One rainy morning last spring, Linda Temple, the front end manager for the Hanover Co-op, sat down with me to talk about her long career. We were in an upstairs meeting room of the Hanover store. We could hear the steady hum of customers downstairs.
I could tell right away Linda was uncomfortable talking about herself. Instead, the soft-spoken, reflective manager wanted to talk about the members and shoppers who have meant so much to her.
“Over all those years, you collect a lot of great memories,” Linda said. “I’ve gotten to know mothers with young children, for example, whose kids have now grown up and graduated from college. Now they’re Co-op shoppers, too.”
More than 30 years ago, Linda walked into the Hanover Co-op to apply for a job as a cashier. She was thoughtful and articulate, and her sharp intellect and affable nature made a strong impression. She was hired on the spot.
Linda started work a few days later and has been at the Co-op ever since. Over the years she developed close relationships with coworkers and customers alike. On the job she met her coworker and future husband, Pat, and became a favorite cashier to many customers who would wait just to go through her line.
I’m here because of people—both the people I work with and the members and customers I’ve come to know and care about.
Today Linda’s job carries some of the most demanding responsibilities of any at the Co-op. Most shoppers don’t realize the knotted, complex nexus that makes the front end work, and that much of the process is by Linda’s design, no matter which store you shop in. When you go through a checkout with relative speed and ease, Linda is among the folks you can thank. She helped develop the systems in place that work so well throughout our business.
“She’s been task-oriented and on the ball from the beginning,” said Randy Gage, a fellow long-term Co-op employee who remembers when Linda first started. “It’s one of the reasons she has been so successful from the first day.”
Linda has seen the Hanover Co-op Front End grow from four registers to seven and the Co-op grow from one retail location to four. She has been there for the introduction of computerized registers, complex networks, the internet, and two huge renovation projects. And as each new level of technology and growth was introduced, Linda caught on quickly and taught others how to catch on, too.
But Linda is drawn to the idea that a good business is built on relationships with people, not on the latest technology. There is a creative energy in her appreciation for her customers and their families. She looks for new and innovative ways to serve them, and says when it comes to her career, it’s the people who have made all the difference.
“Why I have I been here this long?” she asks rhetorically. “I’m here because of people—both the people I work with and the members and customers I’ve come to know and care about. These are the things that have made my career really rewarding.”