A great milestone for the history books! Judie Pellegrino, a 24 year veteran of Rio Grande, is retiring. If you don’t know her, you probably know someone like her. Judie is an energetic gal who has made a positive and unselfish contribution to Rio Grande for more than two decades. She began working here in December of 1987, back when we occupied a cramped building, soon to be remodeled to a three story property. Back then, Rio associates wore many hats ranging from phone answering to order fulfillment to warehouse work to shipping. “We simply did everything, and everything got shipped. We would take the order on the phone and later in the day pull the order and box it up…and everything shipped even WITHOUT computers!”
Judie served Rio in three of our four buildings, and in 1996, as we closed in on our current building, Judie recalls making field trips with her coworkers to scope out the building. The new site was HUGE and she recalls thinking, “we will never fill this place up!” As the move progressed, associates used their own cars to move their stuff and chairs, it was orchestrated chaos! Thankfully, Judie had just purchased a new Volvo station wagon, which she used to shuttle piles of stuff for many people.
Recently, we gathered together to commemorate Judie’s tenure at Rio and shared hilarious stories from the old days. Not only is Judie a wonderful and compassionate person, but she can tell a story to make your sides split in laughter. Here are a few favorite Judie tales:
The old building had only one restroom, shared between boys and girls. There weren’t any female “provisions” supplied and Judie pressed for a change. She worked with the facilities manager Dennis Edelman to make things right. Dennis, being a bit shy and unsure, told Judie that she should champion the cause, and she did. An ad-hoc was formed, ideas were cooked up, and in the end, Judie was nominated to purchase, stock, re-stock, and collect the quarters for the new dispenser. That was her first taste of proactive leadership and being relied upon to realize her vision. There was no stopping her from then on. Judie sat on 28 different ad-hocs and committees during her tenure. Recycling programs, blood drives, recognition programs, increased sales, customer service excellence, Halloween events…and the list goes on!
She initiated an aluminum can recycling program in 1989. The facilities manager would gather the bags and Judie would schlep them down the elevator and put them in, you guessed it, her Volvo wagon to haul them off. Like Judie, her Volvo has served well for many, many years. It recently hit the 200,000 mile mark and Volvo sent her the coveted decal reserved for very special milestones! Her car is almost as famous as she is!
Judie recalled a funny prank they used to pull on new fulfillment associates back in the old building. She and her mischievous partners would call out the newbies name on the intercom stating that there was a call holding on line 5-0. The new associate would eagerly pick up only to find the line dead. Line 5-0 was the fulfillment extension so in essence they were answering themselves. Eventually the newbie caught on and after a lot of laughter and silliness, the gig was up.
Through the years Judie –and her Volvo—have played an integral part in our company and she deserves the best retirement possible. If we had the chance, we would hire a hundred Judies!