After more than 10 years of service at Ladysmith A&W, Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all expenses paid vacations through Marlin Travel – courtesy of franchise owners Jason and Lorie Kelland.
Kelland said that he wanted to do something to recognize the contributions Frenchy, Aleck, and Jack, have made to the franchise over the years.
“We wanted to give them an experience they may not be able to afford otherwise. We wanted to make sure they felt their value, and how much we appreciate them,” Kelland said.
Frenchy, who is a shift manager and supervisor, is headed to Mexico with his wife Loretta at the end of May.
“It’s the best thing ever. I never thought this would have happened,” Frenchy said.
It’ll be the couple’s first time heading to Mexico, and the second time leaving Canada.
Frenchy said he loves working at A&W because it gets him involved in the community. He’s also involved in the Thursday evening Cruisin’ the Dub event where classic cars from all over the Island drive out to the A&W. Near the front counter, there’s photos of several classic cars parked outside A&W. Frenchy is featured in many of the photos.
“It’s grown so much to a point where we’ve had cruisers come from the states to check out our car show,” he said. “We’re well known up and down the Island. We’ve had people from Courtenay, Parksville, and Victoria. They’ll make sure they stop here and grab a burger.”
Jack has been with A&W for a little more than 10 years. She said owners Jason and Laurie Kelland are ‘loving people’, and that she’s learned a lot from them.
“I had next to nothing for management skills. I started off in the back doing onion rings, and made my way up to supervisor. I now do banking, and ordering – I learned a lot from them,” Jack said.
She’s also become more of a people person. When she first started working up front, Jack said her cheeks were sore because she’d never smiled so much in her life.
Jack is also headed to Mexico. She goes on February 24. The furthest she’s even been is Las Vegas, where she went last year.
“It’s made me even more proud of my dedication and hard work,” Jack said. “I’m going to love it so much, I’ll probably start travelling more.”
When she’s back from her trip, Jack is going to start saving up to take her family on a vacation.
“I’ve never really thought of [travelling] as an option. I always stayed on Island. I wasn’t big on travelling, it wasn’t a priority. It wasn’t an interest. But now it is. It’s life changing – for the better.”
Katherine Aleck has been with A&W for 14 years. She said the furthest she’s been out of Canada is Lummi, Washington 15 or 20 years ago – which was the last time she left the country.
Aleck’s husband uses a wheelchair, so they are looking at more accessible options like an Alaskan cruise.
“I’ve always wanted to try a cruise,’ Aleck said. “I didn’t expect this at all. It’s awesome. I felt so happy that they appreciate what I’ve been doing here all these years.”
This is all part of the reward based system in place at Ladysmith A&W. Rewards are given at one, three, five, and 10 years of service. After one year, employees get an engraved pin. At three years, employees get a plaque on the wall. At five years, they get a $500 gift card of their choice, and another plaque. The 10 year is the all-inclusive trip. Employees also get gifts on their birthdays.
“I’ve noticed a big change since we’ve implemented the rewards based program,” general manager Alicia Golling said. “The staff morale has changed in a good way. People are wanting to stay with us and put in that time.”
Word has gotten out about the program, and Golling said she now has a wide field of potential employees to hire.
Ladysmith A&W is the only location between Nanaimo and Duncan, and it can get extremely busy. Over the past 10 years, sales have increased from $800,000 to $1.9 million annually.