Executive Assistant is “Uniquely Invaluable” at Growing Real Estate Services Provider
PARSIPPANY, NEW JERSEY – March is Women’s History Month – a period to highlight the contributions of women in society. At Planned Companies, Susan Gessler is one of the cornerstones of New Jersey’s fastest-growing real estate services providers. The company operates in 11 states across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, San Francisco and Southern regions.
In an organization with 4,300 associates, Susan keeps things moving smoothly. Gessler’s official title is Executive Assistant, though her contributions, by all accounts, make her one of the most respected and valuable employees at Planned Companies.
“I learned early on, it isn’t enough to be indispensable,” said Susan. “You have to be uniquely indispensable and be the type of teammate that no one can do without having. Along the way, I have learned how to become a well-rounded employee who does whatever is necessary to make things run smoothly.”
“Susan does so much to help so many people at this company,” says Planned Companies CEO Robert Francis. “She is so valuable to our entire team. She knows the inner workings of Planned Companies so well and has a wonderful way with connecting with people, which goes a long way in a customer service industry like ours. Her ability to link our teams to what they need across the company in a quick, logical and effective way is unmatched.”
It Started As a Temp Job
Susan’s career at Planned Companies began in 2005, and in the ensuing 16-year period, the company has grown exponentially through and increase in numbers of clients and an ever expanding list of services – maintenance, concierge/front desk and security as well janitorial, the hallmark service Planned Companies was founded on.
When Susan arrived to work at Planned, the company was much smaller and very much a mom-and-pop company, based in small office space above a bank branch in Essex County.
Susan herself was in a state of transition, having left two different New Jersey universities. “I tried studying elementary education and psychology,” Sue says. “I even thought about cosmetology school. There was something about Planned Companies that just felt right. I liked working here and I did well at the jobs I was assigned.”
Right Place at the Right Time
Though she did not realize it at the time, Sue’s timing worked in her favor.
Robert Francis, the great grandson of the company founder, had taken over as CEO shortly before Sue arrived. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, Francis was implementing formal corporate practices into Planned. Dino Iuliano, now Planned’s Chief Revenue Officer, had joined the company in 2003 as Vice President and added Security and Lifestyle Services to the company’s menu of offerings.
Business was booming – and Sue’s organizational skills helped keep things moving smoothly.
“I worked closely with both Rob and Dino and got to learn the inner workings of the company that way,” Sue says. “It forced me to be on my ‘A’ game.”
Sue also realized that she was one of the few women in a heavily dominated male industry. Fortunately, she found a kindred spirit in Marjorie Francis – Rob’s mother and wife of previous CEO, Michael Francis.
“Marjorie is a real strong woman, who stands up for herself and doesn’t take any guff from the men,” Sue said. “She set an example for me and showed that I could kick butt too, if that was needed to get something done.”
Running Things at Home, too
Susan balances her work for Planned Companies with her responsibilities as a mother to her 8-year-old son, Stephen.
“The same skills I employ to help keep things running smoothly at the company are the ones I use at home, too,” said Susan, who lives in Little Falls, New Jersey. “Even when it is a tough day at work, I know I have to stay strong at home. It can seem like a lot at times, but we make it work.”
When other younger women and single moms join Planned Companies, often Susan is the person who provides support and mentorship.
“In a male-dominated industry, women must support other women,” Susan says. “Glass ceilings are breaking down every day, and we must lift each other up and help each other succeed.”
The Pandemic Made a Tough Job Tougher
Susan Gessler’s job was always busy. Then came the pandemic – and the work at Planned increased immeasurably.
As an essential company, Planned Companies had 4,100 associates who could not work from home. Personal protective equipment needed to be acquired and distributed. Client buildings needed to be cleaned and disinfected. Webinars were scheduled to help industry partners cope with the changes that were happening in the world.
Through it all, Susan has persevered. “We don’t know how Sue Gessler does what she does,” Iuliano says. “But we are really glad she is on our team. She is a Superwoman.”
Part of a Growing Corporation
During her career at Planned Companies, the company has expanded tremendously. No longer are headquarters on the second floor of a bank branch. Planned Companies is now based in a sprawling corporate building in Parsippany. The current building, in addition to serving as a base of corporate operations, houses a 2,000 square foot training facility to educate new associates on best practices.
The company currently serves more than 1,000 residential and commercial properties – a number that may jump immeasurably as the company expands its territories across the Southeast regions.
Through it all, Susan Gessler has a large hand in almost every area of the company.
“Sue is such a special colleague to so many of us at Planned” Francis said. “I am so proud to call her a coworker and a friend.”
More information about Planned Companies can be found at www.PlannedCompanies.com.
About Planned Companies
With more than 100 years and four generations of experience, Planned Companies has become one of the fastest growing and most respected real estate service providers within the industry. Planned provides industry leading janitorial, maintenance, concierge/front desk and security services to a wide array of clients across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, San Francisco and the Southern regions to over 1,000+ residential, corporate, commercial and retail properties. For more information on Planned Companies, call 1-888-706-8600 or visit www.PlannedCompanies.com.