When George Stafford starts a job, he sticks with it, as evidenced by his incredible 50th Anniversary with Associated Food Stores, celebrated last week. “I got out of the marines after serving in Vietnam and came back to Salt Lake City,” said Stafford. “I decided I needed to find a job and went down to the Associated warehouse; they took my application, and I was working the graveyard that night!” That pivotal day was in 1972, and as George says, “I’ve been here ever since!”
Stafford began his Associated journey like so many others, as an order selector. “Back then it was one case at a time, now it is one pallet at a time.” After a year and a half as an order selector, Stafford was approached about working in the maintenance department. “There was building maintenance and forklift maintenance, and I was on the forklift side.” Once the warehouse operation consolidated and moved to Farr West, maintenance was also combined and both building and lift maintenance worked together, or as Stafford says, “I work on everything but the trucks!” Later George was made Assistant Maintenance Manager at the Distribution Center, a position he still holds today.
Just before the warehouse moved to Farr West, Stafford built a home in Lehi. A home he decided he wanted to stay in. “So, every morning I get up early and drive the 70 miles from my home to the Distribution Center and every evening I drive all the way back home. Five days a week, 140 miles every day. The gas companies love me!”
“Associated has been a great place to make my career,” said Stafford. “After about 10 years I realized this is the place I want to be when I retire. You can have advancement here, but you have to be willing to be a little patient, stick around and put in the work. One thing about me, when I start a job, I’m going to finish it.”
The 50-year adventure has been a great one for both Stafford and Associated. “I’ve enjoyed every year of it. The people all along the way have all been great.”
If team members have not had the pleasure of learning from George, they have a year to do it. “I will retire in about a year and move on to the next thing in my life. But besides spending more time in St. George with my son and grandkids, I’m not sure what that next chapter will be!”