Ken Goodman has worked with a lot of advertising representatives in his 52 years in the furniture and clothing retail business. He knows that Brenda Dennis was special.
Dennis is retiring from her job of display advertising sales representative at The Richmond County Daily Journal after more than 37 years of service. She started work at The Daily Journal on Oct. 1, 1976. Today is her last day.
At the age of 31, Dennis began her newspaper career in accounting, then moved to classified advertising — a department which she managed — and later moved over to display advertising.
“She did a terrific job,” said Goodman, who worked at, owned and operated R.W. Goodman Co. in downtown Rockingham for more than five decades. “I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated ad representative. She took good care of me.”
Dennis, who through this past weekend has remained among the earliest to arrive at the office, among the last to leave and one of the few willing to work seven days a week, said there wasn’t one particular thing that made her decide now. It was simply time.
“It was a hard decision,” Dennis said. “I just felt like it was the best thing for me to do (and) give somebody else a chance.”
Throughout her time at the Journal, customer service, she said, was always “the No. 1 priority.” Debra Parsons, at Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties in Rockingham, believes that to be true.
“She was proud of our company, too,” Parsons said at Dennis shared employees’ aspirations and worked to meet their goals. “When we opened (four years ago), she was one of our first visitors. She became our friend.”
Parsons said it was the “little things” that made Dennis stand out, such as showing a proof of the ad, in person, before the ad went to press.
“She wanted us happy with it,” Parsons said.
As in any newspaper, there are errors. That’s also true for the advertising section. Even when things weren’t printed perfectly, Parsons said she knew Dennis was “fighting for us.”
When the business opened up four years ago, the Coldwell Banker office wasn’t in Dennis’ territory. That didn’t matter to Parsons.
“We requested her,” Parsons said. “We knew she would take good care of us.”
Dennis said the job has changed over the years. Many of her customers work through ad agencies to submit camera-ready ads — which helps to take a bit of the pressure off of her and decreases the chances for mistakes. Ads for the web-based platform also changed the industry.
Selling for the web, in an environment where page views, impressions and click-throughs were new terminology, required a focused determination for a successful transition.
“That was something entirely new,” Dennis said. “It took a while” for me to catch on.
For Dennis, though, it always came back to customer service —no matter where the ad was placed.
If a customer’s son or daughter married, “take them a couple extra papers,” Dennis said. “That makes a big impression on them.”
It was an approach not lost on her bosses at work.
“She always did her best to make sure her advertisers were taken care of,” said Rick Bacon, former Journal publisher. “We all will miss her smiling face and her ability to find the right advertising plan for each customer.”
In her retirement, Dennis doesn’t expect to sit home and do nothing. She’s not that sort of person.
“I’m sure I will miss the people and sure I’ll miss my time here,” Dennis said. “Sometimes. It was a hard decision.”
Still, “I don’t want to sit home and do nothing,” she said. “For so many years, I’ve been much more active than that. I would like some days I don’t have to get up at 5 o’clock and get ready to go to work.”