40 Years of Making a Difference: Meet Some of Our Incredible Long-term Associates

April 6, 2023

2 Min. Read
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In case you didn’t know, Sam’s Club’s 40th birthday is April 7. And if you haven’t heard, we’ve still got it goin’ on.

Our founder Sam Walton was the most notable business leader of his time—but no matter how much success he achieved, he never forgot where it all started. Once a humble entrepreneur with a successful five-and-dime, Mr. Sam knew firsthand the challenges of running a small business. Passionate about being a servant leader, Mr. Sam wanted to leverage his resources to help other entrepreneurs access the products and services they needed to make their small businesses succeed. That’s why, in 1983, he opened the first Sam’s Club in Midwest City, Okla.

Our people truly do make the difference and there are some fantastic associates who started with Sam’s Club 40 years ago you need to meet. They found their sense of belonging in their area of the company and have thrived.

For 40-year associate Vanessa (V) Vanreed, she began dancing when she started at the second ever Sam’s Club in Raymore, Missouri in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since.

Well, she makes us all smile and is one of the very special associates who have been with Sam’s Club since the beginning. Help us celebrate V, and we dare you to try not to smile after you watch her story.

But wait… of course there’re more. These associates have been with Sam’s Club since we started all those years ago. Let’s meet them for a snippet of their Sam’s Club story.

Wanda Hayes – 45 years

Wanda Hayes says "The people and the culture! I have met and developed relationships with so many wonderful people over my career. Some of my closest friends have been part of my Sam's club family and I have worked for some amazing leaders."

Hellen Baxter – 42 years

Hellen Baxter says "When I started with the company, I knew I would be here long term. It was a welcoming place, a place to grow, and a place to call home. After being with the company for 42 years, I feel as though this is my family and over the years my family just continues to grow."

Gilbert Zuniga – 41 years

Gilbert Zuniga says "I have worked with Sam's Club for the past 40 years because of my coworkers, the stability, and the welcoming culture. I have learned so much here and developed a hardworking skill set."

Donna Turner – 40 years

Donna Turner says "I felt I could belong to a business that was starting a new life and grow with it."

Manny Velasco – 40 years

Manny Velasco says "I have had so many great managers and co workers that have impacted me over the years. The reason I've stayed was because I have always had that feeling of family and acceptance..."

This wouldn’t be a proper birthday party if we also didn’t celebrate our Sam’s Club associates who have 40 or more years of service with the company and may have started at Walmart or another area. Let’s take a peek at what they had to say.

Carla Towery – 44 years

"Convenience, job stability, exciting work and challenges. Keep an open mindset and accept change…"

James Graham – 43 years

"Most of all, the values of Sam’s Club match my own personal values. In addition, I appreciate the day-to-day challenges, change and growth opportunities."

Larry Pavlinko – 42 years

"I have been very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. This company has given me everything that I needed to excel in my career. Our company recognized that hard work, passion for people and taking care of our members was and still is very fulfilling for me."

Margarete Ingram – 40 years

"Learn as much as you can.  Even if it is in an area that is not one you are assigned to.  Ask lots of questions and really listen to what people are saying. The knowledge you gain by asking questions will help get you ready for future roles."

Timothy Shaw – 40 years

"Good benefits, good people, good managers. It’s a marathon not a sprint."

Vivian Sellers – 40 years

"I still believe that Walmart and Sam’s Club take care of their associates as well as their customers and members. Working for this company has been a pleasure to providing for my family."

Forty years young. It feels good. But 80 is the new 40. And because of associates like these, we’ll be here waiting for you when you need us if that’s tomorrow or in 2063. Let’s get this party started.