LANDOVER, Md. — It’s common for most people today to work for more than 10 companies during their careers, according to recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Lucille Burns definitely skews those results.
She celebrated 50 years of employment with UniFirst Corp. on April 30. On her first day of work in 1958, a first-class postage stamp cost just three cents, and the United States was celebrating the successful launch of Explorer I, its first space satellite.
Burns is an assistant stockroom supervisor here in Landover, keeping tabs on more than 10,000 different stock keeping units (SKUs) for the apparel that UniFirst maintains for business customers that rent, lease and purchase work uniforms.
There are multiple-styled work shirts and pants, jackets, coveralls and specialty clothing for the medical, high-tech and food service industries, and Burns must monitor all apparel to ensure timely, uninterrupted deliveries to more than 2,100 customers weekly.
“It really doesn’t seem like 50 years have gone by,” she says. “So many people have come and gone, and there have been a lot of changes in the uniform supply industry … but all my years with UniFirst have been great ones.”
Burns is in a class by herself when it comes to stockroom management, says Plant Manager Ray Clairmont. “There’s not a question she can’t answer or problem she can’t solve.”
Burns literally wrote the book on managing UniFirst stockrooms. It’s called How Stockrooms Should Be Operated, and she still holds the original draft.
“People like Lucille are the reason we refer to our employees as our most valuable asset,” says Ronald D. Croatti, UniFirst’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s Team Partners like her who have made UniFirst’s continued success possible. My hope is that she’ll be with us for many more years to come. She’s a treasure.”
Burns enjoys a four-day workweek so she can spend more time with her family and enjoy leisure pursuits such as golf and “traveling everywhere.” One of her favorite destinations is California, where her children live, and she and her husband of 53 years, Harold, have also ventured to exotic locales such as Hawaii, Cancun and Rome.
“I think it’s better to have one employer – like UniFirst – that you can appreciate over your career rather than having 50 of them you don’t,” Burns says.