TRAVERSE CITY — Dave Jodway doesn’t bear the last name, but after 50 years at Oleson’s Food Stores, he’s family.
Jodway, 68, didn’t plan to build a lifelong career when he started as a bagger at the West Front Street family-owned grocery store at age 18. Jodway is now an accountant and the “behind the scenes” guy who Vice President D.J. Oleson turns to for a voice of reason and who his father, president Don Oleson, sees as a “guiding light.” The company celebrated his employment last week with a surprise party.
”He’s one of the few that have a work ethic that my grandfather did years ago that just keeps on going,” D.J. Oleson said.
Jodway, of Suttons Bay, worked with four generations of the Oleson family, beginning with Gerald Oleson and holding positions as a bagger, cashier and stocker. He studied accounting at Northwestern Michigan College and was ready to transfer to Ferris State University to obtain a CPA license when an accounting job opened at Oleson’s.
For decades he’s done payroll, wrote the checks and balanced the company’s finances.
”I’ve enjoyed all 50 years of it,” Jodway said. “Not too many people are so lucky to get into a job that they enjoy all the time and work with people they enjoy being with, so I’ve been lucky.”
D.J. Oleson described Jodway as task-oriented, driven and organized. He only recently cut back to part-time and seldom takes all his vacation time. He never missed a Monday, D.J. Oleson said, because that’s payroll day.
”He called me he said, ‘You know, my favorite day of the week is Monday,’” D.J. Oleson said. “He likes to see jobs completed.”
Jodway’s responsibilities expand beyond accountant to human resources director, though he’s beginning to pass on some of his duties.
Jodway isn’t slowing much. The reason he still works is simple: he enjoys his job and coworkers. Jodway said he’ll be at Oleson’s “as long as they’ll have me.”