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In-n-Out bags employee loyalty

After 5 years, 12 workers still on the job

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In-n-Out bags employee loyalty

Nearly 30 of the Manteca In-N-Out Burger staff members flash a collective smile for a fifth anniversary "family" portrait following an early Saturday morning staff meeting led by manager Caleb Solo...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED April 23, 2010 3:05 a.m.
Flipping burgers isn’t a job that you’d expect to find people staying with for more than a year let alone five years.

But then again In-N-Out Burger isn’t your typical fast food restaurant.

In-n-Out Burger is marking its fifth anniversary at Yosemite Avenue and Commerce Drive where Tradeway Chevrolet stood for nearly half a century.
“It hurts my dimples to smile if I smile too much,” noted five-year veteran Jovanna Rivera when pictures were being taken.

Rivera always had a smile on her face even before signing on to the In-N-Out Burger team.

Rivera is one of 12 staff members who first greeted Mantecans when the store opened in 2005.  A Sierra High School graduate, she was 20 years old and just starting out on her own with a young child and getting her first apartment when she went to work at the new restaurant.
Her sister had suggested that she put in an application for a position at the new restaurant on Yosemite Avenue near the Highway 99 freeway.  

“It is a good friendly working environment where they give us pay raises and establish sales goals with the theme of quality, freshness and cleanliness,” she said.

And there are perks for staffers who meet their goals, and who follow the established guidelines in their day-to-day shift work.  They have gone to Magic Mountain and to Six Flags with members of other stores.  Each year In-N-Out sponsors a picnic in both Northern and Southern California at a water slide.  In the north it is in Walnut Creek where workers are invited to bring their families for a day of fun and all they can eat from a special picnic lunch extravaganza.

Store manager Caleb Solomon said the fact that 12 people are still on the job five years later is a testimonial to the work environment that makes it hard for anyone to leave.  Regional manager Denny Klein said the Manteca staff is one of the most cohesive he has seen anywhere in the system.  They work together and they play together, he said.  The workers hang out together, show up early, and have a burger with each other before they sign on, he added.

Solomon remembers a “secret shopper” coming into the store and ordering her lunch saying one of his staff members, Sandra Glover, did an excellent job in serving the quality control representative.  Sandra even took her lunch to her at her table, not knowing she was checking on the service.

Two other exceptional staffers are Stephanie Hottiezer and Blake Galeazzi.  Blake is transferring to a college in Riverside wanting to become a surgeon and Stephanie is currently in a nursing program at Delta College.  “She has the potential to get her BA and go pretty far,” Solomon said.

In-n-Out Burger feels like family
There is an upcoming softball tournament on the horizon in Fremont that involves some 48 teams where the Manteca store will be competing.  The Manteca store came in fourth last year and staffers plan to move up in their finish this year.  Staff members have been going to the batting cages just across Yosemite Avenue at the Strike Zone to sharpen their skills in a sincere team effort.

Leo Garcia from Escalon High, who has been at the store for a year and a half,  said, “You feel good coming to work here – it’s like family – it’s cool.”

Oscar de Santiago is going to mark his two-year anniversary with In-N-Out in September.  “It’s just the people who work here.  It’s family with great pay,” he said.

Crystal Miller came to the store from Modesto where she worked as a manager until her newborn arrived.  She thanked the firm for giving her four months maternity leave at a manager’s salary when her daughter was born.  She stepped down from the managerial position because of her greater responsibilities at home and transferred to the Manteca store – having a total of 13 years with the company.  

“People don’t work here just to get paid – they’re here for the strict rules and guidelines,” she said.  “Every day is different – the guidelines and rules make it all happen.”

Bobby Stephenson and Daniel Godfrey said they both met their very best friend when going to work at the Manteca store.  Bobby graduated from East Union High School in 2004 and is in his last year at Delta College where he is hoping to enter the impacted nursing program soon.

He said his job is great, because the firm has a policy of working their schedule around your college classes.  Friend Daniel Godfrey wass a graduate of Turlock Christian High School when he decided to do his best to land a job with In-N-Out.

“I needed a job because I was going into my last semester at Modesto Junior College majoring in biomedical engineering.”  He is planning to transfer to Long Beach State in the fall.

Dan and Bobby laughed as they explained their friendship status.  They both have X-Boxes that they play and compete with over the Internet.

Another Sierra High grad, Virginia Nuno, said she skipped a class to go to the Manteca store to apply for her job – along with her friend Brandy.  “I’ve stayed so long, because I love the people.  We’re like family here,” she said.  She, too, is attending Delta College in Stockton with an eye toward a career in nursing.  “I’ve always smiled,” she said, “it goes with the job.”

Jessica Shupperd is in her freshman year at Delta College taking general education classes.  She, too, has been thinking about nursing.  Husband Anthony is a store manager in Union City – he commutes – and the couple lives in Escalon.

 “It’s a good job and they treat the employees well – friendly – good pay, and a lot of opportunity to move up in the company,” she said.

Business up due to down economy
Tatiana Silva agreed, saying, “It has been an amazing year with a bunch of great associates.  I’ve been here for only a year, because I graduated early.  I should be a senior now,” she said.  “Everyone is so friendly when you get here – it’s fun – my customers are normally friendly people, too,” she said.

One of the rules is that staff members always say please and thank you to the customers and to each other as well.

Regional manager Denny Klein was on site to be in the picture with the Manteca staff and noted that the business is up partly due to the down economy where families are looking for a nutritious meal at a price they can afford.

Klein started with the firm when he was in high school in the Southern California community of Lancaster.  When he went to college in Irvine, there was an In-N-Out across the street and he signed on while he earned his civil engineering  degree from the University of California there – being with In-N-Out ever since – having moved up to the corporate level.

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