I was a PSE for Lowe’s in Poughkeepsie, NY. I was fired on May 16th 2014. I feel there was a grave injustice given to me because of some vendetta that the Store Manager Christian O Donnell had for me. My sales were always in the top 3 in the market. My closing ratio was 30% my sales were over 89% of plan YTD. My margin was 29%. In 2012 my year started in June and I ended up with $459,000 in sales for the Lloyd and Poughkeepsie stores. In the full year in 2013 I had sales of $690,000 for two stores. For 2014 I was already at $247,000. That’s over 1.3 Million in sales as a PSE.
I enjoyed working for Lowe’s. I was proud to work for Lowe’s. I started out as a part timer in the flooring dept. I had my own business and wanted to have a full time position in the winter when my Mobile detailing business would be slow. After the season was over I applied to a position down in building materials as a full timer. In January of the following year I became a traveling PSA. In this position I was responsible for building displays and doing the plan-o-grams for the area market stores. I worked at this position for 3 months and was asked by the store manager in Poughkeepsie, David Lilkas to apply for the PSE position. I researched it and decided to apply. I secured the position as a PSE for the Lloyd store and the Poughkeepsie store. There was not much training. The first week I went to another store and trained with the PSE in Chester. I was there only a couple of days. I didn’t learn much because the PSE in Chester didn’t do much. He was playing video games on his computer. I decided to come back to Poughkeepsie and go out with Mark Simpson who was the PSE I replaced. From the beginning I learned the price sheets were not followed too closely by our contractors. There were always additional charges that cost either the customer more or less margin for me.
Unfortunately I learned from the mistakes I made. I had one customer order windows and an install that I sold. The contractor went out to measure and when he gave me the measurements, it didn’t indicate if it was a rough opening or exact. I didn’t know the difference then. I ordered the windows and they came in ½ inch too big. The customer cancelled the sale and the Lloyd store was left with the windows to sell at a deep discount. After this I now understood the difference between rough opening and exact opening. I talked with the contractors to only provide me with the exact opening so this would not happen again.
Another mistake I made was when I ordered a couple of trapezoidal shaped windows. I measured from inside and designed the window that way. The windows came in and they were wrong because the manufacturer builds the window from outside dimensions. The windows that came in were the exact opposite of what I needed. We took a loss on those windows. We reordered them and everything was fine.
Other mistakes that were made were from a result of the fence contractor not giving me a list of materials from his detail. He always refused to go and detail a job as he is expected to do. Our one fence contractor came from Matamoras, PA. Then the next contractor came from Saugerties. I can understand why they didn’t want to come out just to measure. But I still needed a list of materials for the job so I could order the right materials. Many times this was not provided to me. I sold a chain link fence and after not receiving a detail, I figured out what we needed and ordered all the materials. I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what I needed all the brackets, and bolts, and bars, top rails and line posts and end posts and gates and gate posts. All the materials were to be in black. I spent so much time trying to get it all right I forgot the simple thing like cement. Everything was delivered to the customer and the contractor called upset because there was no cement on the job to install. He had to make a trip to the store to get the cement needed for the install. As a result of this it tarnished our relationship. I asked the install manager that they double check my order for these things and if the guy that was loading these for delivery would use common sense to notify us if he saw a fence for an install but did not see cement he should notify someone. From the very beginning I had issues with certain contractors. In Poughkeepsie we used Mid Hudson Fence for installing fences. They would give me a list of materials that included much more than what was needed for the job. At the end of one of the jobs we had two pallets of materials that had to be returned to the store and refunded to the customer resulting in a lower margin on the sale. This contractor also told me he uses Lowe’s to keep his guys busy in the slow times. In the busy times he was putting my customers off for 2 months which was unacceptable to me, so I stopped using him.
There was one incident where I sold windows in a basement. When the contractor went out he was charging an additional cost per window to remove the frame out of the concrete surrounding it. This was an additional $450. I didn’t realize that this was something that had to be done. I never had any training on this. I learned by making mistakes. I was written up for this because the store took the loss. It wasn’t a loss it was a reduction in margin.
There was another time with a fence sale where the contractor asked for more money after the fact because there was a hard dig. The area below the soil was full of boulders. The expense was an additional $1000 that caused my sale to lose money and I was written up because of this. Apparently I should have known there was a hard dig and charged for it. My manager told me to add an additional $1000 to all the fence proposals because we didn’t know if the contractor would charge us for a hard dig or not. As a result of this my fence sales declined because we were no longer competitive in the market. We were getting beat by Adams fence almost every time. But I didn’t know what the contractor was going to ask for after the job was done. He refused to go out and detail the jobsite after the sale as he is under contract to do.
