55 years of dedication and counting
April third was a special day for one of Jennie-O Turkey Store’s longest-term team members because on that day, 55 years ago (in 1962), Marlys LaBlanc joined the team. She is the senior clerk at Jennie-O Turkey Store Barron (Wis.) Supply.
A celebration was held with many of Marlys’ current and past coworkers, family and friends to honor her. At this event, Marlys was presented with the company’s Pride of the Jersey recognition, intended to recognize those within the organization who are inspiring to others. She was also presented with her service anniversary award, which had to be specially designed because no one before her has reached the 55th milestone.
Keri Crotteau, Marlys’ manager, best summed up Marlys’ career. “Marlys is a true inspiration and a role model for what true dedication is all about. Marlys always puts work first; she is the first one here in the morning and can always be counted on to do whatever task is asked of her. Marlys has 55 years of knowledge and is the go-to person for live production accounts payable. She is respected and appreciated by her co-workers, not only as a fellow team member but also as a friend. Marlys has had eight bosses in her 55 years of service, and I am honored to be one of them.”
Keri added, “In all Marlys’ years of employment, she has only missed work due to bad weather. She never calls in sick and is never late for work!”
Marlys grew up in Prairie Farm, Wis. After graduating from high school, she attended the Rice Lake (Wis.) vocational school where she studied accounting and general business. She filled out employment applications at various businesses in the area so she would have a job lined up after she graduated. Barron Supply was the first response she received.
Marlys said, “I was just glad to get a job. I wanted to get experience. I really didn’t think I would be working at the same place 55 years later. I stayed because I like what I do and the people I work with and have worked for have always been great.”
Marlys has a scrapbook that is filled with photos, articles, newspaper clippings, certificates and cards all related to her life at work, including pay stubs from the early years. She was doing work for Barron Supply, Badger Gas Company, Badger Turkey Industries and the Jerome Elevator (all companies owned by Wallace H. Jerome, founder of Jerome Foods which later became The Turkey Store Company and now Jennie-O Turkey Store). Her pay rate was $1.20 per hour and she got a paycheck from each of the four companies.
“I stayed because I like what I do and the people I work with and have worked for have always been great.”
Marlys has seen a lot of changes during the past five-and-a-half decades. For the first 20 years working at Barron Supply, she was the only female in the department. Back then, there were five employees. Now there are 17. Computers were a thing of the future in 1962, and now they are a necessity. Barron Supply was responsible for building wooden range feeders in 1962 and employed three carpenters to do so. Today, they sell and service Bobcat loaders, repair farm equipment and employ thee mechanics. Barron Supply is the primary supplier of equipment, supplies and animal health products for Jennie-O Turkey Store live production.
Over her 55 years, Marlys has kept track of a few things:
- 590,000: miles driven to and from work;
- 71,000: times she’s clocked in and out of work; and
- 114,000: the approximate number of hours she’s worked.
Marlys married her husband Ron after she started working at Barron Supply. They were blessed with two daughters, Colleen and Kelly, who both worked at Jerome Foods while attending college. Colleen is a teacher in Sussex (Wis.) and Kelly is a senior lecturer at Carroll University in Waukesha (Wis.). Marlys enjoys reading, sewing, doing craft projects and visiting with family and friends.