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1:1 with Founders

1:1 with Julie von Rohr

Julie von Rohr is SVP of Operations and Co-Founder of TOTUS

Let’s start with a brief intro about you:

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs with two brothers and various stray animals we brought home over the years.  I was fortunate to see so much of this country as we took our Griswold-esque road trips every summer to see monuments, national parks, oddities and wonders.  As a kid with annoying siblings trying to occupy the same bench back seat, I couldn’t appreciate the lessons learned and experiences shared until later in life.

But it was those childhood road trip adventures that led to a desire to experience cultures beyond the States.  I’ve always been drawn to Paris.  With a couple years of high school French and two previous European trips under my belt, I visited Paris for the first time.  I can’t describe how I felt but it is an extraordinary city that has welcomed me back year after year…  I hope to retire there and live out my days mastering the art of “flâner”.

After a brief stint at Iowa State, I transferred to UNLV in pursuit of a hospitality degree, taking full advantage of (almost) everything Las Vegas had to offer.  I experienced the beginning of the mega-resort era, Tarkanian’s Running Rebels, amazing local musical talent before hotel residencies were a thing, and the $.99 breakfast.  I also found a job at a small Las Vegas hotel reservation company.  Before Travelocity and Expedia’s existence, one had to call to book a room and Vegas was booming.  It was an exciting time.  Unfortunately, the company lost its footing as the internet booking sites took hold.  After nine years with an amazing team, we closed our doors.  This led to one of those life decisions.  I could move to Atlantic City for a tailor-made job, or head back to the Midwest for some unknown adventure.  I chose the latter and haven’t looked back.

How did you end up in the gift card industry? 

After a decade in Las Vegas (and extreme heat) I realized that I missed the climate and culture of the Midwest.  I was presented with an opportunity to return to the Chicago area to help a print distributor with their HR needs.  This led to overseeing their order fulfillment operation including Mobil’s Speedpass program.   Several years later, the business was acquired and I needed a new challenge. I found an intriguing job ad for a position with a gift card company called SVM (now Blackhawk Network).  Gift cards?  I wonder what goes into that operation.  Little did I know I’d found my calling.

I spent the next 15 years working with an amazing team at SVM, contributing to the transformation of the gift card industry. We witnessed the astronomical growth from a couple-hundred orders per day and an operations team of 10 to thousands of orders, millions of cards, and a team of over 40, all while maintaining our commitment to same day service and impeccable quality.

Why is white-glove service so important?

As technology advances and businesses come and go, excellent service is often lost.  We live in a do-it-yourself, immediate-results era, but businesses often forget the diversity of customers’ needs and expectations.  Just because we can automate it, doesn’t always mean we should.  There is a need for flexibility, a need for bespoke operations.  Customers want what they want in a manner they prefer.  That simple concept is often lost as businesses build systems and processes that serve themselves rather than the customer.  At TOTUS, we represent the brands we serve.  We represent the gift card holders.  We are here to give them the experience they want, the way they want it, in a manner that makes sense for everyone.

What is your personal objective for TOTUS?

My personal objective for TOTUS is simple yet difficult – do not get distracted.  Remain focused on our goals of bringing together and empowering the best team in the business; be innovative; question the status quo within the industry and build true partnerships with the brands we serve and the vendors we trust.

What defines the culture of TOTUS?

Inclusion, empowerment, and transparency.  Everyone has a voice in the conversation.  Experience is trusted and appreciated.  We are better together.