Then the last one was a job to do siding on an old hotel, converted into a camp that was now owned by the Seventh Day Adventists. For this job I went to the site and measured, did my drawings and sent everything to a contractor to do a second measure and a list of materials and the labor that he would want for the job. After this I was able to create the estimate. Although the price was higher than her other bids she went with Lowe’s because of me and the reputation of Lowe’s. We ordered all the materials and when they all came in the contractor wanted to meet with me at the site to go over the job. I asked my install manager to come with me, because I was expecting an issue. The contractor looked at the job and asked me about how the windows would be finished off. He said we are putting the j channel on the edge of the concrete and then the camp would paint the concrete around the edge of the windows. I said no we are wrapping the windows and doors. He started to give me more materials that he would need to do the project. The customer wanted to have the wires that were exposed under the deck of the second floor boxed in so they would not show. The customer thought this was all included. I never discussed this except to say we could probably do something to hide the wires, I would let her know. After this meeting with everybody I found out that the contractor now wanted an additional $4800 in materials and another $10000 for the labor. Paul one of the ASM’s was able to get him to do it for $6000 additional labor. As a result of this, the job became unprofitable and I forfeited my commission. I was also written up on this and this became my final warning. The final warning meant that if I had another error within a year that I would be separated from the company and terminated. I was not able to transfer, to another store, to ask to have a different position in the store. It just seemed to me that he wanted me out of the store and out of Lowe’s.
That termination came on May 16th. There was a customer of the store that ordered a fence install and wanted the Arborley panel we sell for $45.00 a panel. After waiting almost two weeks after the sale for a detail from the contractor, I figured out the materials myself and ordered everything. The customer called and was upset that the install was taking so long, so when the merchandise came in the contractor came to the store and picked it up. He told the customer that there were 4x4x8 posts missing. But I sold the 5x5x8 vinyl posts that did not need 4x4x8 wood posts. The customer called the store and said this was not what he ordered. I told him it was exactly what he ordered. He said he wanted the fence to look like his neighbors. He told me he wanted the fence panel that was priced at $45.00. I pointed it out to him in the book when I sold it and he said yes that’s what he wants. Apparently what he meant to say is that’s what he wants to pay for it but he wants the better fence like his neighbor for the price of the one we stock. Here’s a little background on this customer. I have been to his house 3 times. Once for a fence, once for a deck and once for an HVAC quote. Each time turned out to be a waste of time. He also has been caught stealing in the store by me and our LP. The customer was asked not to come back to the store. But he still showed up in my project tool for a fence. I told him he could come in for a refund and he could go to Home Depot and buy his fence. This is what I was fired for. I never stole anything, no sexual harassment, customers loved me, everybody in the store saw me as a hard worker, and for this I was fired. People who were fired for stealing, doing drugs, all have the same in their file. Fired from Lowe’s
I am also a customer of Lowe’s and have spent a lot of money in the store. As long as Chris O Donnell is manager in the store I will not be a customer of Lowe’s. I will now be a customer of Home Depot.
He motivates everybody with fear. I don’t motivate this way. I get motivated by positive reinforcement. If I feel I am appreciated I work harder. You can’t manage individuals all the same, you have to find out what motivates them and use that. Let’s face it most of the people working at Lowe’s is there making between $9.00 and $15.00 an hour. They have to feel appreciated to want to come to work. I feel he wants people that can’t think for themselves, just do what he says. You talk to any of the employees that have been there a while and they all are afraid of their jobs. There has been a lot of turnover in the store. Many employees left to go to the Lloyd store so they wouldn’t have to work with Mr. O’Donnell. My original ASM Jason Jackson transferred out of the store because of him. Jason and I worked well together. He went out on calls with me like he is supposed to. My current ASM has never gone out with me. When he left it became difficult to work with Chris.
When I was written up on final I asked for a copy of the letter I signed and he refused to give it to me. Paul Marshall was my witness to this. He was the ASM that sat in with us. I later found out from the NYS Dept of Labor that I am entitled to anything I signed in my folder. I also found out that if I signed something it was not agreeing with what was on it, but agreeing I received a copy. I would like a copy of everything I signed in my folder.