Evelyn Acton leaves an impressive legacy here at ACS. She was hired in 1998 to be the first manager of the newly established Advantage Support Center and has spent the past 16 years enhancing and fine-tuning that department. She has provided leadership and trained more than a dozen support analysts and personally provided support--and friendship--to nearly every Advantage client over those years.
Nikki Lorenz of Kalmbach Publishing has known Ev since the beginning. “Back when Ev started with ACS, there really was no 'Support Center,'” explains Nikki. “While ACS did an adequate job of supporting clients then, Ev has built a well-oiled support organization from the ground up. I don’t think she quite attained the 'perfect world' she strives for, but she has certainly championed an operation she can be proud of.”
Nikki goes on to say: “Over the years, I’ve enjoyed working very closely with Ev, not only in her role as manager of the Support Center, but also as our Account Manager. I’m quite sure it hasn’t always been easy – or pleasant – on her part but she always manages to keep a smile on her face (or in her voice) while working through whatever the issue is. Ev kindly refers to me as a “purist” as I fight tooth and nail for ACS to make every detail of the software perfect. She really tries to understand the client’s perspective and support our needs while also keeping ACS’ interests at heart.”
“I’ve also had the pleasure of serving on the AUG Steering Committee with Ev for many years,” adds Nikki. “As with the Support Center, she organized things so well that the next person will have a much easier time. But it certainly will never be the same without Ev, with whom we’ve all been able to forge a true friendship.
Ev is the quintessential “mother hen” in the sense that she always makes sure that everyone and everything are being taken care of. I’m quite sure she’ll be more than happy to shift that focus entirely to her family in retirement but ACS clients – myself included – will very much miss her indulgent care. I wish her every happiness.”
A tenacious and dedicated advocate for both clients and her staff, Ev has been responsible for initiating a host of successful programs and policies. She says she is probably the proudest of the alert system that she worked to implement, which notifies clients of any identified issues with the particular revision of Advantage they are using. “This system really makes us partners with our clients,” says Ev. “They know we are working to give them the best information we possibly can to make all of our jobs easier.”
The alert system was born out of Ev’s dislike of repetition; she felt it was inefficient to handle calls from clients about an issue that had already been identified and fixed. Ev loves variety and the challenge of new problems to solve every day. Before coming to ACS, Ev was not one to stay for too long in any one place; she tended to take on a job and move on when she felt she was getting in a rut. That never happened at ACS—there was always something new and interesting for her to do.
She also started the webinar program--which she calls “mini, bite-sized training”—and it’s been consistently popular with clients, old and new.
When asked off the record if she had a favorite client, she said that honestly, there is someone she really appreciates at every client company. Ev gets along with everyone, and she delights in solving problems and helping people. Her supervisor, Greg Stout, says that Ev “has a finger in every pie” at ACS and with clients. She tends to know what is going on with clients because they have learned over the years that she is an excellent resource and call her immediately. Greg has nothing but praise for Evelyn: “It is difficult to imagine life at ACS without Evelyn; she has made such a significant impact. I could say a lot about Ev’s contributions to our business (which have been extensive) and to that of our many clients, but I prefer to reflect on her as a person. Without a doubt, Ev is one of the most generous people I know. She always see the best in others and maintains a positive outlook on life. With Ev, the glass is always much more than half full. These are traits that clearly translate to her work life, as I am sure many of our clients can attest. Evelyn has been a joy to work with and has certainly made my life easier over the years. It is always a plus when a co-worker becomes a friend.
There are many things I will miss about Evelyn, not the least of which is her booming and infectious laugh (…er, cackle). Whenever I hear that sound I know that all is well at ACS.”
At ACS, Ev has worked with a host of people to provide all the support required by the diverse mix of companies that use Advantage. She tends to get sent the escalated issues, and relies extensively on Linda Lorenz, Technical Support Manager, whom she calls the “Encyclopedia Brown” of ACS.
Ev has been the ACS representative to the AUG Steering Committee for years and has worked with many clients in that capacity. Eric Fishman of the American Psychiatric Association, has this to say: “I’ve had the great pleasure of working closely with Ev for the past three years on the Advantage User Group Steering Committee. Ev’s been our guide, our mentor, our historian, our north star, our record-keeper, and sometimes our nanny (giving gentle, but timely, reminders when things needed to be done)! But, most of all, Ev is a wonderful friend whose kindness and cheer lifts everyone around her. Ev’s dedication to the Steering Committee and to the success of each year’s AUG conference has made the year-round planning work for each conference a true pleasure. I know I’m not alone in saying I’ll miss hearing her voice on our planning calls. And, though I know we’re in good hands, somehow those AUG conferences just won’t be quite the same without her there.
I wish Ev as much happiness in her retirement as she’s given all of us who have had the joy of working with her over the years. Congratulations, Ev!”
The Committee presented Ev with a beautiful gold compass, with the inscription: "A journey is best measured in friends."
Other clients have similar messages for Ev. “It’s been great working with you for that past nearly 11 years,” says Heidi Waldkirch of The Taunton Press. “Your dedication to getting things done right has always been appreciated. We wish you all the best in your new career.”
From Shruti Kulkarni of the American Psychiatric Association: “I wish you a happy retirement. It was a wonderful experience working with you for so many years. I learned so many things from you and never felt that we had just a vendor - client relationship. I knew if I was in trouble, you were there to help. I’m so glad to have known you, and I wish you all the very best!”
Ev earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Michigan. She worked a number of jobs before coming to ACS, most recently at an accounting software firm where she also managed support. Another job required her to make sales calls to sell accounting software and then to install it and train users. Ev’s experience with business software goes back a long way.
Ev and her husband, Brian, live in Fenton, Michigan with their 2 dogs and 2 cats. They have three grown children—daughter Mary, mother of Catherine Rose, and her husband, Adam (the chef) who live nearby in Hartland, Michigan; daughter Kristen, who lives with her husband, Robert, about an hour away, and son Matt, who is an architect living in Rancho Mirage, California.
If you thought Ev was active at work, wait until you hear what she has planned for retirement. An avid gardener, Ev is going to take the Master Gardener class for both flower and vegetable gardening; she plans to learn all she can about canning fruits and veggies; she is going to learn to tap maple trees and make syrup this spring, and will press apples and make cider in the fall. Perhaps her most anticipated activity, however, will be to have regular time with her new granddaughter, Catherine Rose, who lives nearby. And in her spare time, she will do more cooking with her chef son-in-law.
Ev, all of us in the Advantage family wish you many happy years of retirement. You will be missed!