When Sarah Lee started working at the Dan Daniel Distribution Center 30 years ago, one of the first people she met was Jim French, who became her supervisor and mentor.
To mark her three decades with the Exchange, Lee recently received a coin and award from EVP and Chief Logistics Officer Karen Stack and Alan French, vice president of the Logistics Directorate. French just happens to be Jim French’s son.
A ‘very impactful, influential leader’
The elder French “quickly became a very impactful and influential leader for me,” said Lee, an operations supervisor at the DC in Newport News, Va. “He taught me very simple things, Mr. French always told me that time was important and being on time tells a lot about a person. He told me that it was better to be 15 or 20 minutes early for a shift or meeting rather than one minute late.
“Mr. French showed me and others that respecting time meant you were also credible and reliable. He taught us to hold on to our word because your word is all that you have.”
Alan French said that he was honored to join EVP and Chief Logistics Officer Karen Stack in presenting a coin and award to Lee.
“It was a very special occasion for me, considering that my father helped hire Sarah and was her first supervisor and mentor,” French said. “I felt my father was right there at the awards ceremony.”
Like the French family, Lee’s family is no stranger to the military. Two brothers served in the Army, while nephews and nieces have served, or are currently serving, in military branches. Her youngest daughter received an Army JAG Corps appointment, but medical reasons kept her from fulfilling the assignment.
“My entire family is a fan of the military and appreciate what the military does for the safety of this country,” Lee said. “Living in this area for more than 30 years where there is a huge military presence, I’ve grown to know a lot of military personnel, some of whom are my closest friends.”
A job . . . and a family
Lee said she sees the Exchange core value in very simple light: “The Dan Daniel DC is a job, but it’s really a family. We work hard, we look out for one another. We laugh, we joke, we cry together. For those of us who have been around for a long time, we’ve gotten to know each other’s families.”
In Lee’s eyes, the Dan Daniel DC has changed dramatically since she first walked through the door to meet Jim French. In the early 2000s with a seismic shift in the technology world, the DC adapted with new delivery and inventory methods, especially for online orders from ShopMyExchange.com.
“Because of the adjustments to the demand of online products, we’ve maintained our level of relevance,” Lee said. “We continue to find new and innovative ways to ensure that our stores and direct customers receive their merchandise as quickly as possible, in one piece, and in working manner.
“Technology breaks down the barriers of time and distance. We’ve used technology inside the distribution center to help us be successful.”