Record unemployment numbers are clearly frightening. They are frightening for those that are looking for a job, and those who are concerned about their job security in a sputtering economy.
I think within those numbers, there is something that tends to get lost. Yes, companies have had to downsize, and yes, some have gone out of business resulting in the loss of jobs for all of their employees, but for those companies that continue to operate, there is a vast appreciation for those long term employees that have remained with them through the good and the tough times.
In the feature article in today's Business section, executives at both Willingway Hospital and Braswell Foods sang the praises of their long term employees. You can add the Claude Howard Lumber Company, Inc. to that list of proud employers.
"Alexander McMillan has been with us for 50 years," said Jeff Edwards of Howard Lumber. "He has done every job in the mill at one time or the other. He is currently a cut-off saw operator."
McMillan is known throughout the plant for his work ethic. "I started here in 1959 by stacking the lumber onto sticks," he said. "I was walking by here one day, and I needed a job. They hired me and I have been working here ever since."
Recently, Howard Lumber Company held an employee appreciation dinner recognizing employees for their length of service, but none as long as McMillan. When asked why he had remained with the company for so many years, McMillan, a quiet man, did not hesitate to respond.
"The Howards are very good people who have always treated me fairly and with respect," he said. "They have always done what said they were going to do, and have always trusted me to do my job."
When asked what advice he would give to young people entering the workface, McMillan said something you don't hear very often these days.
"If you find a good place to work, just stay there and do your best," he said. "There will be some hard times, but it will be worth it in the end."
Founded in 1898, Edwards said the company has 6 employees that have been with them 20 years or more, 5 employees that have been there 15 years or longer, and 13 employees that are 10 years or longer. Edwards said the Claude Howard Lumber Company, its owners and management, value the work relationships with our employees.
"We are family owned, family managed company that understands the core values and assets we have in our long term employees," he said.
Amazingly, McMillan continues to work over 40 hours a week, and he is 73 years old. I think he has earned the right to make the following statement.
"It has gotten a lot easier than when I started 50 years ago," he said
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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