On October 30, 2001 I started my first full-time job working at local, family owned and operated furniture retailer: Cardi's Furniture & Mattresses and the RI Design Center. I was originally hired to work in their call center and warehouse. I was in that position for about 3 months when I was asked to work a Bridal Expo. It was a fun event and within a few weeks I was given the opportunity to transition into a role of rebuilding the Promotions and Events department and from that moment, I never looked back!
While the role was fluid and always evolving the goal was simple: Get people, customers, into the showrooms. As the years past I was also given the chance to cover a variety of departments in times of need, for example: I covered the duties of NiRoPe Studios for weeks at a time while a fellow employee was out on maternity leaves. During a staff transition I temporarily became the webmaster for a summer. Fortunately I only crashed the website one time and more importantly- got it back online after I had accidentally deleted an evidently important bit of code. These opportunities broadened my views and enhanced my skills.
Other Components of My Job:
I attended & participated in hundreds of events all over Southern New England, worked with every major tv and radio station, and spoke to thousands of students at schools, colleges & universities. I’ve seen the most amazing displays of humanity in working with our non-profit and charitable partners: Ronald McDonald House Providence, Meeting Street, Operation Stand Down RI, RI State Police, Bill Belichick Foundation, The Light Foundation, Roger Williams Park Zoo, local chapters of Habitat For Humanity, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Bags Of Hope, AIDS Project RI, Family Service of RI, Crossroads RI, Heavenly Gingers, Adoption RI, H.M.E.A., People Inc., Y.M.C.A. of Greater Providence, E.S.G.R. RI, Mentoring RI and many more.
I worked with some of the most talented people in the arts and entertainment industry: The Stadium Theatre, Trinity Rep, Feld Entertainment, Goodwin Group PR, RDW Group, Newport Waterfront Events, RI Comic Con, The Artic Playhouse, RocJo Productions, Providence Performing Arts Center, South Coast Artists, and so many more!
Getting to work with brilliant people through the Cardi’s partnerships with local organizations like The Arpin Group, Ocean State Job Lot, Benny’s, Big Blue Bug Solutions, Shamrock Financial, Newport Creamery, McDonalds, Gara’s Mens Shop, Rhody Transportation, Shred It, Dunkin Donuts, The Pawtucket Red Sox, Hasbro, Amica, Rhode Island Monthly and many many more!
From time to time I was assigned some monster tasks including the organizing massive relief drives after both national and international weather catastrophes, facilitating the opening of 2 massive showrooms; I even managed to get all 3 owners into a meet and greet with the President of the United States in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. after being told only 1 would be granted access!
Perhaps my favorite role was being the liaison between our numerous community and non-profit partners. Cardi’s Furniture is hands down one of the most generous and caring organizations out there. Through donations of furniture & media support, they have contributed to the success of so many wonderful charitable groups that have provided and continue to provide support for tens of thousands of people each and every year. My own family got used to the fact that during the holidays I’d simply get them all gift-cards because I really didn’t have time to go shopping as I worked with my team to facilitate the annual US Marines Toys For Tots Drives. On all the events and drives we did over the past 15 years - I had some of the best people you could ever ask for working along side with me - my Promo Team. Those “kids" (young adults) made miracles happen for sure! I couldn’t have done any of this without them!
You want a good laugh? Well from time to time I would come up with commercial concepts & ideas.
Some of the ones that made it: Click to see the commercial
- “The World’s Most Comfortable Man” - A spinoff of the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man"
- “Mad Money” - A spoof on CNBC’s financial show with Jim Cramer
- “7th Inning Stretch” which can be seen at every PawSox Game at McCoy Stadium
- “Gangam Style”
- “The Ultimate RI Harlem Shake” featuring mascots from all over the state
- “Put A Spring On It” - Remake of Beyonce's "Put A Ring On It"
- “Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol”
- “NiRoPe Curling" (a winter olympic sport where nobody "rolled the 7" during warm-ups)
- “Friday Morning Ad Meeting” - We tried to break the internet like Kim K.
There are a number of others that did and did not make it to air!
(I really wanted to catapult a recliner with one of those giant pumpkin launchers... ya know "Same Day iDelivery")
Over the last few years there I took on the added role of media buyer, combining that with strategic planning and the implementation of Social Media Marketing. I got more into the numbers game of the advertising - fueling that passion that I’ve always had to see immediate results as well as long-term growth. The goal over the years never changed - I was simply doing different things to reach it by getting customers into the stores.
I was never afraid to work the extra hours or respond at all hours of the day and night to whatever situations arose - regardless if it affected my department or not. I remember one time around 11pm getting a call from the Director of Operations “Ben, you awake? A sprinkler broke in the racks in the Warehouse - how fast can you get over there?” I think we stayed until about 3 or 4am getting all that water mopped up. Mission Accomplished as it didn’t stop or even delay the trucks from leaving the docks on time to start making deliveries to customers. There are a number of stories like this that happened over my time,
An ongoing task was to help maintain the public profile & awareness of the owners of the company - Nick, Ron & Pete Cardi, or as they’re called in Southern New England - “NiRoPe". They have been a staple in Southern New England Media for many years and are of the Local Celebrity status here. Nick, Ron & Pete have been supportive of me and my family during the happy times as well as times of a family tragedy & loss. This past October while at a reception for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular even their Mom gave me the business, telling me “Ben, I heard the news! It’s about time you finally settled down and got married!” She certainly doesn’t hold back, and the youthful age of 94, why would she! Thank You, Nick, Ron, Pete & the entire Cardi family for each amazing opportunity!
I’ve made hundreds, perhaps thousands of friends in my time with Cardi’s. From the hard-working volunteers and staff at our non-profit partnerships, local & now national media personalities, business & community leaders, true professionals at the various TV & Radio stations on which we advertised, customers and so many more. Thank you all for making the last 15 years so fun!
Despite this being a long post, I know I have missed groups and organizations in this list and for that I am truly sorry. It does not minimize the impact that group has had on our community or in my life.
Please pardon the insanely cliche reference but as Green Day puts it “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life” Well Yes - I did have the time of my life, and the best part is: I’m only 35! I’ve got another whole life to make "it" happen - whatever “it” will be!
For now I’m applying a lesson I've learned from practicing yoga: I’m taking a few moments to breath & evaluate. I’ve been contacted by a number of people already and have begun the process of meeting with groups to see where I can help make the next biggest impact! Regardless - You’ll always be able to find me here online, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and the occasion #MakinSuppah episode on Facebook Live where I’ll make water boil - right before your very eyes!
Thanks for reading, friends. I'll keep you all posted as to what's next... so Stay Tuned!