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Allison Cash is leasing a Springfield office, where she works as vice president of marketing for Made Drinks Co., a producer of organic drinks based in the Chicago area.
Allison Cash is leasing a Springfield office, where she works as vice president of marketing for Made Drinks Co., a producer of organic drinks based in the Chicago area.

On Their Own

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Allison Cash sees her co-workers once a month, makes most major business decisions on a ceaselessly buzzing iPhone and works more than 500 miles away from her company’s headquarters.

As the vice president of marketing for Made Drinks Co., an organic drink company based in the Chicago area, Cash is one of several Ozarks residents working for companies from afar.

Since joining the company in 2008, Cash has been working to make Made Drinks a household name, spending about three years working out of her home office in Nixa before moving about six months ago to a more social work setting, a rented office space at Springfield public relations firm 2 Balance LLC.

“Even though I do a lot over the phone and e-mail, it was hard because I missed the social aspect,” Cash said. “It helps me to be more energetic the more that I’m talking to people.”

Cash is among several personnel Made Drinks founder Charlie Snell handpicked for his startup beverage company. Snell is a former executive at Nestlé,. a client Cash managed in a previous role as an account supervisor at Springfield-based The Marlin Network.

In setting up shop to work for Made Drinks, Cash said she was able to set many of the ground rules for her office.

“I was moving from a job that I knew very well to a whole new experience because we’re a startup,” Cash said. “It was kind of like I was creating my job as I went along.”

Cash said being outside of a traditional office allows her the freedom to perform market research around the country and travel to the Made Drinks headquarters once a month.

“We have a brand that’s national, so I’m constantly calling people in every city and state. It really, truly doesn’t matter where I am,” Cash said. “A lot of times, we’ll want to go out and do research and look at how brands are presenting themselves in the marketplace. I get out of the office a lot because I need to do that. You don’t get great communication ideas by sitting in front of your computer. That’s not where inspiration comes from. You get more ideas when you’re out in the world.”

Follow the talent
John Joslyn, owner of the Titanic museums in Branson and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., said off-site employees are an increasing reality for business owners.

“If we lived in a perfect world, it’s always great to have everybody on site,” Joslyn said. “But in today’s world, especially when we live in a smaller market like a Branson or a Pigeon Forge or even a Springfield, it’s hard attracting the people you really want. You then have to do things differently.”

Joslyn said the constantly expanding world of technology has allowed him to employ staff around the country, including a chief financial officer who lives in San Diego and a curator based in Orlando, Fla., casting a wider net to find the right employees.

“You want the best people, so there’s no reason why they can’t live anywhere. Then you can deal with them using all the different mediums that we have today available to us,” Joslyn said, referring to Skype, text messaging and telephone conferencing.

Two years ago, Chicago-based Retail Confectioners International found its desired candidate for executive director in Springfieldian Kelly Brinkmann, who wasn’t interested in moving out of the Ozarks.

Not only did the group hire her in January 2009, but that same month, the organization, which represents 600 manufacturing and retail confectioners, relocated to Springfield, with Brinkmann at the helm.

During her interview, Brinkmann, who was named executive director in 2009, laid the groundwork for relocation, a decision that saved the organization $233,000 during the last fiscal year, she said.

Brinkmann said her professional background overshadowed any location concerns.

“Truly, it was experience and education that made the decision a lot easier for them,” Brinkmann said.

“They’ve been in Chicago since 1917 and have been run exclusively by men. For them to choose to move out of the former candy capital of the world and move it here was significant,” she added.

The organization is now based at 2053 S. Waverly Ave., Ste. C., and Brinkmann reports to RCI leadership and members nationwide.

Flexibility and discipline
Melissa Gelner, marketing director for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, has worked from her Springfield home for more than 10 years.

While working from home has provided much-needed balance for her family, Gelner said working solo requires more self-regulation than the average in-office job.

“The vision of people who work from home is that they always have fuzzy slippers or are in their PJs still at 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” Gelner said. “You have to be disciplined. You have to treat it like you’re going into the office even though it’s down the hall rather than across town.”

Gelner said her home-based office, which relies on teleconferences and programs such as Microsoft’s SharePoint to pass data between co-workers, often provides for a more efficient workday.

“As an employee, the biggest benefit is focus. I don’t have all of those distractions,” Gelner said. “I think my productivity is higher because of that.”

Joslyn said the convenience of technology means more employees will have freedom to choose where they work.

“(Location) doesn’t make too much difference, really,” Joslyn said. “It’s an ever-changing world, and I think you have to move on with progress.”[[In-content Ad]]


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