Shannon Huggard's business card may read "circulation manager," but her duties at The Penticton Herald extend well beyond two words.
Born in Calgary, she moved with her family to Penticton when she was 10. She graduated from Pen-Hi and then earned a diploma in business administration from Okanagan College. She was well on her way to following in her father's footsteps, pursuing a teaching career, but changed directions late in the game when she was hired in retail for what was supposed to be a summer job.
"I loved working in retail, it was an avenue I decided to pursue and thought, 'teaching's not for me,'" she said.
She came to The Herald on March 23, 1992, starting as a receptionist before working her way up and eventually becoming the circulation manager at the daily newspaper.
"At the time, all of my predecessors were male and newspapers were a very male-dominated industry," she recalls. "But now it's probably closer to 50/50 men and women. In our office, we definitely have more women than men."
And now, with a tenure of nearly 27 years, there are still four others ahead of her in seniority at The Herald.
Her circulation duties include managing the drivers and carriers which number more than 125. Circulation is responsible for retail sales as well as delivery of the sister publication, Herald Extra. There are about 120 dealers from Summerland to Osoyoos and over to Keremeos. The circulation department is also responsible for promotion of the newspaper.
She manages many areas of the office and can be seen doing everything from unloading trucks to troubleshooting the computers to shoveling the sidewalks.
Each December, she donates time after hours to coordinate the Be An Angel campaign which, in the South Okanagan, benefits Valley First's Feed the Valley and the Salvation Army food bank. She serves as timer at all of The Herald's candidate forums.
"What I enjoy most about my job is I'm like a facilitator, I try and help facilitate everyone's success. My goal is always to provide good service to our advertisers, subscribers as well as our retailers and for the people who work here at the newspaper."
The Herald is well below industry standards for circulation complaints with a rating of 1.5 complaints per 1,000 deliveries, a rating most circulation managers can only dream of having. Huggard credits this to the phenomenal drivers and carriers, as well as her team at the front desk.
"We have our challenges like the big snow storms and road closures, but, for the most part, we have a fantastic and supportive subscriber base here. A lot of our subscribers are understanding of the challenges we have and we try to resolve any problems as quickly as possible."
The Herald is also one of the last remaining daily newspapers to have a live person answer the phone weekdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Many other papers go straight to voicemail. With a large senior population in Penticton, many customers prefer to pay their bills in person and consider the front office staff to be friends.
The circulation manager and office managers are often invisible positions to most customers — certainly not as high profile as the reporting staff. Huggard, on the other hand, is often recognized in public for her many years at The Herald.
"I went to school here. I loved my years at Pen-Hi. I'm out in the community, whether it's shopping here, doing chores here or going to a community event."
She also loves and believes in the product she sells. A day does not go by that she doesn't read The Herald and Okanagan Weekend cover to cover. In her cubicle, located in the far corner of the front office, she often tunes in Okanagan Valley Radio, the latest endeavour of Okanagan Newspaper Group.
"We are the hub of the community and we are providing a source of news and entertainment that's local and not available anywhere else," she concluded.