On July 1, a major milestone will be reached for Burgess Technology Services of Bath and one of their valued team members. Cindy Gabelmann will become the first employee to retire from the 35-year-old organization after nearly 22 years. Her life, the company and technology have all changed quite dramatically in those years. We were pleased to “virtually” sit down with our VIP Cindy to chat about her upcoming retirement, and her many years with the business.
BTS: How did you happen to begin working for the company? (then Burgess Computer, located at 101 Centre Street in Bath)
C: I was a stay-at- home mom, and my friend Polly Walker asked if I was interested in job-sharing at Burgess Computer. After talking to Craig Burgess, I agreed to work afternoons, starting in September of 1998, the same week that my oldest daughter left for college, my middle daughter started 7th grade, and my youngest daughter started 1st grade.
BTS: What was your role at the time?
C: I started as a receptionist, answering the phones, and helping customers who came in, and also did general office tasks. Gradually I started doing all of the billing for the company, along with Accounts Receivable and other bookkeeping, while still answering the phones. Initially I worked afternoons from Noon-4. Polly left within the year, so I started working mornings, 9-2 which was perfect for my family. I kept those hours until Hannah graduated from high school and left for college in 2010. I then went full-time.
BTS: Technology has changed dramatically and exponentially in the last 22 years. How did you experience that?
C: When I started, everything was face-to-face with people lugging their computers in to be worked on, or technicians going to customer sites for everything. Now, so much is done remotely. The internet has really changed everything, both in terms of keeping people and businesses connected and in the way we help them do that. We now have service plans for many of our customers, and we keep an eye on things for them. We can respond before they even know there’s a problem. In the old days, we would fix things after they broke, now we can identify potential problems and fix them before they become an issue.
We started as a small business helping individuals figure out all the new technology, getting them set up with home computers, helping the little guy join the future. Now our focus is on keeping companies running, helping them acquire the technology they need, being proactive in keeping them safe and running smoothly, and so many other things!
BTS: How has your role changed over the years?
C: I was completely non-technical when I started. Answering a phone was the extent of my skills. Over the years, I learned a lot by osmosis, from doing the job, and from my co-workers’ very kind and patient help. When I started, billing was completely manual, with me typing up the body of the invoice from notes made by the techs. There was no real process, and bills were printed on carbon copy paper on a dot-matrix printer. Separate, stuff top copy in envelope, address, seal, stamp, mail. Now, we have real processes, with integrated technology. I review a ticket, hit a couple of keys, it’s transferred to our accounting software. Hit another key, email. Bam! There are now processes in place for everything from requesting time off, to ordering equipment, to installing huge new networks. We’ve gone from a Mom & Pop operation (which had its own special charm) to a real established business, a well-oiled machine that has kept some of the charm of the early days, such as a real person (ME!) answering the phones, and customer service being the #1 priority.
BTS: What will you miss most?
C: I will really miss being part of a team and all of my co-workers. I’m a people person and love the interaction with my work family every day. I also have so many customers that I talk to regularly, who feel like friends and I worry I will never talk to them again
BTS: What are you looking forward to in your retirement?
C: I am looking forward to going for a walk every day. I want to start playing my piano and my violin more often. I love to travel, and I can’t wait to just go visit my family whenever I feel like it and stay as long as I want. I’m sure they will love that too! I am looking forward to my dream of visiting all the MLB baseball stadiums. I have 18 more to go. I am looking forward to going to concerts, getting home at 2 AM, and not having to go to work in the morning.