As VP of Consumable Sales at Four Seasons Sales & Service, Melissa Gallion assists more than 50 sales representatives of the distribution company’s sales department. Among her many duties is coaching her coworkers on the finer art of sales communication, which she enjoys. This is ironic, considering that Melissa describes herself as shy and sometimes crippled with insecurity. So how did someone so quiet and reserved become one who’s known for being happy, friendly and above all, willing to help her colleagues? ist Magazine had to find out…
Although initially shy, Melissa Gallion is a strong yet sensitive person on whom many people can rely, and often do.
From an early age, Melissa Gallion was a shy girl who at times felt awkward and out of place. Her biggest fear was starting a conversation with someone only to find out that the other person found her annoying. It wasn’t until she was older that she discovered that these feelings were nothing but F.E.A.R. – false events appearing real. Though she’s too humble to admit it, Melissa has had to overcome a lot to become the talkative, open and helpful person she is today. Finding a permanent home in Paris, TN was one of the things that helped her find the confidence to speak. Accepting a job with Four Seasons Sales & Service was another, perhaps because she spent two years operating the company’s telephone switchboard, where she spoke with hundreds of people each day. From that day forward, Melissa has continued to put herself out there, so to speak, and the positive results are plain to see – she’s friendly, funny and well-loved, in the tanning business and life.
The “New Kid”
Melissa Diane Perkins was born June 22, 1971 in West Memphis, AR, the youngest child of Keith and Rosemary Perkins. Because Melissa’s father held a management position in the manufacturing industry, she and her family moved around a lot during her youth. “Before I was 10 years old, we had lived in Princeton, KY, Tupelo, MS and McMinnville, TN,” she said, “but our move to Watertown, NY was the hardest. Not only was I the new kid, I was the new kid with the weird accent, so I got teased a lot because of it. I also had to give my Dalmation away to a family in McMinnville before we moved.” One good thing did come of Melissa’s moving around as a youngster – a closer bond with her sister, Michelle. “We were each other’s best friend so we didn’t care if we made friends at school or not,” she said. “We’re still very close.”
After more than ten years of traveling for his job, Keith Perkins decided it was time to take his family home. To him, this meant returning to the farmhouse that he grew up in, and he wasn’t the only one who looked forward to putting down roots. “For me, Paris was home right from the beginning,” Melissa explained. “It was great to have a place with room to play and we had lots of pets and animals.” Because Keith worked more than an hour from home, Melissa spent most of her days with her mother and her sister, learning many important lessons she would carry through life. “Mom always taught us the importance of acting like a lady,” she said, “and her and Daddy always said that when it comes to faith, you have to walk the walk.”
While Melissa says she was very shy in high school, this apparently didn’t hinder her dating opportunities. While she first met Robert Gallion when she was about ten years old, she began dating him while the two were in high school. “He was a tall, muscular football player who was crazy about me for some reason,” Melissa laughed. “That’s part of what attracted me to him. As I got to know him, I discovered we had very similar goals and beliefs yet in other ways, we’re very different.” Melissa describes the high school sweetheart whom she eventually married as very outgoing and friendly. These qualities rubbed off on her, as well. “Robert definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone,” she added, “and that’s a good thing.”
After 21 years with Team Four Seasons, Melissa (in black) says she’s confident in her role in the tanning industry.
Lots to Learn
After graduating high school in 1990, Melissa enrolled at Tennessee Technology Center in Mackenzie, TN, where she majored in business administration. “After moving around so much as kid,” she said, “I came to consider the Paris my home and I wanted to settle down there. I decided to major in business administration because I thought it would help me get a job somewhere in the area.” She began working at a beauty boutique called The Hangar, where she was introduced to indoor tanning and the company that would become her future employer. “Since I ran the front end of the store, ordering products was a big part of my job,” she explained. “Four Seasons supplied and serviced the two tanning beds at The Hangar, and I got to know many of the Four Seasons staff.”
Melissa had worked for two years at The Hanger when the owner decided to sell the business, forcing Melissa to find another job. “Through my relationship with Four Seasons, I found out they had a job opening for a switchboard operator so I applied,” she explained. “At that time, they had a switchboard but no voicemail system. Needless to say, I wrote down a lot of messages in those days!” After two years answering phones, Melissa was promoted to a position in product sales, which evolved into her current position of Vice President of Consumable Sales. “I like working with the sales reps and coaching them through their calls with customers and helping them in any other way I can,” she said.
On September 23, 1995, Melissa Perkins married Robert Gallion, and was whisked away to the Smoky Mountains for a honeymoon. Having gone straight from living with her parents to life as a wife, she admits that at first, the transition wasn’t easy. “On that first night,” she recalled, “I remember being a little freaked out by the thought of not going home at the end of the night. But I quickly fell in love with being married and we waited seven years before we had our son, Garret, which gave us plenty of time for just the two of us.” A year after they married, Melissa’s sales efforts at Four Seasons earned her a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and the getaway was like a second honeymoon for the couple.
Left: Melissa’s husband Robert Gallion and their son, Garret. Right: The once shy Melissa Gallion is now accustomed to speaking to a crowd at Four Seasons’ trade events.
In the Present
These days find Melissa placing even more importance on spending time with her husband and their young son. “Because we waited to have Garret, we now savor every moment with him,” she said. Much like her father, Melissa’s husband also enjoys raising and showing cattle, and her son is getting involved in this hobby, as well. Although she’s supportive, Melissa says that this isn’t something that interests her. “I help out a little bit with that, but I’m usually content to go outside and tend to my yard work,” she laughed. “That seems to be all the excitement I can handle.”
After 21 years on Team Four Seasons, Melissa says she has confidence in her role with both the company and the tanning industry. Since her career has given her so much, she says she does everything she can to give back. “On any given day at work, I can be a friend, ally, shoulder to lean on and even a peacemaker,” she said. “I just enjoy being able to help the team whenever they need me. While I sometimes slip into that same insecurity that plagued me in grade school, my time at Four Seasons has been great for me.”
Many people just don’t understand those who are shy. Perhaps because for some, being outgoing is so easy, they might not appreciate the quiet person sitting off to the side, seemingly lost in their own thoughts. While Melissa Gallion certainly thinks of herself as that shy, young girl who was afraid to speak up in class, she’s definitely come a long way since her third-grade year. It’s easy to see that she’s found her voice and uses it to help her coworkers as she continues to lead by example. Keep up the good work, Melissa!
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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