WAHOO – Beckie Lacey started working at Pizza Hut when she was a student at Kennedy College in Wahoo.
That was in 1973.
Now 45 years later, she still enjoys her work.
“I really enjoy my job, the people I work with and the town. It’s a great place to grow up in,” Lacey said.
However, Lacey wasn’t alone last week in celebrating her 45th anniversary with the restaurant owned by Staab Management in Grand Island.
On Dec. 5, Ken Staab, founder of Staab Management, and his son, Dave Staab, president of Staab Management, stopped by for a surprise visit.
Ken Staab said Lacey has touched many lives over the years. Many area residents had their first real jobs there with Lacey as their first boss.
He said she helped to see them grow into productive and responsible employees before they moved on to other things in life.
“Beckie is in the people business and has done a fantastic job over the years,” Ken Staab said.
Dave Staab said the town is very fortunate to have someone like Lacey, who has had an incredible impact on the people here.
“She’s very integrated into the community and it’s incredible to have someone who has had the impact she has,” he said.
He said Lacey is one of only maybe two of their 68 managers that have been active in the business for more than 40 years.
Dave Staab said they perpetuate a workplace culture of investment in people and Lacey has gone above and beyond for it.
“A business is no stronger than the people who run it,” he added. “Beckie really is one in a million. The success of Wahoo’s Pizza Hut is Beckie.”
Lacey said she was a little overwhelmed by the Staab management visit. They also presented her with a pizza plate plaque, signed by members of the Grand Island office.
“It means a lot to me,” Lacey said.
Lacey started working at Pizza Hut part-time in September of 1973. She was going to Kennedy College on a track scholarship and needed the money. Two years later, Kennedy College closed its doors and Lacey was asked to be assistant manager. She eventually became the manager.
She said she has been heavily involved in various programs. She has hired 12 employees as part of Region V Services employment program, served on the board of directors for the Civic Center, volunteered at Saunders County Lost Pets and sets up the Pizza Hut tent for the Saunders County Fair every year.
“I try to do something for the community every five years,” Lacey said. “I like to do a lot of little things around town.”
She said for a lot of young employees at the Pizza Hut, she knows it is their first job and she wants them to have a good work ethic that will serve them well in the future when they leave. She said it teaches them to treat others as they’d like to be treated.
“I’ve got the best employees in town,” Lacey said. “I love to see them grow.”
She said retirement hasn’t really been much of a thought to her. She had said that she would retire when her first grandchild worked for her, but even then she still came into work. She said she enjoys it far too much and won’t be retiring for a while yet.