When Texana Sonnefeld applied for a job at the company she now owns in 1989, her resume was originally thrown in the trash. However, proving the value of a well-written resume, it was removed from the trash and Sonnefeld was called by then owner Patrick Brodecky for an interview.
Sonnefeld, of Oro Valley, attended a community college as a business major in Ohio, and wanted to be near family in Arizona. She and her husband sent out resumes knowing that a move wasn’t possible unless one of them found employment.
The company that called back was BABCO, which was founded during the Vietnam conflict. BABCO provides food and lodging for U.S. troops worldwide. Those services are also provided worldwide to U.S. embassies.
More than 25 years later, Sonnefeld, who was originally hired as an administrative assistant, is now the company’s owner. Sonnefeld, 52, worked her way up the ranks, steadily being promoted over the year.
What is her key to success? Sonnefeld said it would be her work ethic, and dedication to the company.
“To start, they really didn’t have a place to put me at first,” she said. “I did a little bit of everything, but helped in purchasing the most. I was blessed with a strong work ethic from both my parents. It wasn’t about being at work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was all about getting the work done.”
Just like her resume, it didn’t take long for BABCO management to take notice of Sonnefeld’s work ethic and dedication to the company. She was promoted to general manager in the early 1990s, and then just a few short years later she took over as the company’s vice president.
In 2007, Sonnefeld was promoted to president and the company’s owner at the time, Brodecky, also started looking even further into the future.
Before he died, Brodecky made the necessary arrangements to allow Sonnefeld to purchase the company if something ever happened to him.
After Brodecky died, Sonnefeld said she did want to take over a company she had worked for more than 25 years, and was more than happy to continue the traditions and standards set by Brodecky.
“We’re a small company, and he was my mentor,” Sonnefeld said. “He was a friend, he was my boss. He’s the one who gave me the opportunity to do what I could do. He gave me the opportunity to do as much as I wanted to do. He allowed me to reach beyond just my position. I never set out to own the company, I just wanted to do the best work possible.”
Now, Sonnefeld said she works to continue the company’s tradition of having a quality staff that focuses on customer satisfaction.
“I, and our staff, feel passionately about the company,” she said. “I love our customers, I love what we do here. Our dedicated staff is what makes this company successful.”
When it comes to overall success, Sonnefeld said it takes vision and planning.
“This is a very competitive industry. You have to always be thinking five and 10 years into the future,” she said. “The product alone has drastically changed at least three times in the last 25 years. You have to be abreast of where your industry is going and if you are not ready for it, you are going out of business.”
Keeping BABCO competitive, Sonnefeld said they have had to work to be unique from the competition. That key aspect involves the ability to go global. While similar companies offers services on a regional level, her company sends staff all over the world as needed.
Looking into the future, Sonnefeld is clearly proud of the company she now owns, proud of how she got to the top position and acknowledges that it was her boss’ decision to pull the resume out of the trash that day that set her career path in a good direction.