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When I first started working at PCGS about four years ago, I'd heard of people collecting coins as a hobby, but had no idea there was a whole world behind it. I also had no idea the numismatic world would completely change my life.
My name is Chris Thomas, I'm 27 years old and I work for PCGS in the Photo & Video Department where I assist Phil Arnold as a Production Artist. I began my career at PCGS working in Customer Service. It started off rough in the beginning. I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you how much there is to learn and remember about coins. From different types of coins, to different types of varieties, mint errors, the difference between them, how values work, and the list goes on and on. You can really ask anyone and they'll tell you that working in Customer Service for PCGS is absolutely the hardest position within the entire company. I really believe they should all be given medals on a daily basis!
I remember being so blown away the first time I attended a coin show. It was the Long Beach Expo, and I couldn't believe how big the show was. With so many people traveling from all over the world to attend, I knew that I was a part of something a lot bigger than I had imagined.
Since then I've been to countless shows, have met so many great people and I've always enjoyed how closely knit it can be, almost like one big family. I've been all over the country and was even lucky enough to be a part of the first crew PCGS President Don Willis sent overseas to tackle the opening of the Hong Kong office. The crazy thing is that before I started working here I had never even been on a plane, so it has definitely been an extraordinary experience for me in that regard.
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I can probably go on and on just talking about coin shows, but I don't want to take up too much time as I have work to do. So I'll fast-forward a bit. I've only been doing Numismatic Photography for about nine months, and still have a lot of learning to do before I'm even close to Phil Arnold's level, but it's that sort of challenge that will keep me going. Shown are a few of my favorite work examples. Let me know what you think at [email protected]
So many great things have happened since I began working here. Not only have I been able to see the world and learn a ton of new things, but I've also done a lot of growing as an employee as well as a person. In the past four years I've gotten married to my high school sweetheart and in August of last year we brought a beautiful baby boy into the world. This job has given me stability, knowledge, confidence, and culture in which I could not be more grateful.
The amount of work this company puts into providing a work environment that makes people truly enjoy their job is unlike anything else. Every month we have a company meeting where we are informed of everything going on by the top executives. We are also encouraged to try new things within the company. I've always admired that because it's hard enough to find a good job these days as it is, but one that actually promotes growth and opportunity is quite rare.
The culture within the PCGS office is like any other large company for the most part, however, everyone is on a first name basis with one another no matter what your title is. All of our management and executive staff have an open door policy. If any employee has a question, concern, idea, or just wants to talk about what their next move within the company should be, they can walk straight into their manager's office and state their case.
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Another thing is that it seems we're always on the ball when it comes to being proactive and relevant with cutting-edge technology. My favorite examples of PCGS innovation include a machine that can "sniff" coins to tell if chemicals have been used on it, and a device that can read the smallest surface details of a coin using lasers. These technologies ensure the security of our customers' investment and assist in counterfeit prevention and I'm proud to be a part of each.
I believe a lot of people get the perception that we all wear fancy suits and the PCGS building is dripping in marble with Lamborghini's parked outside next to private jets. As much as I wish we all had a Lamborghini, it's not true. In fact, I drive a 2008 Saturn Outlook that seats seven and gets great gas mileage for a full size SUV. Another thing that's rare these days is that more than half of PCGS's employees seem to have been here for at least ten years! I've been here four years and I'm still the new guy.
I guess it just goes to show that it is not always a great product that puts you on top for 27 years straight, but rather the people that make it happen. When people are happy they have no reason to leave. And if they want to keep their job, they have to be good at what they do. When everyone is happy and good at what they do, everybody wins.