Embracing Cultural Differences

November 16, 2015
Whitney VanKlaveren

Featured in Muncie Power Quarterly, Issue 4, 2015

As Muncie Power Products continues to expand into international markets, International Customer Service Manager Sandra Thompson is happy to be the voice of the company for many of its Spanish-speaking customers.

“I have calls that come through from Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and other places in Central America. I also take calls from Texas and other places in the United States,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who was born in El Salvador, was adopted by a Guatemalan mother and an American father and spoke Spanish as her primary language for the first years of her life.

“It’s a big advantage from my stand-point. I’m able to speak the language and bring comfort and familiarity to the customers on the Spanish side,” she said. “It helps with them feeling at ease with somebody who didn’t just learn the language. I can tell them I was born in El Salvador.”

Thompson grew up in Wisconsin, but she has traveled to Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico and Costa Rica.

“Cultural differences are always fun to embrace and celebrate,” she said.

But speaking Spanish is only part of her job. She also had to learn the technical side of the industry and the specifications for the diverse line of Muncie Power’s products.

“My favorite subject in school was chemistry and I love math; although, not the calculus side of things. I like the versatility and complexity of the job. I see it as a great challenge,” she said.

The company’s commitment to training its employees has been a valuable resource as she has grown into her role as international customer service manager, and Thompson appreciates that Muncie Power Products works to pass along the same information about its products to customers.

“Training is a very big part of what we do. We get out and support customers and distributors. We have a nice, personalized pace, in our training,” she said.

In addition to answering customer service calls from Spanish-speaking customers, Thompson does a lot of support work for the international sales team, including data entry, clerical duties and translating correspondence into Spanish.

“To be a team player here has been my goal. At first, when hired by Muncie Power Products, my work load consisted of clerical aspects, which in turn allowed members of the team more room for travel and focus less on paperwork, entering orders etc.," she said. 

In addition to enjoying her role as part of the international sales team, Thompson also is proud to be a Muncie Power Products employee.

"The unity is one of the many things I have enjoyed about Muncie Power Products. It really is family focused," she said.

Although the company continues to grow, Thompson believes it has kept its small-business attitude toward its customers and staff.

"On a personal note, my mother passed in December. The company as a whole expressed in different ways how much they cared. The company sent flowers, while my supervisor, co-workers, extended their sympathy verbally, through cards and emails - it was all greatly appreciated," she said. "That's a big deal in today's business world. You often lose the personalization and care. As companies grow bigger, they tend to be indifferent to employees. I don't see that here."

Sandra Thompson - International Customer Service Manager
Sandra Thompson, who grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is the International Customer Service Manager for Muncie Power Products. She majored in Spanish and secondary education with a minor in psychology in college, and has a degree in biblical studies from Northwestern University - St. Paul in Roseville, Minnesota. Thompson started working for Muncie in 2014 as the International Sales Operations Assistant, which involved clerical support for the international sales team. This position evolved into her current job in August. She has been married for 18 years and has two, teenage children.