Teamwork Makes Dreamwork!
Patrick Hoy here – and I’m so happy to be back with the next installment of my ‘Meet The Quacker Team’ blog series! Angel and I are very lucky that we get to work with an amazing team every single day of our lives! I’ve said it before and I’ll definitely keep saying it – Jeanne Bice really knew what she was doing when she brought us all together.
Our Quacker Factory team is pretty darn Quack-Tabulous – we really are like a family – and when you love your ‘family’, you want to share them with the rest of the world! I’ve already introduced you to Kristy, Susan, John, Leslie, Page & Tiago. If you missed any of those blogs, you can find them all at www.quackerfactory.com Today I’m super excited to be introducing you to one of our team members who has known the Bice family almost since he was born – because he grew up in the same town Jeanne is from – Ripon, Wisconsin! Ladies, it gives me pleasure for you to….
Meet John Mason!
Even though John has known the Bice Family his whole life, he’s actually one of our newest team members. John officially started working with us in September of 2011 – just after our beautiful Jeanne joined the angels in heaven – but as you’re about to find out, he and Jeanne were certainly no strangers at all. In fact, Jeanne and her husband Butch gave John his first ever paying job when he was just a young kid – so it seems only appropriate that after all of these years – Jeanne is ‘employing’ John once again!
I recently spent some time with John while he was busy working in his office in Wisconsin – and asked him a few questions so that you could all get to know him better. I even asked him how much Jeanne paid him per hour when she first employed him back in the 1960’s!
Patrick: John, I’m so excited that we get to spend some time together today especially since you are one of the very few Quacker Factory team members who has actually known Jeanne Bice since the 1960’s – I’m sure you have LOTS of stories to tell us about Jeanne that I just know our viewers and readers are going to LOVE! But before I have you start spilling the beans on Jeanne and the Bice family, why don’t you tell our viewers what you do as the Vice President of Operations for the wonderful and wacky Quacker Factory?!
John: Hello Patrick – and everyone! I’m super excited to be spending time with you as well – and yes, I certainly have some fun stories to tell you about Jeanne and the Bice family! As the VP or Operations for Quacker Factory, I handle such functions as Financials & Accounting – specifically a lot of our Administrative activities – such as our payroll, insurance & legal contracts. I also spend quite a bit of time ensuring our Trademarks and Copy writes are up to date – and are in place to protect our DreamJeannes, logos and the company name Quacker Factory. Vendor Management is another big area of my responsibilities – this would include making sure our external business partners are providing the services that we need them to – such as our website, advertising/public relations firm – and any software agreements that we have in place. I also make sure that our internal back office infrastructure is in place, running and up to date. One of my favorite responsibilities is administrating all of the sweepstakes that we do throughout the year – it’s great fun to be able to see some of our customers win the amazing prices we’ve been giving away.
Patrick: I bet that is fun! Where can our viewers find out what the latest sweepstakes are?
John: We always host all of the sweepstakes on our website – so all they have to do is regularly visit www.quackerfactory.com and scroll down on the main page to see what goodies they can win. When they go to our website, they can also sign up for our Happy Alerts – that way they’ll be the first to know when we have a new contest running. Did you know Patrick that we recently we gave away $1,000.00 to one lucky winner?!
Patrick: WOW – that is too cool! I bet that viewer was VERY happy!
John: She certainly was! Speaking of our viewers, I also support our Customer Service function at Quacker Factory which provides the opportunity to talk directly to our wonderful Quacker friends. Basically Patrick, my job entails a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that probably a lot of people don’t think about – but is absolutely critical in running a big business like ours.
Patrick: You are one busy man! Tell us a little bit about your background, please – what were you doing before you started with Quacker Factory?
John: I graduated from college in 1981 with a Business Administration & Management Information Systems degree. Nowadays that’s known as a degree in IT – Information Technology. I then worked for over 30 years with Financial Banking institutions.
Patrick: And where do you live?
John: As you wrote earlier, I grew up in Ripon, Wisconsin – where the Bice family grew up as well. And for the last 26 years, I’ve lived just outside of Milwaukee in a suburb called Mequon.
Patrick: Here’s a adorable picture of you and your sister when you lived in Ripon all those years ago.
Patrick: Mequon is beautiful – and so is Milwaukee – I had so much fun visiting you and your family there last October when we had one of our Quacker Factory team meetings there! I also understand that you have a lake house in Wisconsin.
