I started with the company in July of 1964. Prior to that time I was working at the Santa Fe Railroad. I was also attending Northwestern University evening classes completing work on my undergraduate degree. My late wife Nancy and I had been married for some time and had one daughter.
We were expecting our second child later that year so I decided that the time had come to find a job with more growth potential and hopefully a tuition reimbursement program. Even in 1964, Northwestern was a very expensive school. In some months, tuition expense exceeded car payments and rent. In June of that year I contacted Northwestern University's placement office and found that they had a position open for an assistant traffic manager located in Melrose Park, Illinois. Jewel Companies had a fine reputation and seemed like a progressive company. They also had a tuition reimbursement program. I arranged an interview with Ed Van Poolen traffic manager for Osco and Turn*Style stores. The day had arrived!
Nancy had decided to come along with me to offer some last minute advice. She decided to wait in the car while I interviewed. How long could an interview take? The good news was that the interview took several hours. The bad news was that Nancy almost fainted waiting in the car! We returned home and waited for some news. One week later I received a call from Ed and received a job offer. The job was assistant traffic manager at a salary of $125 per week - PLUS TUITION REIMBURSEMENT! I was thrilled… Two weeks later I was on the job.
That was how I started my 27 year career with Osco. It also was the start of my relationship with Osco people that would last much longer than 27 years.
Through those years I have many great memories. I remember management meetings at Pine Island, Georgia, Lake Geneva. Wisconsin, The Breakers and Pheasant Run, just to mention a few. I also remember an early management meeting in Carefree, Arizona where I retired many years later.
These meetings were all very memorable. We had a great deal of fun. Did a little bit of work and returned a much stronger management team. I remember a pharmacist strike, during which we worked side by side, office people and spouses, to keep stores and distribution centers open and serving customers.
I remember giving a speech I brashly titled the Osco Oracle. This speech poked fun at our fearless executive committee. I thought they would take the speech in good fun. At least until I returned to find my office decorated as a harem! I found out that the executive committee really couldn't take a joke! But mostly what I remember are the Osco people that taught me a great deal and helped shaped my life. All those people that mentored me as I was learning, never too busy to give advice, always teaching by example, showing me how a first assistant really worked to help you succeed. They showed me that we all work together, executives and clerks. All deserve respect, all deserve a chance to succeed. They taught that ’we’ is much more important than ‘me’. These people always conducted themselves with the highest moral standards. Standards for the rest of us to follow.
My mentors were: Dick Cline, Tork Fuglestad, Bill Lewis, Dick George, Bill Jacobs, Byron Luke, Bill Altman and Dick Hilden. They were my teachers and I owe them much. The other people I remember are those folks who stood side by side with me every day, Trying to make things a little better. People like Doug Fetzer, Arlyn White, Ken Walker, Mark Lessert, Darlene Mann, Sharon Cartwright, Ed Van Deman, Jerry Ostermann, Bob Johnson, Wayne McGuire, John Dvorak and Stan Carlson to name a few.
Whatever good I might have accomplished would be due in large measure to the efforts of these special people. Finally ,I am proud to say that many of these people are among my closest friends today. They mean the world to me! Who could have imagined that accepting a job because of tuition reimbursement almost 50 years ago would lead to such a life changing adventure.
I am a very lucky guy!