Under The Hood: The Jobs That Make The Service Industry Work

by on Mar 30, 2016

By Drew Balstad
Photos by Paul Flessland

The booming service industry in Fargo-Moorhead has many moving parts that keep it running, and most consumers don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite establishments. From the guy who delivers the beer you’re drinking to the folks who keep the sidewalk clean, we decided to highlight a few people who are involved in the important parts of the service industry that you probably never think about.


AmeriPride Linen & Uniform Service

Andy Kays Ameripride

When a drink gets spilled in a bar or restaurant and gets quickly wiped up with a towel, you have Andy Kays to thank for that towel being there. Kays is a customer service representative for AmeriPride Linen & Uniform Services here in Fargo. His job includes sales and delivery of multiple products that enhance almost any business you go into, from bars and restaurants to dental offices and automotive shops.

Common deliveries include towels, linen, mop heads, uniforms, floor mats and rugs for doors. “I think half the time people just come in the door, wipe their feet and move on,” Kays said. “I don’t think a lot of people are thinking, ‘I wonder where that comes from,’ or ‘I wonder who does that.’”

But providing great service from behind the scenes is what his job is about.

“Usually you try to do the job where (a business’s) customers don’t see you,” said Kays. “It’s almost like a secret job. You don’t want anyone to know you’re doing it, but the stuff has got to get there.”

AmeriPride also provides embroidery and screen printing services, as well as disposable paper goods. “If you need it or want it, we can find a way to get it,” said Kays.

Part of doing his job at the highest level is trying to anticipate the needs of his customers before they need to ask for things. He keeps an eye on the weather during the changing seasons, and when it’s going to snow, he gets his customers extra rugs and mats before they have to ask, so their floors don’t get dirty before he gets there.

“The ultimate goal is to have them succeed so that you succeed,” Kays said. “There’s no reason to deliver mats or towels to bars when nobody’s going there. If it’s not clean, eventually they’re just going to close up.”

Largely, though, Kays takes pride in providing the best service to his customers he can. “You treat people with respect, and do the job they ask. Generally, people appreciate that,” said Kays. “I would say when I do my job, it’s not a front. I guess I’m just a happy-go-lucky person. I want to make sure everyone else is happy.”

AmeriPride By The Numbers:

  • Founded in 1989
  • Has operated in Fargo for 68 years
  • 100,000 gallons of water used per day
  • 65,000 pounds of washed products per day (towels, uniforms, mops, mats, linens, etc.)


Berseth Bros.

Joe Helton Bergseth Bros. kegs

When the common patron sits down to enjoy a pint of the finest lager an establishment has to offer, very little thought goes into how it got there from where it was brewed. The journey from brew kettle to glass is a long one, with a lot of moving parts. Fargo native Joe Helton is one of those important parts.

Helton is a delivery driver for Bergseth Bros., a local beer distributing company. He confessed that before he started delivering beer, he didn’t think much about how it got there. “I didn’t know anything about it. I’d just show up at a bar and say, ‘Hey, I’ll take this and be on my merry way,’” Helton said. “I didn’t even think twice about it. I didn’t think, ‘There’s somebody that brought this here and worked hard to do their job to get that here for us.’ There’s a whole long line of people who are working to make this happen.”

His role at Bergseth consists of driving a truck full of kegs, bottles and cans of his company’s products to all the different locations that sell them. On the face of it, it seems simple. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. On an average day, he’ll be making between 15-20 stops and hauling 50 cases of beer and up to 80 kegs per day.

“There’s no shortage of drinkers in this town,” Helton quipped. “It’s no secret this town loves to drink.”

The job, at times, can be dangerous, too. Helton has seen and experienced numerous injuries, ranging from smashed fingers and hands to broken toes of feet from kegs getting dropped on them. “Accidents definitely do happen,” Helton said. “You’ve got to be mindful of the surface you’re walking on. If it’s wet from staff working or if a previous delivery was made and it was raining outside. T here’s a lot of different factors.”

Helton said his day-to-day tasks don’t really change, but he never knows what to expect. “It’s the same thing, but it’s always different. When you come in, you always know what you’re going to be doing, where you’re going to be going on a particular day, but you don’t know if its going to be a big order or a small order,” Helton said. “Some days, I swear the kegs feel heavier.”

Helton emphasized that being a part of the beer industry is what he’s passionate about. “I really care about what I do. I feel like I’ve found my niche in life and it’s this industry,” Helton said. “I want the best for my accounts. I want them to be happy. I want them to know that I’m here and I care. I’m someone they can count on. I’m really lucky to be with a great and fantastic company, with Bergseth. It’s family-owned and-operated. You’re not a number. They care about you, and they want to be the best. It’s awesome being part of something great.”