John: Yes, we do – it’s right on Green Lake – and it’s not too far from where the Bice’s had their lake house when we were growing up. And now Tim and his wife Karin have a new place right nears ours.
Patrick: I think we need to make Green Lake the official summer office of Quacker Factory!
John: Ha – that would be fun Patrick. We could all wake up early and get our work done – and then Tim Bice and I could teach you all how to waterski and sail in the afternoons – and we could make all of the recipes out of Jeanne’s cookbook when we got hungry!
Patrick: I’m LOVING that idea – I think Angel and I need to talk to Tim about this right away! Soooooo, even though you started working for Quacker Factory in 2011, you knew Jeanne even before she started Quacker Factory – isn’t that right?
John: It is Patrick. I used to work at Jeanne and her best friend Marianne’s store in Ripon called The Silent Woman.
Patrick: For those of our viewers who have read Jeanne’s amazing and inspirational book ‘Pull Yourself Up By Your Bra Straps’, you will remember reading about this special store of hers. Here’s a picture of Angel in front of the house that used to be where the store was. Angel visited Wisconsin recently and was able to get this wonderful picture. It’s now a private home, but I bet you have some good memories from working there, John?
Patrick: So when did you actually meet Jeanne for the first time – do you remember that?
John: I met Mrs. Bice – (I always called her Mrs. Bice!) when I was 11 years old. I was in 5th grade – and Jeanne’s son Tim Bice was in 4th grade – and we met because we were on the same soccer team. At our final game of the season, we lost – and Tim was devastated because he missed a goal, so he thought it was all his fault that we didn’t win. Even at that young age, I could tell how upset he was. His mother, Jeanne, was waiting for him on the edge of the field in the parking lot sitting in her big brown Chrysler 4-door La Barron – and I could see her waiting for him. He was so distraught, so I walked over with him. I think Mrs. Bice could sense that something was not right, so she jumped out of the car and gave us both a big hug and said “Don’t worry boys – there will be plenty of chances in the future to win again – for now, let’s go get some ice cream!” – and that’s when I first met Mrs. Bice! I have since put Tim’s mind at ease about the soccer game…I was the goalie of the team, so I must have let in the winning goal! Of course Patrick, I had grown up knowing who the Bice’s were – they owned the local radio station and were heavily involved in the community – they were definitely prominent community members or Ripon.
Patrick: That’s what we loved about our Jeanne – always the optimist – and if optimism doesn’t work – ice cream will! After that, you and Tim became very good friends as you entered Middle School – and I understand that when you turned 14, Mrs. Bice gave you your very first ever paying job.
John: Yes, Patrick, that’s true. There was an older boy who cut their grass and did chores around their house – and when he couldn’t do the job anymore, Mrs. & Mr. Bice offered me the job. I would cut their grass about once a week in the warmer weather – and I also did the flower beds and gardening. I remember planting rose bushes – because Jeanne’s husband Butch really liked roses.
Patrick: Okay, I’m going to stop you right there. I want to know why her own son Tim wasn’t out there cutting his own lawn for his lovely mama?!
John: Ha – good question, but because he was a year and a half younger than me, I don’t think his parents wanted him and his still developing feet near the lawn mower until he was a little older! BUT, the next summer when he was older, I was worried that I wouldn’t have my job – but do you know what?! Jeanne hired us both! And this was when we really became best friends. I remember our biggest project that summer was when we were tasked with painting the whole outside of the house – and also the fence – I felt like I was Huckleberry Finn that summer with Tim! And guess what Patrick, I can STILL remember the colors we used. Hammered Iron on the main parts of the exterior of the house – and the trim color was called Manor White – and the fence was Redwood Cedar – because it was a redwood fence.
Patrick: Who knew that this little boy who loved to play with caterpillars would end up becoming the Huckleberry Finn of Ripon, Wisconsin and work for Jeanne Bice?!
Patrick: So, how much did Mrs. Bice pay you for all of that work?
John: I think I was paid $1.75 per hour – which was quite a lot back then! I felt that I was on my way to becoming a millionaire – Jeanne & Butch were so generous! It was a BIG house – and it took us what seemed like forever to paint that house – especially because it would rain – and then we had to wait a couple of days for it to dry out. And let me tell you something Patrick, I hope I NEVER see a paint scraper again in my life – boy, we scraped and scraped and scraped that summer – there was no skimping on quality with Mrs. Bice!
