Photo by Isaac Harrell
Bridgestone/Firestone Stephen Towne Stephen Towne was still in high school when he started pumping gas and working on cars for a local mom-and-pop Sunoco station in Richmond's South Side. The job was rewarding, but he wore too many different caps. When he came to Firestone in late 2000, he found his niche. He also found good pay — anywhere from $60,000 to $90,000 in a really busy year — and benefits for his work as lead and master technician. "The stability, the benefits and the security of it all — it's a good company to work for." Costco Doug Archer The day Doug Archer got laid off from his long-time job at the cigarette factory may well have been his best career move. "I was working at Philip Morris and they had laid off 500 people," says Archer, a carpenter by trade. "It was the best thing they did for me." At Costco, the bulk-buy retail club, he receives more than five weeks of annual vacation. "Now I make well over $20 an hour," says Archer, who has worked 29 years with the company. "The benefits, they're the best benefits out there. Where else can you go and have a $15 co-pay?"
Job & Salary Stories
Krispy Kreme Elizabeth Coleman It's been a sweet life for Elizabeth Coleman, general manager of Krispy Kreme's iconic West Broad Street store, where she still loves her job after 33 years. "I tell the newcomers there's always something new to learn — I'm still learning," she says. In fact, Coleman says, she started as a bookkeeper, but after two years moved up into a supervisor position. "When I first got here, all the paperwork was by hand. I learned computers working here." So surrounded by so much sugary bliss, what's the best part? "The thing that still really gets me is turning on the Hot Doughnuts Now sign," she says, breaking into a grin. Goodwill Joyce Billie Working for a chain provides steady employment with a secure company. But it also can provide far richerrewards — like a second chance at life that comes just in the knick of time. Joyce Billie worked for nearly a decade in food service for hospitals and medical facilities before a long period of unemployment led her to Goodwill Enterprises of Central Virginia for job retraining and eventual employment in the Midlothian Crossing thrift store. "It has made me more independent once again," she says, crediting the customers nearly as much as the job with helping restore her confidence in herself. "They have great respect for me, and I have the same for them. I'm a people person, so I enjoy helping them." Arby's Grace Berry Allen For the past 10 years, Grace Allen starts her day at the Arby's at the downtown James Center the same way. She fires up the ovens, bakes the bread, pours some coffee for customers, and then "I take a walk every day," she says, making her way through the glass atrium into the busy Cary Street sidewalks. She uses the break to find a bit of Zen between her morning clients and her afternoon lunch crowd. "It clears my head." With benefits like life and dental insurance, a 401K plan and decent pay, Allen, who's known as Miss Grace, says she couldn't be happier. "I love working here," she says. "I think this is it — hopefully I can be here until I retire."