Bergseth Bros. By The Numbers (Weekly Average):

  • 360 kegs of beer delivered
  • 1,000 cases of beer delivered
  • 80 stops
  • Roughly 70,000 pounds of beer delivered


Republic National Distributing

Jenni Carriveau Republic Distributing

When the newest flavor of your favorite liquor hits the shelves, it could very well be Jenni Carriveau that helped get it to your favorite local establishment. Carriveau is a premise sales representative for Republic National Distributing Company. “On premise” means that she deals with bars and restaurants or other places that don’t feature the option for off-sale liquor.

Originally from Fargo, Carriveau spent several years in the Bay Area working as a server, bartender and eventually manager of a restaurant. When she came back to Fargo, an opportunity to move to the distribution side of the industry came up.

“It intrigued me,” Carriveau said. “I could see myself doing three jobs: I’d want to own a restaurant, do real estate or do this. I like the struggles of it. I like working through all the problems.”

Having been on both sides of the industry, Carriveau is uniquely qualified to understand the needs of each establishment. “I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” said Carriveau. “I was a buyer before, so I know what they’re looking for. I know the pushbacks. You don’t just want to sell someone a product, you want them to be able to sell through it. Because you have to see them the next day. It’s not going to do anybody any good.”

With more than 50 accounts, Carriveau is on the road, in town, all day, making sure that each business has what it needs. Beside sales calls, there are many other aspects to the job. “It’s like a whole other job of being a deskworker, with all the extra hours of returning emails and phone calls,” Carriveau said. “Plus, getting coasters, posters and accessories for all the different accounts. There’s a lot of organization that is needed.”

But the best part of the job, Carriveau said, is the relationships she’s formed with the people she gets to interact with. “The longer you’ve been in the business certainly helps. You have to build those relationships,” said Carriveau. “If you trust me, then you’re going to trust what I’m saying. You’re going to trust that this product is going to work for you. I like going to different places and getting that relationship and helping businesses. It’s fun to help grow people’s businesses with them.”

Republic National Distributing By The Numbers:

  • Sells wine from 15 different countries
  • Sells around 100 cases of wine/liquor in a slow month
  • Sells around 400 cases of wine/liquor in a busy month


Business Improvement District (BID)

Tammy Cromwell BID downtown fargo

If you’ve ever been downtown in Fargo for an event or parade and noticed how clean the streets were, Tammy Cromwell was the one out there with a broom and dustpan making sure it looked that way.

Cromwell had been cleaning all her life, so when she was hired full time in 2014 at the Business Improvement District (BID), she knew she had found a job she would excel at.

The BID is an 85-block district where commercial property owners are assessed to make their neighborhoods better by going beyond the basic services provided by the city. The BID boundaries extend from the Red River to University Drive and from the base of Island Park to the Sanford Health campus. When they see her on the streets, sweeping or picking up trash, a lot of people think that she works for the city, something that she is quick to correct. The BID is actually a public/private partnership involving the Downtown Community Partnership and the City of Fargo.

Each day, Cromwell patrols the streets, broom and dustpan in hand, cleaning up any trash or debris that has accumulated. “You name it, I’ve picked it up,” Cromwell said.

Common things she finds are wrappers, broken bottles, gum or the remnants from people who have gotten sick. And, of course, cigarette butts. “(People) throw it right beside the garbage can,” said Cromwell.

Aside from the daily cleaning, Cromwell’s job has her doing detail work that improves the overall aesthetic of Downtown Fargo. She paints the light poles, maintains the numerous planter beds and power washes the sidewalks. She also maintains and waters the hanging flower pots during the summer. During the winter, the BID is in charge of the LED lights that adorn downtown.

Though Cromwell is the BID’s only full-time employee, in the summer, and during other high volume times, she gets some part-time people to help out.

“It’s not an easy job, per se. You have to have a certain attitude to do this job,” Cromwell said. “It’s not for everybody. It’s not hard. We got deadlines, but we just need to work together to get it done. I wouldn’t make someone do something that I wouldn’t do.”

Overall, Cromwell takes pride in what she does and is dedicated to her work. “I’ve been brought up to do your job the best that you can, whether you like it or not,” Cromwell said. “And I got the opportunity to do this, so I’m going to do it the best that I can. I just happen to enjoy doing it.”

BID By The Numbers (In Downtown Fargo):

  • 110 flower baskets
  • Roughly 103,000 LED winter lights
  • 32 trash cans
  • 26 benches