After I returned back to work on Thursday, I met with the Store Manager Frank first thing in the morning. I explained to him that I would be giving my 3 weeks notice effective today and I would work until the third Friday before the end of the month. After speaking with my wife Jane and my Mom, I decided I should only give 3 weeks notice and take a week off before I started my new job. I needed to buy some dress clothes as well as some new White Bakery Uniforms. The present ones I owned were stained pretty bad. I than called the Bakery Director, Pete Tortrich and told him I would be leaving Bakery #15 for a new opportunity with a competitive store. The next morning Pete came by the bakery not to talk me out of the opportunity, but to congratulate me on my new endeavors. I had not told the Bakery Crew as I wanted to do it with Pete present. We called a Staff Meeting for 11:00 AM that Thursday morning in the breakroom. Pete started the meeting off by telling everyone what a fabulous job we had been doing over the past several months. Everyone was high fiving each other since this was coming from our big boss. He then proceeded to say that the job they had done was taken notice by one of the competitive stores owned by Mr. John Schwegmann, CEO and Chairman of the Board. The team was even more jubilated until he said the following. Pat, I think you need to take it from here. I had tears in my eyes. The team knew something was up. I said, “you guys and gals know I love and care for each and every one of you. We have all worked together for almost 3 years in the same Bakery. I have something very important to say. This past Wednesday morning, I had a meeting with Mr. Schwegmann and he has offered me a job as the new Bakery Buyer. This was a dream of a lifetime that will change not only my life, but a chance for me to better my family. It was not an easy decision, but in order for me to move to the next level, this kind of opportunity only comes around once in a lifetime. The breakroom went silent. No one said a thing for what seemed to me like 10 minutes, but in reality, it was probably only 30 seconds. One of the team members chimed in very quickly. Mr. Pat, Schwegmann doesn’t have any Bakeries like us?? I said you are correct. They bake a few things, but really do it all wrong. I am going to start with 1 or 2 stores and teach them the correct way to handle bakery products – you understand – the basics – 101 Baking Technology brought to you by da “BEAR”. The meeting disbanded almost as quickly as it started and everyone went back to work. I knew the team had some mixed feeling and lots of questions. The next 3 weeks went by quickly, but it seemed like 3 years instead of 3 weeks to me. I was trying to thank each and every employee one on one. When my final day of working in the bakery came around, The Bakery, the Store Employees from each department and several other management leaders from National / Canal Villere thru me a huge Surprise going away party and wished me luck. I didn’t work that Friday at all. I walked out the door with tears in my eyes and could not look back!! The first thing I did was go to eat. My nerves were shot and all I could think about was trying to calm myself down. In the back of my mind, I kept questioning my decision to leave. The only real job I ever had was in the Bakery at National / Canal Villere for 11 years. It was my comfort zone. The next week went by very slowly, which in my mind I needed. During my week off, I had some paperwork and orientation to complete before I started. My alter EGO was in full swing. I was even going to have a Business Card for the first time. I was on cloud nine, but in the back of my mind, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I had no real experience running an entire Chain Bakery Department. In my first few months, my immediate supervisor was Robert Schneider, but we both answered to Roy Lacoste, Vice President of Grocery Operations. When I started, the Bakery was actually part of the Deli Department, a very small part. Over the next year, the reigns were turned over to me and the Schwegmann Bakery Department started to advance into a full fledge department with its own Profit & Loss statements, which in the long run, would allow the department to be a stand alone; even having a Bakery Key added to the Store Registers in all 15 stores.
Will to Live – Gluttony w/ Envy & Greed – Part 24