Residents find Company’s Work Styles ‘Essential’

Published: June 3, 1999
Andy Hutchison | Darien News

Essential Data President Antoinette Allocca says there are a few stand-out reasons why people come to work for her newly honored Stamford-based company-flexibility, proximity, and salary.

Ms. Allocca must be doing something right using that formula. Essential Data Corporation was recently named one of the top 500 Women-owned businesses in the country in the June issue of Working Woman magazine. Although listed at Number 461, Essential Data enjoyed an astounding growth spurt-from and income of $1 million in 1996, to $20 million in 1998.

The company employs approximately 15 sales associates who interact with major companies seeking technical writers. The technical writers essentially serve as the link between computer lingo for specific companies and their customers.

According to Ms. Allocca, approximately 40 percent of the sales consultants, who work out of her Stamford office, are Darien residents.

The president of the company claims that many Darien residents work for her as a result of downsizing in their former company, and/or because of a need for working close to home, and making a six-digit income.

Instead of working on Wall Street, for example, employees can make better salaries without the long commute, according to Ms. Allocca.

“Their attitude is ‘been there, done that.’ They don’t want to go back,” she said.

The president of the company, who recently returned from a White House reception honoring women business owners, said sales associates who have worked there for two years or more, make between $300,000 and $600,000, depending on their efforts and success. She added the numbers are the incentive for them to do good work – the harder they work, the more clients they establish, the bigger their paycheck.

While the sales people generally start their work day in the office at 8 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m., they receive a three-hour break for lunch and are given the freedom to take care of personal issues during the day, including going home to take care of their children and working out at the gym on the extended lunch break.

Look around the office, a visitor would be surprised to hear that sales consultants are so well off. Many are dressed in jeans and workboots. For several hours a day, many of the salespeople are out of the office, taking advantage of the extended lunch break.

“It’s wonderful. I’m able to spend much more time with my children,’ said Andy Zimmer, a Darien resident, who has been a sales associate for Essential Data for almost two years. Mr. Zimmer formerly commuted to Wall Street daily, making for a long day.

“I’d leave when it’s dark in the morning and come back when it’s dark at night. It’s not like that anymore, he said.

“My responsibility is going out there and targeting companies that have the need for the nice business we’re in, “said Mr. Zimmer.

In his second year with Essential Data, Mr. Zimmer claims that building relationships with companies is one of the keys to being successful, because through they continue to do business through him.

“This is an industry where you can make a very good living for yourself,” he said.

Ms. Allocca said approximately 15 of the 140-or so technical writers across the country and in Europe and Japan, are from Darien.

One of them is Tom Smith, who enjoys the freedom of his work similarly to that of the sales associates. “You don’t’ get the staleness you get in being a full time worker,” said Mr. Smith.

“The beauty of it is, in between assignments if I want to take two or three weeks off, I can.”

The reason Essential Data sales associated take home the whopping income is because the company made $10 million in 1997, and $20 million in 1998.

Providing tech writers for companies such as Motorola, Pitney Bowes, and Darien’s Software Security and Air Express, sales associates can earn anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 over the course of a year through just one client, according to Ms. Allocca.
“It rejuvenates them. It’s like a fountain of youth they (sales associates) tell me.” Ms. Allocca said.

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