Family Business, Family Values: An Interview With Stephanie (Wadhams) Grenier
The third generation of the Wadhams family is more involved in the company than ever; six out of Red’s 10 grandchildren now have roles within the company. Though many of us have now been working full-time at Wadhams for several years, to some of our long-term, loyal customers and staff, we’re still the “new kids”.
My name is Jeffrey Wadhams, and to help you get to know the Wadhams third generation, I took a little time away from RIST LTL to chat with my cousin Stephanie (Wadhams) Grenier about her role in our family business.
She, like me, has been a part of Wadhams since childhood. If you ask Steph how she got started at her job here, she’ll be quick to tell you, “We used to play in Grandpa’s office and run around the shop after school… it has always been like a second family. When we were growing up, we did a lot of part time work here, too. We’d help out in the office, with filing or data-entry. We were always out in the shop learning how to change tires, wash trucks, or move around freight. We all kind of grew up in the business.”
Stephanie’s Niche: Bringing On New Members of the Wadhams Team & Making Sure Everyone Gets Paid
Stephanie spent two years working in Wadhams recruiting – a job she thrived in. “We hire for the whole company – mostly drivers, because they’re the core of the business,” she says. “I loved it because I feel like I’ve gotten to know a number of people in the company.”
Just this year, Stephanie started a new role in Payroll. In this role she gets to develop her accounting and administration skills, and gets to know another vital aspect of the family business.
In every role, Steph enjoys getting to know her team members: “It’s so nice to be able to go to the company picnics or go to the different terminals and recognize faces and share a laugh with our team members. …And what’s really great is that there’s a handful of people who were here when I was a kid, and to work side-by-side with them after all these years is so special.”
Family Run and Family Values: Reasons to Love Working at Wadhams
When I ask her why she is proudest to work for Wadhams, Steph has trouble choosing just one answer: “I think being a family-run business, that’s definitely the first reason. Grandpa, my dad [Rick], and uncle Steve have always tried to make it a “home” and make everyone feel like family – and not everyone can say that about their job.
“I remember our parents telling us stories about Grandma always inviting everyone up to the house for lunch (when there was only a handful of employees). They would have the drivers and mechanics stay overnight if it was a bad snow storm and they couldn’t get home, and they would host parties for the holidays. I can remember going to some when I was a kid and it was such a great feeling to be part of that. There’s a special community in a family-run company that you don’t get anywhere else.”
But for Steph, it’s also the quality of employees and equipment that set Wadhams apart: “We have great staff, and we want to help them do their jobs safely. It’s something that my dad really strives for. I mean, he’s right in the shops regularly, checking on things. It’s very important for him, and for all of us, to have safe, up-to-date equipment for the drivers… ever since we were kids, we’ve always known that safety comes first. And I think that really means something to our drivers. They appreciate it.”
Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Challenges Overcome and Still to Come
All of the Wadhams grandchildren know that to own and operate a family business calls for an extremely deep commitment. Steph especially was touched to see how hard it was for our grandfather to “retire” after so many years in the business. She remembers, “For grandpa, it was hard to see him struggle with passing the torch. Even after he retired, he was down in the office every single day. He loved this company and everyone who worked for him. He knew his boys would do an amazing job, but he still wanted to be part of every step along the way.”
But now as we take on larger roles within the company, we have to turn our attention to the biggest challenges facing not just our business, but the entire industry. It’s something we talk about a lot. For Steph, there are a few basic tenets of advice that we should always have at the forefront of our minds: “We have to continuously learn from our parents – and we have to work together to make sure we’re on top of all the changes in this constantly evolving industry. And lastly, we have to make sure that drivers are happy and enjoying their work. The drivers are the heart and soul of this company – if we don’t have them, we don’t have anything.”
We may be the third generation of Wadhams family staff members – relatively speaking, still “new” to the business, but if you stop and have a conversation with my cousin Stephanie – or with any of us – you’ll see that we’re as committed as ever to maintaining the same core values that our grandfather started this company with; it’s just our way of life.
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