Finding New Ways to Give Back: Meet Darla Portz
When Darla Portz first walked through CEC’s doors in May 2004, she didn’t have much sales or technology experience. Until that time, she had been a social worker at United Action for Youth, serving young people and their parents. But she had been feeling a pull to give back to the community in a different way—she just wasn’t sure how.
She joined CEC’s team to work on service contracts, but she shifted to direct sales just a few months later. Because sales was a new career path for her, she didn’t know the best way to approach it—so she got in her car, stopped at businesses, and dropped off information and set up meetings. Because of her background in social work, she quickly found that healthcare sales was a natural fit. As a result, her CEC sales career eventually became focused exclusively on healthcare.
Meet CEC Healthcare Sales Executive Darla Portz!
Q: What makes you most excited about working at CEC?
Our people and our customers. I love working with people who are passionate about what they do and really care about the customer experience. The proof is in the pudding—but I like to say “putting” because the effort you put in to maintain relationships isn’t like a light you can turn on and off. Building relationships and trust takes many years. A lot of the customers we work with are like family. Helping them change the way they do things for the better has been really exciting.
Q: How did COVID-19 change what you were doing for CEC customers?
It’s amazing what our customers have been through over the past two years. When other people were staying home and hunkering down, Healthcare Systems Engineer Scott Brumwell and I were out on COVID-19 floors doing surveys. Business didn’t slow down, so we rolled up our sleeves to be right there with our customers. Everyone was trying to figure out the right thing to do and taking care of their patients, visitors, and staff. One minute they’re planning for a surge. The next minute, things are completely locked down, and we’re trying to figure out how we’ll get our people in there to safely install a system they need.
I call 2020 “the year of the hustle.” We did what we had to do to meet our customers’ needs and not create more work for them. In many cases, we didn’t even need to have people onsite. We could utilize Wi-Fi and our IT experience to do programming that could be boxed and shipped as needed.
Q: Is there a CEC initiative you’ve been involved with that you’re especially proud of?
Our volunteer experiences and pulling people together to give back to our communities is something I’m very proud of. One of the things we’ve been doing the past two years is working at the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank. CEC works within these communities, so being able to give back to them is pretty profound.
There were people within CEC who had never volunteered before. After they spent time there, they wanted to keep doing it. Paying it forward is contagious. It’s not about just getting the business—it’s about giving back.
Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love CEC; I feel like I’ve grown up with it. I work with such great people, like Scott Brumwell. I can’t imagine doing this job without him. That comradery and working with people who are so incredibly dedicated and have the customers’ best interests in mind make me proud to be part of this company.
Q: How does a typical day play out for you at CEC? What are you responsible for?
My day starts early by checking email and then checking in with people to track where we’re at with projects. I have between five and 10 conversations going with different customers throughout each day. I also spend lots of time on the road, traveling to see customers. Those are the best days—I get to be onsite and hand in hand with our customers.
Q: What’s a fun/interesting fact about you that most people don’t know?
I bleed black and gold. I’m a huge Hawkeye fan! I’m a first-generation graduate, so I’m really proud that my son is the second generation. We’re hoping our granddaughter will be the third, carrying on that tradition. She just turned six, and she’s the love of our lives. We spend every football Saturday together. Those Saturdays are like national holidays to us.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
Enjoying time with family. We love water activities and going back home to Okoboji to go boating.
Q: If you could do one other job at CEC for a day, what would it be?
HR and recruiting. I love working with and getting to know people. I would enjoy meeting new people and finding out if they’re the right fit. It would be exciting to find that connection, be able to promote the company, and win new employees over.