Patrick: So when did you start working at The Silent Woman shop?
John: The first summer it opened. The store was in the house that Butch grew up in – and then his mother lived there. She finally moved out to the Bice lake house. They had professionals do the major renovations to turn the house into a shop/store, but Tim and I were ‘hired’ for the summer to do the painting, move the furniture, and do outside landscaping – Jeanne always insisted the outside looked as good as the inside – otherwise no one will want to walk in through the door – ‘curb appeal’ was DEFINITELY important to Jeanne! And then when all of the renovations were done, Tim & I helped stock the shelves with all of the merchandise. It was one of my favorite summer jobs ever. It was so neat to see Mrs. Bice go into business.\
Patrick: What did Jeanne sell in the store?
John: A lot of clothing – primarily appliqué tops. Jeanne would design the tops – and then she would hire local woman to cut and sew – and bring her designs to life! She also had other knickknack things like Christmas ornaments, scarfs, candles, glass and pottery objects.
Patrick: I really wish I could have seen the store – it sounds like it was beautiful! I love that Jeanne gave you your first paying job – and now you’re working in essence for Jeanne again! Isn’t it amazing how life in one wonderful and big circle?! Okay, what I know our viewers REALLY want to know is this – did you ever get in trouble with Jeanne when you worked for her?!
John: Yes – but before I tell you what happened, I just want to let you and our viewers know that whenever we got in trouble – it was always Tim’s fault!
Patrick: Ha – I’m not sure Tim would agree with that though!
John: You’re probably right about – just promise me Patrick you won’t let him read this blog! Anyway, when I was in college, I still worked for the Bice’s during my summer breaks – as did Tim. We had actually started a little house painting business, but we also worked for the Bice’s and did odd jobs. Mrs. Bice ALWAYS had a task-list for us EVERY day. This was our bible for the day. By this time, the Bice’s had a condo in Florida – so even when Jeanne was down in Florida, she had a task-list for us that she would send us every day. One day we didn’t complete the task list because we snuck off when she was gone and we went to play golf. She called us from Boca Raton, FL – and this was WAY before cell phones. She found us – she knew where we were. We were at the Goose Blind Bar in Green Lake, WI. Jeanne was 1,500 miles away in Boca Raton, FL – and somehow she found out where we were – and she called the payphone on the wall of the bar – and demanded to whomever answered that payphone to put her son on the phone immediately. How she got that number, is still a mystery to me to this day! We were supposed to have picked up some furniture as one of our To-Do List items that day – and we hadn’t. She found out somehow – and she was NOT happy. Tim was grounded for part of the summer even though he was in college – and my parents found out as well. Needless to say, our behavior improved immediately after that – and we never missed an item on Mrs. Bice’s To-Do List ever again!
Patrick: Oh my gosh – it’s pretty spooky that she knew where you were – AND also that she was able to randomly find the number of the PAYPHONE in the bar – only Jeanne!! That story really made me laugh, John! Can you tell us about a time that Jeanne made YOU really laugh?
John: She would always have us move furniture. I remember moving her hideabed sofa in her condo in Florida – she was on the 3rd or 4th floor in her building. That bed was HEAVY, Patrick! We had to stand it on end just to get it in the elevator. When we finally got it into her condo, she said “put it over here by the windows”. So, we picked it up and put it there. She looked for a few minutes and then said, “No I think I want it over by this wall”. So, in the summer heat of Florida, we pick that monster of a hideabed sofa up and moved it across the room to where she now wanted it. After a few minutes she said, “Well, now that I’ve seen it there, I think it would be better over here”. Patrick, I think we must have moved that darn sofa bed 6 times that afternoon. Guess where she finally wanted it to go??? The exact same spot under the windows where we had first put it after struggling to get it upstairs, on its end, in the elevator, down the hall, through the door and into the condo! It’s amazing Tim and I didn’t say any four-letter words that day – but I was worried she would have called my parents again – and then I would have been in trouble once again with them! We ended up all falling to the floor in a fit of laughter! I wish I could tell you Patrick that this only happened once – but Jeanne was ALWAYS having us move furniture like that. I still laugh about it today – but that goes to show you how detail orientated Jeanne was – and how important it was for her that everything was just right and perfect.
