Sales manager works hard to build a team with strong values

| August 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Jeff Wertz

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

Being in a sales role for the past 20 years as a sales rep, sales manager and now national sales manager, there are many times my Catholic values are tested. Having a strong Catholic, faith-based value system allows me to make the right choice every time. I never have to think about what to do. This works especially well when working for a large, regulated bank. There is no room for unethical behavior. As a sales leader, I’m a mentor and role model for our younger sales team members. They witness how I act with customers and when traveling, and they learn from my behavior.

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference.

Earlier this year, our sales team had gotten off to a slow start from a volume standpoint. There was a lot of negative talk and finger pointing. I always found water-cooler talk to be very destructive to the team and not helpful. I wanted to challenge the team to work on positive ways to grow the business versus discussing all the people they felt weren’t doing their job.

This happened around the beginning of Lent. I sent an email to my sales management team talking about Lent and, specifically, fasting. I described fasting and how it could positively affect their work life — by giving up negative office talk during Lent versus giving up something like pop or alcohol. It was a wakeup call to the team, and I felt it turned attitudes around. I can proudly say we are back above plan for the year.

Who or what has been most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by many inspirational people throughout my life. My parents raised me in a home that was very religious, and they set a lifelong foundation based on faith.

As an adult, three people have been my biggest inspirations. First, Father Steve LaCanne and Father Michael Reding, both priests at St. Bartholomew. Father Steve was our priest when I started both my family and career. His guidance in those early days gave me the framework to be successful and faith-based at work.

Father Michael became our priest around the same time I moved into management. He had spent time in the workforce before becoming a priest, and he could relate to many of the work issues I was facing.

These two were inspirations, and made me want to be a better leader and man. But, more than all these great people, my biggest inspiration is my wonderful wife Teresa. Teresa is an amazing woman of faith who gives her time, talents and treasures every day. She is very active in our parish, from lecturing to lay preaching, and spends countless hours volunteering throughout the community at places like IOCP.

But, for me, she gives me the support I need to handle the stress of my job. She cares more about our happiness than about material things or job promotions. She keeps me grounded, and reminds me of what is really important in our lives.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

Before I became the national sales manager in 2013, for 10 years I managed a group at TCFEF called Specialty Markets. When I took over the team in early 2003, we had four sales people and a portfolio of about $150 million. Ten years later, the team grew to 15 with a portfolio over $700 million.

But more importantly, I was part of hiring a team with both strong work and family values. Building a team with strong values is a lot more work, and takes a lot longer, but what remains is a loyal, long-term team that believes in each other.

In 2006, we added a number of new members to our sales team. We grew from eight sales people to 12. That year, I wanted to let the new team members know, and remind the old members, what I believed to be our core values as a team. I gave a presentation that focused on: 1. being great in the office (stay positive, exceed customer expectations); 2. being great when traveling for business (make the right choices, represent your company in a positive light); 3. being great away from work (coach, be active in your church, volunteer).

I wanted the team to know what I stood for and what my expectations were for them. I’m proud to say that the team is still together and is the most profitable one in the company.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

Early in 2012, one of my top sales reps was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was very serious, and the outcome was unclear. He needed the job and the money to support his family and [pay] medical bills, as well as having [to support] two daughters in college.

The values and strength of the team were evident when a number of sales people stepped forward to help close his deals when he was too sick to work or going through treatment. He was a 100-percent commissioned sales rep, so without that help, he would have been unable to work deals and make money. The team stepped up, worked extra hours and helped his family.

Sadly, he passed away late in 2012, but the way the team stepped up to help was wonderful. They were guided by something bigger than themselves. That is how a team based on strong values succeeds and grows stronger.


Age: 45

Company: TCF Equipment Finance, Inc. (a division of TCF National Bank)

Title: Senior vice president, national sales manager

Parish: St. Bartholomew in Wayzata

Spouse: Teresa Litfin-Wertz

Children: Lauren, 25; Madeline, 18

Volunteer activities: Lead usher at St. Bartholomew, youth soccer coach, pre-marriage mentor for PREPARE

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Category: Leading With Faith