A Millennials Journey Home - Argentina to Kalamazoo!0
This Premier Partner Spotlight from KSS was written by Jennifer Pollock, Director of Marketing.
A Kalamazoo native, Grace Hill was born and raised in the area, attended Portage Public Schools and graduated from Portage Northern High School. Though she enjoyed Kalamazoo, after high school Hill wanted to “get out and experience somewhere outside of Michigan,” as she puts it. Her desire to get away led her to attend Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and eventually to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she studied Spanish for six months as part of her dual degree in Spanish and Marketing.
In 2014, after graduating from Marist, Hill was faced with where to go next and start her career. She had the opportunity to go back to Buenos Aires to teach English, which is what she was intending to do. Living in Argentina for six months she returned to Kalamazoo to spend the holidays with family. Once back in Kalamazoo, Hill realized how special and unique the city was, so she changed her plans and started looking for opportunities in the area.
"There is a strong sense of community in Kalamazoo," states Hill. “I know that having the time away experiencing other cities and communities, made me appreciate Kalamazoo differently when I returned. From great restaurants and the craft beer culture, to unique local shops and the emphasis on the arts, there are so many things Kalamazoo has to offer.”
That job search brought her back to KSS Enterprises, a local distributor of facility supplies and equipment, where she spent a summer as a marketing intern while in college. She had enjoyed the atmosphere at KSS and reached back out to see if there was opportunity there.
“KSS is a long standing Kalamazoo company that just celebrated their 70th year in business. However, they have a strong desire to recruit and train younger talent and it shows in their culture,” said Hill.
“I enjoyed the culture as an intern and feel blessed that I was able to get a position to be a part of it again,” Hill shared. In addition to her, there are other ‘millennials’ that hold positions in sales, operations, human resources, and marketing.
In an industry that is comprised mostly of aging and experienced professionals it is an unusual approach to business, but one that KSS is proud to have. “Five years ago KSS was a different company,” states Katie Engle, Director of Talent and Development.
“We were an aging workforce and knew we needed to look to the future in our hiring. We started recruiting more based on personal qualities and less on industry experience, said Engle. We have seen a large shift in our culture with hiring millennials. They are focused on being part of a team, building community through volunteering, and other activities. They are great for KSS and for Kalamazoo!”
Hill is now an inside showroom sales / marketing assistant, a dual role that is now exposing her to various aspects of business. Hill shares, “I have loved the experiences of living in New York and Argentina, but being back in Kalamazoo and experiencing the culture here now as an adult, I know I am where I am supposed to be!”