Patrick: Oh my Lordy – that is the funniest story ever! And you’re right, that’s exactly how detail-orientated she really was. She was that way about her designs as well – they always had to be JUST right – and they still are to this day! Here’s a picture of you with Jeanne & Tim. Even back then she was wearing her headbands!
Patrick: Did Jeanne ever give you any good advice?
John: She used to say ALWAYS to us “Keep your head down and your nose clean” – this was the best advice she gave me – and in short, it meant, keep yourself out of trouble. And she was forever giving you – what she called – ‘Free Advice’ – whether you wanted it or not! One of her favorites she always said to Tim and me was – “Work hard, save your money – and go to college young man’! But one of my favorite sayings that she would say if she didn’t believe whatever it was you were telling her was – “Boochie Wa – Poo Poo!” – while wagging her index finger at you. I don’t even know if ‘Boochie’ & ‘Wa’ are real words – but we knew exactly what she meant when she said it all together – That’s when you knew that she wasn’t buying a single word you were telling her!
Patrick: That is too funny. It’s obvious that not much got past Jeanne! I understand that if Jeanne had not become a Designer, she should have been a detective – is this true?
John: Oh my gosh Patrick, that is SO true! She had this way/ knack of being able to pump information out of us like no one else! School, girlfriends, family and friends. That woman wanted to know every detail and every bit of gossip about every single one of our friends. If we started dating someone, she would find out everything she could about that girl. If she wanted to know what Tim or Lee was up to, she would pump us for information – and I don’t know how she did it, but she got us to sing and spill the beans unlike anyone else I’ve ever known – she was a natural at getting information out of us – and anyone else she wanted to. We all thought she should apply to the local police department and become a detective – Cagney & Lacy had nothing on her!
Patrick: Speaking of girlfriends, you eventually got a girlfriend – who I’m sure Jeanne found out everything she could about her.
John: That’s right, and now that girlfriend is my wife. As of July of this year, we’ll have been married 29 years. Tim was part of my wedding and served as my Best Man – and I was the Best Man at his wedding.
Patrick: I love this picture of you and Mary on your wedding day!
Patrick: And now you have a lovely family – please tell us about your boys.
John: We have two children. Kale who just graduated from University of Iowa – and Conner who is getting ready to go into 12th grade. We all love going to Green Lake in the summers to water ski, sail and BBQ – and in the winter’s we love ice boating and snowmobiling.
Patrick: Here’s a great picture of the 4 of you in front of QVC when you came to a Quacker Factory live audience show recently.
Patrick: I understand that you were close to Tim’s sister Lee as well.
John: We were definitely very good friends. This is one of my favorite pictures of the three of us together.
Patrick: Do you have a favorite time you spent with Jeanne?
John: I had the pleasure of being with her for her 70th birthday. We were all at Green Lake and what a party it was!!!
Patrick: Here’s a picture of you with Jeanne, Tim and your family – it looks like it was a night you will remember forever.
Patrick: If you won the Lottery, what would you do?
John: I would probably retire sooner than planned and take my family to Green Lake and live happily ever after. Oh yea, it would be fun to buy the old house that The Silent Woman shop was in – and to turn it into a Jeanne Bice Museum.
Patrick: I hope you win the Lottery then John – and I know a lot of our viewers hope so too – we would love that!. And finally John, what is your favorite QVC product – and why?
John: Believe it or not, our Rowenta iron. Because it really produces steam unlike any other iron I’ve owned – and it seems to erase all of the winkles in my shirts – I honestly can’t live without it! We love it so much, we bought two – one here – and one at the Lake house on Green Lake.
Patrick: Well, when you get done with your ironing, can you please come over to London and do mine?! John, thank you SO much for taking the time to sit down with me today – I’ve had so much fun getting to know you better – and I know that our ladies have really enjoyed this as well!
One Team – One Dream!
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know John! Next time you visit www.quackerfactory.com I’m sure you’ll be thinking of John as you enter our latest sweepstakes. Who knows, he might just be the one who calls you to tell you our latest winner!!! Join me again next month when I introduce you to another wonderful member of our Quacky & Wacky team!!
Quacker Hugs & Love From Across the Duck Pond!
Patrick H. Hoy
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