Employee Spotlight: Rita Lacroix
Dallas Branch Manager Rita Lacroix first began working for Labatt in 1984, a week after graduating from high school. From her start in Customer Service to overseeing the Dallas branch, Rita has seen a tremendous amount of growth in business.
What were your first years like working at Labatt?
“I started with Labatt right after high school and continued there for the four years I was at UT Austin. I worked during spring break, Christmas break and summer vacation whenever they needed me. I mainly worked in Customer Service taking customer orders when the sales reps went on vacation, but also relieved Mr. Labatt’s receptionist, Lucille, for lunch. I worked in the Accounting department with Pat Long and her fun group of people and was the back up for payroll.
After college, I worked for Land O’ Lakes in Boston where I was an account manager and direct rep for Hallsmith Sysco. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to get back to working with the good guys, the people that conducted business with strong, ethical guidance. Labatt had just opened the Dallas warehouse and needed a National Account rep. I had only been to Dallas a couple of times (and that was on a bus to Cowboys games), but I was ready to take on the challenge.
Later, Blair and Al needed to fill the Dallas manager position. They asked me to take the position, but I hadn’t ever managed anyone. Al said he would train me and would make sure I knew what I was doing. I agreed to take the position until they found somebody; they still haven’t found anybody. Actually, I grew naturally into the position. I love to help people achieve their best. My #1 objective is finding good people and keeping them.”
How has Dallas’ business grown since you started there?
“One of the biggest challenges in the beginning was being the little distributor in a big city like Dallas, where we didn’t have a lot of references. When I first started we had five routes and did about 10 million in yearly sales. There were about four sales reps. We’ve come a long way since then. We’ve grown to 50 routes and just last week we had a record week with over six million in sales.
I think since I’ve started we’ve had about six additions to the building. We added a new dry warehouse in 2001 and this last edition we doubled the capacity of the old dry warehouse by raising the roof.”
Tell us about your team in Dallas.
“I love the people I work with. They’re the reason we’re where we are today. I work with people like James Parsons and William Wilkerson who have managed receiving through warehouse additions and sales growth over all these years. Tom Lamar has managed the maintenance of the facility from our tiny 1960’s warehouse to the almost 300,000 square foot state-of-the-art warehouse we’re in now. And the sales department includes Bobby Seher, who was not only our first school sales representative here in Dallas, but has been with Labatt Dallas since it was just a sales office with no warehouse.
The main thing about the Dallas group is that they work together as a team and aren't afraid to have fun. When things get tough, like with the current driver shortage we’re experiencing, it’s apparent that they are true professionals. Everyone gets to work and takes care of our customers. Through the tough times, we never skip a beat. I couldn't imagine working anywhere else.”
What do you love most about working for a company like Labatt?
“I love working for a company that is in business for the right reasons. I believe that we are a beacon of integrity and goodness in an industry that believes gaining market share by increasing shareholder value is the objective rather than helping customers thrive and succeed.
Labatt adds value to their customers’ business. We are here to help them grow and be successful. That’s the goal in everything we do. ”