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10 Questions with Mandy Mills

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(l-r) Matt Jackson listens as Mandy Mills discusses her journey from Muncie, Indiana, to FabACab in NYC.

Your author takes the opportunity to meet with FabACab’s Mills and discuss her life and career in the elevator industry.

We meet so many different people through the course of our careers, it’s inevitable that we sometimes look back and ask why we didn’t take the opportunity to meet this or that person, or — better yet — take the time to sit down with someone and have a truly interesting conversation. For me, one of those people is FabACab’s East Coast Sales Representative Mandy Mills (MM). Your author (MJ) met Mills several years ago at a National Association of Elevator Contractors convention, and would catch up with her at many an Elevator Conference of New York meeting. Even though I’d seen her so many times, I never really got to know her and learn how she became a part of our growing industry. I finally got my chance to sit down with her for an installment of ELEVATOR WORLD’s “10 Questions.” Full disclosure, Mills and I were supposed to meet about a year ago, but this little situation called COVID-19 got in the way. We finally met in early June at the Time Warner Center in NYC, and had a great time catching up.

MJ: Instead of asking you how you got here, let me phrase it this way: What’s a girl from Muncie, Indiana, doing in NYC?

MM: I played clarinet in the high school band, and during my freshman year, we did a big fundraiser to go on a trip anywhere the class wanted to visit from a choice of three places: Jamaica, Chicago, or NYC. We chose NYC. I instantly fell in love with it, and knew that I probably had to live here one day.

MJ: Before we get into the elevator stuff, what was your life like growing up in Indiana?

MM: I had an awesome life growing up in Indiana. I lived on a 20-acre farm with my parents and two sisters, along with our many animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, goats and a big cow. I spent a ton of time outdoors, playing in the barns and corn fields that surrounded our house. My sisters and I always had great bonfires with our classmates, and those are some of my fondest memories. We also had these huge cherry trees in our barn lot, and every summer, we would hand-pick the cherries, pit them and my parents would bake delicious cherry pies.

MJ: How did a young woman make it from Muncie to the elevator industry?

MM: To be honest, I never imagined I would ever be involved with the elevator industry. My degree is in travel public relations (PR). Two years into my first PR job in Manhattan, we merged with a much bigger PR firm, and I was laid off. I wasn’t quite sure what my next move would be. Then a few weeks later, my best friend and FabACab President Josh Anderson approached me about launching our East Coast territory. It sounded like an amazing opportunity, so I jumped at the offer. That was about six and a half years ago.

I love the people in our industry. We are always learning from each other and striving to help each other succeed.

MJ: What is FabACab like, and how is your relationship with the owners?

MM: FabACab was created with the mission of offering a more streamlined and efficient approach to cab interiors. I think the fact that we are a smaller, family-run company is an asset to our customers because we can really support them in a way that most other vendors can’t. I know each of the four owners, and they all bring a unique and valuable contribution to the organization. I appreciate them all, especially the Anderson family. I went to school with Josh Anderson from kindergarten through college. Being great friends and growing up with him, he and his parents, Mike and Lisa Anderson, became like family to me. Josh’s parents also own and operate our sister company, MetalArt, which produces all of our metal products. Their outlook on business really set the stage for how FabACab operates today.

Another one of the owners, Bobby Haskett, also serves as our director of sales. Bobby has become a great mentor of mine and leads our sales team with immense knowledge and dedication. Bobby also happens to be Josh’s brother-in-law, so FabACab truly is a small, family business. 

MJ: Who have been your mentors in life, not just in the elevator industry?

MM: The biggest mentor in my life is my mom, Sally Mills. She and I became extremely close during my dad’s multiple battles with cancer. She is the strongest woman I know, and she has taught me to be strong and always take the high road in life. Another great mentor is my second-grade teacher, Stephanie Minnick Wilson. She taught me to always strive to do exactly what I wanted to do in life and to let my intuition guide me. She and I are still close.

MJ: Since you’ve been living in NYC for the last nine years, have you taken a chance to enjoy the city and see museums, restaurants or Broadway? And, how has COVID affected you?

MM: For the first year or two, I would go to a different bar or restaurant in Manhattan after work, so I made sure to try as many new things as possible. I adore all of NYC’s main attractions, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, and have been to both many times. I especially love the New York Philharmonic, the NYC Ballet and Broadway, and always try to see at least two performances and shows of each, every year. Recently, the New York Botanical Garden and Wave Hill in the Bronx have become favorite spots, as well.

I’d say the biggest obstacle I experienced was the huge learning curve involved with going from travel PR to elevator interiors. I had to learn quickly and think strategically to develop our entire East Coast customer base from scratch.

I would consider myself a social butterfly, so not having these activities during COVID was definitely hard to adjust to. Thankfully, some places, like Lincoln Center and the Irish Repertory Theatre, had digital performances, which allowed me to at least enjoy them from home.

MJ: What has it been like working in a big city that is challenged by a global pandemic?

MM: I think I am one of the lucky ones whose actual daily work routine was not too drastically affected, but I ended up leaving NYC and hunkered down back home in Indiana from March through July of last year. I worked from home anyway, so it was already very natural to me. The only real significant change was not being able to physically see my customers, which I did greatly miss. I am very grateful to be vaccinated and out and about seeing everyone again!

MJ: You and I have had a chance to talk about how the number of women employed in the elevator industry is growing every year. Would you recommend the industry to a fellow Ball Stater who may be graduating in the next year or two?

MM: Absolutely! I feel very connected to Ball State University, my alma mater, similar to the way I feel connected in the elevator industry. The university’s current motto, “We Fly,” could also apply here. I love the people in our industry. We are always learning from each other and striving to help each other succeed.

MJ: Were there any obstacles in your career path?

MM: I’d say the biggest obstacle I experienced was the huge learning curve involved with going from travel PR to elevator interiors. I had to learn quickly and think strategically to develop our entire East Coast customer base from scratch.

MJ: Finally, name three dinner guests you would want to sit down and have a conversation with.

MM: First would be Grace Kelly (Princess of Monaco). I love her movies and think she was just such an elegant and classy woman. Second would be Emma Bunton (Baby Spice of the Spice Girls). She has such an enthusiasm and optimism for life. I think we would have a lot in common to talk about. Third would be Liam Neeson. He is a fabulous actor, and he’s Irish, which would automatically make for great conversation.

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