For four decades, Madisonville shoppers have been able to see Rick Earp at their local Brookshire Brothers. Earp is now calling it a career and roamed the aisles for the final time on Sunday.
“I grew up in Madisonville, so I know Rick’s a staple here,” said Jose Lopez, store manager. “You always know you can count on him and the quality of his work so he’s going to be tough to replace. We wish him the best in the future.”
For the last couple of years, Lopez ran the Brookshire Brothers in Hempstead. While that was a great experience, he didn’t hesitate when he saw an opportunity to come back home. Now, he will be Rick’s last manager.
Earp began in October of 1974 and worked his way to running the meat department for the store. He started out knowing absolutely nothing about meat. He would clean up the store and quickly learned to cut and process meat. Six years later, he was promoted to manager.
“In the 70s, as far as the meat business is concerned, we processed all of our chickens and cut them all up,” said Earp. “Our beef came in quarters and we had to break them down and basically start from scratch.”
The everyday handling and presentation of the meat is not the only change he has witnessed. Earp also touched on the magnification of customer service throughout his tenure and how important that stands in our modern shopping life.
“Things are much more customer oriented nowadays,” said Earp. “It’s all about pleasing the customer. It’s a big deal now to make sure a customer is spoken when they enter the store and taken care of from start to finish.”
Earp started out in his 20s just looking for a job to help support his wife and newborn baby. Later, he also committed his life to Jesus Christ. He credits his faith as the biggest difference maker throughout his life and believes it has had a great impact on his work as well.
“My biggest change in motivation was in my mid-20s when I committed my life to the Lord,” said Earp. “This changed my meaning in life and will to work. I wasn’t just working for Brookshire Brothers but also to please the Lord.”
Earp admits he had no idea he would still be working at Brookshire Brothers after being hired all those years ago. As he prepares to begin a new life in retirement, Earp is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and grandchildren. He also hopes to do more church work now that he has the time.
“I’ll mostly miss the people,” said Earp. “There’s also a sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of the day knowing you’ve done your best. I’ll miss seeing other people around me learn as they improve their lives.”
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