When most teenagers were getting ready for Halloween in 1970, 15-year-old Larry Levin was putting on a shirt and tie for his first day at work. Now fast forward to 2020, that same man is celebrating his 50-year anniversary working for Meijer.
The busy holiday season was just about to start, so his friend’s dad offered him the chance to give the job a try and find out whether he had what it takes to work in a retail environment. Levin started off bagging groceries and collecting carts at the Meijer Thrifty Acres store on Plainfield Ave. Soon he transferred to the Meijer store on Alpine Ave. where he continued to gain experience.
"I was taught to manage by walking around and being involved. By sharing what customers and team members are experiencing, it sets you up to do your best to help," Levin said.
Five decades later, he’s the store director at the Cedar Springs Meijer, preparing for his 50th anniversary of working for Meijer. Being a store director involved lots of 60-hour workweeks, overseeing the hardware department, general merchandise, apparel, learning how to open a store, working the night shifts, and handling the bottle return area.
However, even though he's climbed up in his position and his responsibilities have increased, Levin still manages to find ways to interact with his employees and customers.
"Customers tell me they’re surprised by how much they see me walking thru the aisles or in the parking lot pushing carts," Levin explains. "I tell them they see me there because 'that's where you are.'”
For others aspiring to be like Levin, he says the best way to move up is to interact with customers and employees and show them you care.
Levin said, "Everything from how I listen to customers to how I do my best getting to know the team members who work in my store. Even today, getting to know your co-workers, finding out about what their hobbies are, the names of their family, how their day is going, all of that goes a long way."
"When your co-workers know you care about them as people, and vice-versa, it’s easier to go that extra mile."