Kroger employee retiring after four decades

PLYMOUTH - Kroger in Plymouth said goodbye to an old friend who has decided to retire.

After 40 years on the job Steve Vervynckt will take it a little easier as he moves into retirement.

“I was working construction and I was looking for a part-time job,” he said of his early days at the store. “They made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. Forty years later here we are.”

In that time Vervynckt served the store in several capacities, beginning on the night shift.

“I was on the night stock and those were the fun years,” he said with a smile. “Those were when I was in my early 20’s so that was the fun. We had a lot of pretty great days at work but in the early days we were a little ornery and we used to do some things on nights like have basketball games - on our lunch hour strictly. Different things like that.”

Steve spent nearly 30 years as produce manager at the store. Asked to narrow down a highlight he was hard pressed.

“One Christmas we exceeded all sales at the old store and did $24,000 in produce,” he said. “I was so proud of myself and then we came to the new store (the Kroger current location) and started doing $70,000 so it was like that was nothing I guess.”

“I ran the department (Produce) for a third of my time,” said Steve.

“About eight years ago I had a midlife crisis and decided I wanted to go back to nights but I found out I was too slow for that so I ended up on receiving. I’ve known a lot of great people there over the years.”

Like many occupations computerization had a big impact on Steve’s time at Kroger.

“A lot of ordering and delivery - everything is computer now. Computers are the biggest change and adapting to that has been the biggest change,” he said adding with a smile. “I’m old school, so that’s been tough.”

He had realistic advice for those starting out now who might want to spend 40 years at the same job.

“I don’t know if its even realistic anymore,” he said. “You have to dedicate yourself. The Devil in retail is giving up your holidays and a lot of family time.”

(This story was published in the July 23 edition of the Pilot News.)