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This profile was last updated on 5/26/13  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Employment History

  • President
    ABC Phones Inc
  • President and Chief Executive Officer
    ABC Phones of NC, Inc

Board Memberships and Affiliations

Web References
Wireless Business Owners Consortium (WiBOC) - Advisory Board, 27 May 2010 [cached]
Rich Balot ABC Phones
WiBOC - Wireless Business Owners Consortium, 5 Jan 2006 [cached]
Special thanks to Rich Balot of ABC Phones for sharing his experiences with WiBOC
Rich Balot owns ABC Phones -- a dynamic 9-year-old company in North Carolina that has now grown to 30 retail locations and over 100 employees.His stores sell wireless phones, pagers, satellite TV, and related items.
Rich was frustrated with continuing theft, lateness and sick time among his employees.Then, on an airline flight, Rich read an article that described how a company-implemented drug testing program had successfully cut into such problems.He decided to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy and enforce it through mandatory drug testing of current and future employees.
Developing a Plan
He made his plans, then implemented them.
Rich did not find local drug testing companies helpful in developing an employee program, so he came up with his own approach:
He made sure that the laws in his state allowed employer drug testing -- since he definitely did not want any potential law suits. (Some states only allow testing for certain jobs, like safety-related positions.)
He investigated costs and he learned that on-site "oral fluids" testing was cheaper than the alternatives.Oral testing of the inner cheek could be administered by his own employees on the job with little time loss.The alternatives (including hair or urine analysis) often involve leaving work, or the use of professionals to administer.
Rich contacted a local drug rehab facility, confirmed that his insurance policy covered any employees seeking help, learned about local AA and NA programs, and prepared to offer that information to his employees.
The Program
Rich announced his Zero Tolerance drug policy.He explained that everyone working for the company would be tested for illegal drugs without exception (including himself) and that all future new hires would receive mandatory drug tests.He gave 45 days notice.His idea was to give anyone using recreationally time to voluntarily quit.He actually didn't start testing for 60 days.He personally picked key employees to administer the tests.He said chose the ones he was "fairly certain would test negative" including his warehouse manager, HR personnel, a company trainer, etc.He sent them for brief training and certification in the testing techniques (swabbing and sealing results in tamper-resistant envelopes).Then one day, sixty days after his initial announcement, the whole workforce was told, as they arrived for work, that they would all be tested that day.Rich thought that employees were most likely to do drugs on weekends after payday, so he picked a Monday after payday to do the testing.That way, he reasoned, he could identify as many users as possible (including especially those who were recreational weekend users).On the day of the test, employees were given a clear choice: either take the test or sign a letter of resignation.He quickly scheduled follow-up testing for any employees who missed the group test because of vacation or personal days.As part of the test, employees were asked to list prescription drugs they were taking.In case of a "positive" test, the drug testing company then contacted the employee's doctor to confirm that the drug was being taken legally.Rich then waited another 60 days and repeated entire process.He started an ongoing program random drug testing -- where 10 percent of the staff is tested every other month.
Unexpected issues:
Rich says that two things greatly surprised him:
The number of people actually testing positive was much greater than Rich had expected.And the people who tested positive were not all poor employees.Rich notes that "Many of our top reps tested positive for marijuana."One of his managers was terminated after testing positive for cocaine.There was significant opposition to the plan, including from some people who were (from all appearances) not taking drugs.Rich said: "It was amazing the number of emails I received from 'concerned' staff members who actually tested negative" who saw the tests as an invasion of privacy.Rich writes: "This was a MAJOR staff morale issue.It brought morale WAY DOWN.Staff complaints ranged from we don't trust them to its none of our business what they do on their own time to 'I don't want to give you my DNA.'" (The oral technique using cotton swabs proved to be controversial because it is the same technique used to take DNA samples in criminal cases.)
An Adjustment
Faced with these issues, Rich decided to press ahead with his policy, but to make a major adjustment.He decided not to immediately fire employees who testing positive for marijuana.
Rich describes how one of his top sales reps came up to him on the day of the test and said she had smoked pot over the weekend in a one-time event and would test positive if she took the test.She had been one of his very highest producers, and he did not want to lose her.
Instead, Rich offered a special six-month "deal" to current employees who tested positive for marijuana:
Business Beat: Fitness, athletics at the core for Mattison, 27 Jan 2006 [cached]
Rich Balot is president of ABC Phones.
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