“We don’t do business with companies. We do business with people.” U.S. HealthTek lives and thrives by Simon Sinek’s quote – it’s really the core of our business. In that spirit, we periodically highlight our team members to let clients get to know the people behind our company.
Keri Thomson is U.S. HealthTek’s Operations Manager, and her journey to this position could definitely not have been predicted. She was born and raised in the sleepy L.A. suburb of Sunland, a northwest town nestled in the mountains with lots of parks. “My family goes all the way back to grandparents on both sides living here,” she says. Like both of them, she went to Verdugo Hills High School. (You likely would recognize this school as it’s the location of many movies including Christine, River’s Edge, Heathers, and Better Off Dead). College was followed by “just going to work everywhere.” During this period, she enjoyed a wide range of diverse experiences including everything from getting a pest control license to working for a CPA firm.
That Bottom Rung
In 1997, she landed at Abex Display Systems, a manufacturer of trade show exhibits from little pop-ups to large custom high-end displays for big companies. Her timing here was initially good because the trade show biz in the late 90’s was booming; but her rise up the ladder was eventually paused by 9/11. The company downsized, but because this happened just as she and her husband welcomed their first child, Abbey, in 2002, she decided to stop working to focus on her family. 2004 brought number two, Shelby, and she eventually went back to Abex part time. She thought she was done having kids when in 2011 Camryn came along “starting the baby thing all over again!”
In 2014, a connection recommended her for a position at a Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute in Santa Clarita. “It was in the referral testing department, but because I didn’t have a college degree, I started at the bottom in an entry level position,” she says with a laugh. Her husband, confident in her ability to master anything, predicted that within two years she’d practically be running the place. She rolled her eyes and commenced at the data entry gig.
This lab did not deal in the routine urine analysis and similar testing, but focused on high-end esoteric testing that required specialty equipment. At the end of that first week, unaware that this would be the beginning of a long, successful career in the medical lab field, she only knew she couldn’t do data entry one more keystroke. It just so happened that at this moment the person managing their biggest referral testing client, Quest Diagnostics San Juan Capistrano, left. Thomson got that important position. “About a year later, I found out Quest was doing a nation-wide LIS system conversion.” She then was promoted to assist in that transition for the Valencia facility.
So, within two years, she had, as her husband predicted, achieved a high-level position in the medical lab field. No word if there were any “I told ya so”s being uttered in her household, though there was this: “I hated admitting he was right!” The work gave her deep knowledge of the intricacies of lab information exchanges, which made her well-poised for her next career jump.
A Family Feel
In 2019, she was offered the position of Operations Manager for the fast-growing U.S. HealthTek. “Keri Thomson is a tremendous asset to how we serve our clients,” says Cristy Reiter, President/CEO. “Everyone enjoys working with her! Besides her positive attitude, attention to detail and caring personality, she is a ton of fun. She is a fantastic addition to U.S. HealthTek.” Working closely with Reiter, she keeps the company on track handling payroll, invoicing, and all HR aspects. As the company grows, so does her responsibilities, which is more than fine by her.
“I’ve worked for some great companies, but they never felt like a family,” Thomson says. “At one place I was literally an employee number. I was given a lot of opportunity there which I’m grateful for, and I was successful … but then you come to work with for a company like U.S. HealthTek and you feel so much more. They do a good job handling their people. Robert [Negosian] guides people here so well – he shares his knowledge and is a mentor to all of us. Cristy truly and honestly cares about her employees and supports all of us putting family first.”
Though the company was designed from the beginning to be a virtual office with employees spread across the country working from their own homes, during COVID Thomson and Reiter worked to organize special virtual events. One involved arranging for shipments of cocktail mixers and snacks so they could zoom happy hours together – including one that mandated wearing that ugly Christmas sweater. At another point, they all hung out at a virtual resort and “hopped” on a boat.
“It’s just different here – I feel valued and respected,” Thomson adds. “It’s really a wonderful place.”