Featured Story

The Work We Do: Barbara Zilnicki, O’Neill Outdoor Power Equipment

Brought to you by:

My name is Barbara. I am the office manager for O’Neill Outdoor Power Equipment. 

Eight years ago when I started with Sean O’Neill, the generator business was small. After Hurricane Sandy, things took off astronomically. We didn’t know what to expect. And then every year, our name got bigger, we expanded our territory from Orient to Montauk to Kings Point. We sell generators, we service generators, we install generators. In essence, we grew to be one of the largest Briggs and Stratton distributors on the east coast of the country.

We have approximately 450 customers of Briggs & Stratton generators and eight years ago when I started, we had about 40.

Our generators have monitoring devices on them that I monitor from my home computer, the office computer, our cell phones, so, when there’s a power failure, we get notified if that generator did not start up. And that alone has our customers at peace.

First thing in the morning I set up the technicians with their schedules. I send them out on their routes. Any generator that has a fault or a problem, those are top priority. They get serviced first and then every generator gets its yearly service. Once the technicians are out on the road, I send Sean out on sales calls or we do equipment delivery. We’re also in the rental business, so, I’ll set up the machines for the drivers to deliver to certain job sites, or pick up machines and then once everybody’s dispersed, I’m pretty much here by myself all day. I answer the phones, I pay bills, I do invoicing, I check the info hubs, which is the monitoring devices.

Over the years, I’ve become very personal with my customers. I know all about their families, I know all about their pets, their children. When they call, I know them by first name. I know their address and they appreciate the fact that I remember them and that seems to be the most joy that our customers get. They call me and they say, ‘Barbara, it’s ‘so and so’ from … ’ and I repeat the address before they get to it and there like ‘Oh, how do you remember?’ I say, ‘I remember all my customers. You’re all just very personal to me.’

This is more than just a job; we’re a family here. When there’s a storm, we live, breathe and dream about how we’re going to manage and how we’re going to make sure all our customers’ generators are working. In essence, we learned, we prospered, and we have a great Briggs & Stratton tech team in Wisconsin. Whenever we need help, they’re always there. They know me and Sean on a first name basis and they’re part of our family also.

“The Work We Do” is a Riverhead News Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead.