
Alyssa Arroyo — bankruptcy specialist at Gateway Financial Solutions upstairs — is downstairs in the break room.
With her cell phone in hand, she heads to Dick Garber’s nearby office to say hi. As she turns the corner, Mr. Garber sees Alyssa.
He knows what’s coming next.
“Laura!” Mr. Garber jokingly calls to Laura Biggins, executive assistant, who sits in the office next door. “Laura! Help me!” Laura laughs. Alyssa walks into his office, smiling.
Mr. Garber is all smiles too, of course. This scenario has played out enough by now. He understands the assignment: It’s time to dance.
Time and time again, Alyssa has successfully convinced Mr. Garber to bust out some dance moves on camera. Alyssa’s tools of the trade? Social media savviness, a solid soundtrack, and a knack for persuasion.
With songs from Will Smith and Ice Cube and everything in between, the pair have become quite the dancing duo. It’s an ergonomics break, if you will…all in the name of fun.
The videos have gained notoriety on Alyssa’s social media, racking up comments packed with amusement and awe.
“We’re famous now,” Alyssa laughed. “I get song requests on Facebook from people who want us to dance to certain songs.”
But Alyssa is more than the person who’s got a knack for social media and convincing our company’s owner to bust a move or two.
She’s a dedicated Gateway team member, a hard worker, and a committed employee who now considers herself a company “lifer.”
@alyssaannmariee Shout out to my work dad. He’s seriously the coolest. #workthisway #fyp #michigancheck #garberauto ♬ original sound – Alyssa Arroyo
Happy Birthday to You
In February 2018 – a week before Alyssa’s birthday — she received an unexpected birthday gift of sorts: a message from Erika Ardouin, Director of Recruiting at Garber Management Group.
The message would lead to a life-changing career path for Alyssa, who was needing a job change.
“I knew Erika from the studio [Sarah Fechter Fitness, a locally owned gym in Saginaw, Michigan], and she messaged me on Facebook,” Alyssa explained. “She said, ‘Your resume was sent to me via Indeed.’ I had applied, not knowing a ton about Garber. I had left a job as an administrative assistant; I was really unhappy there. I was overextending myself and doing too much.”
Erika told Alyssa that Gateway Financial Solutions had an open position in accounts services. Alyssa came in that very same day to interview.
For Alyssa, the interview was unique in many ways.
“Erika was like, ‘We don’t just hire people’” Alyssa said. “I’ve never had a company do that before. It was one of the most comfortable interviews I’ve ever had. I had three interviews in total.”
It can be intimidating to apply for a job you’ve never done before. But Gateway made Alyssa feel accepted and capable – regardless of her familiarity with the tasks at hand.
“No one made me feel like I wasn’t qualified even though I had never done this before,” she explained. “They reassured me that I would be trained. I had never repossessed a car before. I’ve never collected before. This was a brand-new beast. But they trained me. Even now, I lean on people. Every person is super helpful. I’ve gone through training modules to learn.”
In 2018, Alyssa joined Gateway Financial Solutions’ Early Payment Default Team. Then she got promoted to Bankruptcy Specialist.
“I immediately felt like I could grow here,” she said. “You don’t feel like that at a lot of other places. Within 8 months, I moved up in my role. My manager believed in me, and I was positively reinforced. It was great.”
Best Foot Forward
When Alyssa started working at Gateway, she didn’t personally know Dick Garber. She certainly didn’t picture recording funny dance videos together.
That quickly changed.
“I didn’t know Mr. Garber well prior to working here,” she said. “But when I started, I noticed he would walk through the halls and then he’d say hi,” Alyssa explained. “He’d spark up a conversation. Now he’s my ride or die.”
The videos began with Snapchat: a phone app where users can use fun filters and effects to change photos.
“I started using Snapchat filters on him, like as a surprise,” she explained. “I would say to him, ‘Look at this!’ and he’d look at my phone and the filter on the phone would make him look like an ogre or something funny. The dancing started because I’d say, ‘Oh my gosh, have you heard this song?’ And I’d play it and then we’d dance and I’d be recording. But now he’s on to me, so I can’t trick him anymore,” she laughed.
Has Mr. Garber ever said “no” to Alyssa when she wanted to record a light-hearted video?
“Nope,” she said.
Alyssa doesn’t teach him the dance moves, either.
“He’s just movin’ and groovin’,” she said. “I let him do his thing. He freestyles. Let’s call it freestyling.”
Her favorite video?
“My favorite video we did is a dance to a Mexican song called ‘El Sonditio’,” she said. “But there’s a new Drake song called “Way 2 Sexy” too.”
Beyond the fun videos, Alyssa said the leadership at the company is stellar.
“Mr. Garber truly cares,” she said. “He’s a good, genuine person. When I hear him or Kristin Karwat [Chief Executive Officer, GFS] speak, they inspire me; it makes me want to stay here forever. They’re goal-driven. They’re motivating. We are going places here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
‘I Don’t Dread Coming to Work’
Alyssa said the culture at Garber is unlike any other workplace.
“We have a great time here,” she said. “There’s our Christmas party, company parties, snow cones on Fridays, potlucks. I’ve never experienced that at any other job. I feel so valued here. They just give. I’m not just a number, and it’s so hard to find this type of work environment. At other places, you are replaceable. I don’t feel replaceable here.”
She said Gateway – and the entire Garber organization – provides a strong support system.
“It really is such a great place to work,” she said. “We have fun and work hard. We’re a great company to work with and we offer room to grow. My boss Sarah LaPierre [Vice President of Legal Recovery] has picked me up for work before. She is the best. They are very understanding and supportive. I didn’t know I’d plan to retire here. But now I’m a lifer. I don’t walk on eggshells here.”
Back in the day when she worked for other places, Alyssa used to dread going to work.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air to be here,” she said. “I don’t dread coming to work. I’m not out looking for another job. I don’t have to anymore. I feel grounded and stable here. Here, they set you up for success. I’m at peace here.”
First job? Putting books away at the Hoyt Library in Saginaw. I was 15.
First car? 1996 Nissan Sentra. You had to crank the windows down.
Something people would be surprised to know about you? I was robbed when I worked at Bob Evans. It was closing time and I was mopping floors. Yeah, it was pretty scary.
Three things you can’t live without? Coconut water, dancing, musicals
Best piece of advice you’ve received and from who? You can’t manage what you don’t measure. I got that from Sarah Fechter.