After 50 years, we still don’t want to see Luann go.
It was the summer of 1972. Nixon is charged with Watergate. Bobby Fisher beats Boris Spaasky in chess. The Godfather was in theaters, and youngsters were disco-dancing to Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly.
And, a recent northern Ohio high school graduate needs a job. Luann Edinger’s English teacher knew the manager at the local The Andersons Garden Center who was hiring a part-time cashier. It was her first job, and when Luann started at The Andersons, she remembers getting hand-written birthday cards from Dick Anderson.
Nine US presidents later, Luann continues to be a rockstar contributor to the Rail accounting team and this month has decided to close her excel spreadsheet to retire. 49 years with The Andersons and one year with us at AITX. We were thrilled to have her and honored to celebrate her impressive legacy.
Luann did not last long as a cashier. She was promoted to do bank deposits for the Garden Center before Rosie Feeback hired her into the new Maumee location as a staff accountant. Luann never looked back where she was an accountant at The Andersons for nearly every division. Lawn & Fertilizer. Pet Food. Joint Ventures. Retail. Fab Shop. And, then the Rail team for over 25 years. She highlights some of her biggest accomplishments as helping to design and implement the Baan computer system (“way back in the day”… with a chuckle and sigh) and the acquisition of Atlanta’s Rail Car Limited in 2005.
“That’s 50 years with the same company. Countless positions. Not one job interview. That’s must say something?”
When asked about a moment that stood out, she paused with a “gosh, there are way too many.”
Then, Luann recalled joining the Fab Shop team back in the early in 1990s. The week before she got into a fender bender car accident with a train (we also had a lot of questions???). When she came back from the hospital to work, she was moved to the fabrication shop. The first day she remembers crossing eight sets of rail tracks to get to her desk. With each track crossing, she thought this must have been a curse for hitting that railcar, which seemed to be even more true when she got to her desk which was in a trailer with no heat and her “office mates were a family of rodents.” There were so few female employees back then that her trailer had no bathroom. She had to walk through the shop manager’s office to use the ladies’ restroom.
But, little did she know it was her first step toward the rail business. As she joined the rail team shortly thereafter. And, Luann looks back fondly on the rail groups at The Andersons and AITX.
“The Rail Team has always felt like one big family whether the people in the office or in the shops. People who look out for each other – resolve the issues in front of them to always keep customers happy and get the job done. And, of course, make time for a cocktail after work.“
While she has worked with many great people, Luann has a lot of gratitude for Steve Schwind and Tom Connolly who were long-time mentors and taught her many things about the accounting and finance profession.
She also wanted to thank Sean Hankinson, Chief Commercial Officer of AITX, who always has been fair, clear, and motivated.
“You always know what to expect, so it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. It is a motivated group that knows how to laugh at themselves and have enjoy each other. If you can’t have fun, then it’s not worth going in every day.“
While Luann was only at AITX at the tail-end of a long journey, she has great things to say about the experience. She specifically pointed to her trip to St. Charles, Missouri with the full Maumee team. Getting to meet new colleagues in-person and in-celebration was a highlight.
“Putting faces with names of the new AITX employees was a great team-building event.“
And, of course, she always loved a good golf outing.
So what is next for Luann?
She wants to play more golf and travel. When she settles into retirement life, she plans to give back to the Toledo community and has her sights on working with animal-rights and well-being organizations like the Toledo Zoo, Humane Society, and the Nature Rescue Unit.
Whatever you plan to do, Luann, know there is also a team rooting for you at AITX. You are one of a kind – a friend, mentor, colleague, and pro. Best of luck from all of us.