When many people think of Christenson Cleaning and Restoration, they think of Karen Jacupke.
When they call on the phone, it’s her happy voice they hear. When they walk in the door, it’s her friendly face they see. Customers, employees and applicants all pass by her desk as they enter the business.
If the bustling office of Christenson Cleaning and Restoration sometimes seems like Grand Central Station, Karen is happy to be the stationmaster.
“I can’t think of a better person than Karen to be speaking with our customers every day in the front office,” said Charlie Christenson, who runs the business with his father, Eric. “She has a very bubbly personality and loves to joke around.
“I thoroughly enjoy walking into the office every morning knowing Karen will greet me with a big smile and a ‘Good morning!’”
Karen, who readily agrees that she’s a people person, loves being the first point of contact for the business.
“It just comes so naturally to me,” she said. “That’s why it doesn’t seem like work.”
Karen’s business card lists her job as customer relations, but she handles a wide variety of tasks. She answers phones, set appointments and performs clerical duties. Her good rapport with customers means she’s often the one to handle any special concerns they may have.
In fact, many customers feel like they’re talking to an old friend and even invite Karen out for coffee.
She calls Merry Maids customers the night before to remind them of their appointment and handles customer satisfaction calls after the job. If something wasn’t 100 percent to a customer’s liking, she wants them to tell her.
“I hope I make them comfortable doing that,” she said.
She’s always happy to pitch in where needed around the office.
“If anyone else needs something done, I’ll do it,” she said.
Karen came on board with Christenson Cleaning and Restoration in 2017 when the successful company was growing by leaps and bounds, but she puts a lifetime of experience into her job.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, so I know a lot of people,” Karen said of the Hastings community.
Karen lost her husband, Jay, a prominent local businessman, 22 years ago. She counts herself fortunate that she could continue being a stay-at-home mom until her youngest son was 16 and driving.
Her older son, Ryan; daughter, Jenna; and the youngest, Jordan, are all grown and well along on their own successful careers, but the many years of getting them to school, sports and other activities required a lot of juggling.
“I figured that I had spent 32 years in the bleachers by the time my youngest son was done with college football at Morningside,” she said. “And I loved every single second of it!”
Karen worked at local banks and an optical shop before joining Christenson Cleaning and Restoration.
“I’ve met some very nice people,” she said.
And her ability to juggle multiple responsibilities has certainly come in handy.
With Merry Maids, carpet cleaning and commercial janitorial, Christenson Cleaning and Restoration is like three businesses in one. Associating the right customer with the right service and “trying to keep a balance there” make her job challenging, Karen said.
“You have to be pretty organized to make that run smoothly,” she said.
But the mother of three and grandmother of four takes it all in stride.
“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere here,” Karen said. “They’re super people to work for.”
She also admires the Christenson attention to quality.
“They’re the kind of people who’ll do it right,” Karen said.
They follow up to make sure everything has been done to the customer’s satisfaction, and if it hasn’t, they’ll keep going back until every concern is addressed.
“They just stand behind everything they do,” she said.
Knowing that the company cares that much makes her feel like doing her own job well really matters, Karen said.
“I’m working for an A+ company.”