She’s been around for 45 of our 85 years
I always smile when I’m referred to as a long-tenured employee. In fact, I’m the fourth longest-tenured employee at American Family Insurance right now.
Yes, 45 years is a long time to work at the same place, but I’ve loved every minute of it. And, that’s why I’ve stayed so long. I love my job, or my many jobs as you will see.
My actual start date with American Family was Dec. 12, 1967. I started on my daughter’s first birthday. However, right out of high school in 1965 I worked for American Family for six months. Then I left, went to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to learn keypunch, and returned two years later.
As I write this blog, I’m wondering how many of you have any idea what the function of a keypunch operator was and how that responsibility fit into the evolution of computer technology. In short, my job was to enter specific data on a card by punching holes in it. Then, the cards were fed into an early, huge, noisy computer that knew how to read the data by the missing slots on the card.
In 1967, we only had one American Family building in Madison, Wis., at 3099 E. Washington Ave. I started in the Northwest Keypunch unit, and then a year later I moved to facilities in Office Administration. I remained an employee of the Office Administration Division for the next 44 years. Not many employees who have been with our company for 40 years or more completed all those years in the same division.
The records and fixed assets were always my first responsibility and I continued keypunching until CRTs – our first computers – were purchased.
I’ve had many responsibilities, however, especially during my early years. I thought you might find a few of them interesting. Remember, when I started doing them, personal computers or calculators did not exist. The term Information Services did not exist either – we manually completed every task.
- I was the first and only archives clerk – I collected historical documents and memorabilia.
- Maintained every safety film.
- Worked in a male-dominated division. At that time, every employee was a man, except in support functions.
- I updated the company phone book several times a year – until it was put online.
- I processed all purchase orders and invoices for fixed assets.
- I did physical inventories of furniture and equipment.
- I ordered all telephones for the Madison complex until 1980.
- I designed the records centers at Cottage Court and National Headquarters.
- In 1987, I became records retention supervisor, and in 2002, I was promoted to records retention manager.
I’m going to officially retire at the end of this year, but my last day of work will be this month. American Family is special to me because of all the different jobs I have been involved in. There was always something new to learn, to embrace, and to challenge me. The technology changes in 45 years have been amazing. The move from paper records to electronic records was the biggest change to impact me.
One of my favorite people at American Family was Buzz Buchanan. He was my boss and so encouraging. He was a big believer in education and urged me to work for a two-year associate degree from Madison Area Technical College. American Family gave me the time to pursue education and supported my efforts financially.
I have great company memories. Like many, my favorite memories include the bowling sweeper, treat days – where treats ran from one end of the room to the other – and divisional outings. I loved the Christmas parties and birthday and anniversary celebrations.
I plan to keep learning after retirement. I love to read and keeping active and social is a big part of my personality. So, as American Family celebrates 85 great years, I will begin my new life with nothing but gratitude in my heart for my many years here. Happy birthday, American Family! I will miss you, and all the wonderful people. I will keep my eye on what new endeavors you are up to next.
Pat Peirce is a records retention manager for American Family Insurance.