Longevity is not unusual in the material handling industry, where people often stay at a company for decades and tend to think of co-workers as family. But Barbara "Susie" Hafer's long career at the distribution and supply chain services firm Fortna may be unique even by that measure.
Hafer began working for the company in 1950, when Harry Truman was president and she was a 17-year-old high school student. Now, after 62 years with Fortna, she is retiring.
Hafer has seen a lot of change over her career. "When I started working, we had manual typewriters. It was a big change when we started to use electric ones. And even more so when the computers came in," she said in a company announcement. "And when I first started working, you had to wear a dress. But later we talked the boss into letting us wear pantsuits."
The 62-year veteran has also seen a lot of change at Fortna. The company has grown from a one-room operation selling forklifts to a multinational consulting firm and systems integrator with a focus on supply chain and DC operations and technology.
Hafer cited Fortna's family-friendly environment and managers who always treated her well as two of the reasons why she spent more than six decades at the company. Executives there say she sets a great example for them, too.
"It's rare to see this kind of commitment by an employee or a company these days," said President John A. White III.
"Susie is my hero," said Peter Counihan, chairman of Fortna. "She stayed with me through the tough times, always encouraging me with her great smile and her kindness. She will be sorely missed."