One Family, One Associated 

In the September edition of Team Services’ Learning Leaders, the topic of change and transition was addressed. Focusing on the element of change, “We know that change is certain yet responding to change can still be challenging.”  

William Bridges Associates define change as, “The external event or situation that takes place: a new business strategy, a turn of leadership, a merger, or a new process.” However, change is not always predictable. Some changes are in response to unexpected events.   

In the fall of 2008, me and my children (Britesha, Brenner, and Tresden) were hit with unexpected change and setback in our lives. I found myself single and my children displaced from what we had previously known. Struggling with this change, we hunkered down, stayed close, talked often and supported each other throughout this difficult time.

In the summer of 2009, I met Sylvia DeMille and her five children: Ami, Van, Anna, Eli, and Dari.  At this time, we began dating (the process of a merger) and spent the next two years working through geographical challenges, countless sacrifices, contention among our children and differences in how they were initially raised. Though many challenges still lay ahead, we were married in April of 2011.  

At this same time, in the fall of 2009, hundreds of Albertson’s associates along the Wasatch front found themselves dealing with an unexpected change in which they too may have experienced a feeling of displacement, as they were acquired by AFS.   

Both my family situation and the Albertson’s purchase were difficult and personal for those involved. From a business perspective, the team members from Albertson’s experienced a change in business strategy, store name, leadership, processes, procedures and culture. As a family, we experienced our own challenges of where to live and how to raise our children. We worked through what rules our children were expected to follow, as well as questions and hurtful statements like, “Why is your last name not the same?”, “You’re not my dad” and “You’re not my mom.” The flux of “on and off” weekends and the ever-elusive battle to find stable ground was exhausting.

Fast forward twelve years from the Albertson’s acquisition and we at Associated Food Stores were blessed to have Bob Obray at the helm as CEO, even though it was just for 18 short months. A spirit of collaboration, communication, trust and partnership prevailed. Everyone Bob met, not just inside of AFS, but within our families, were accepted, acknowledged and recognized as key elements of One Associated 

For my family, challenges were overcome, trust was achieved and true friendships developed. Thirteen years later, harmony and love exists and our disjunct group became One Family. For those who know me best, they know family is at the very center of who I am and my dream of One Family became a reality.     

Collectively, as families, friends and work associates, we have responded well to change and all the challenges that have come with it. We are better for it. The poem by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”, is about choices and opportunities throughout one’s life. The final words of the poem speak to me, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”   

In life and in work, we all have choices. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to make a difference and we can choose to be a part of the solution. Nearly 26 years ago I chose Associated Food Stores and nearly 13 years ago I chose to embrace my new family and that has made all the difference 

Never in a million years did I think I would find myself in my 50’s with eight kids, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, twelve grandchildren and two more on the way. With hard work, love and acceptance, we have found peace, happiness and stability in this ever-changing and challenging world. We support each other.   

I encourage everyone to accept, embrace and welcome the change that comes with new opportunities, new team members, new stores and our new leadership.  It’s “a new beginning” and a chance to “plus up” our One Associated. The only constant in life is change. How we respond to it will make all the difference.