In those days Grant’s was based at Garnet Road, the site which they left in 2015 to move into Orion Way. At the time, the site was under development, and Lorraine’s first winter with the company was spent cowering from the elements behind plastic sheeting whilst the site was extended. Lorraine was one of only five office staff.
With the company growing, Lorraine was soon promoted, firstly into a quoting role, and then into purchasing. She tried a stint at being on the road doing sales, but soon found that it wasn’t for her and returned to her customer service role on the phone.
Life moved on, and Lorraine’s pregnancy with twins saw a change in direction. Having to spend more time at home with children meant that Lorraine’s role turned part-time for a while – she would work in the morning until 1.30, and then come back late afternoon for an hour and a half to ensure everything was in order. She did these reduced hours until the children started school and then returned full time.
Lorraine remembers being surprised at the management style of David Grant when she first started: “It was rare in 1977 to be told to call a boss by his first name,” she recalls, “but that was how it was at Grant’s we were all on first name terms, meaning that the business was more like a family than a workplace. We all were respected to do our own roles, something which has continued over the years.”
David’s little shadows on occasion were often seen running around the warehouse in short trousers, causing havoc, and the staff breathed a sigh of relief when they left. Fast forward 40 years, and now Andrew and Matthew Grant are running the business – so how does that feel?
“It’s sometimes a challenge to work for people that you remember as four-year-old tearaways” says Lorraine. “I still sometimes have to check myself – I talk to them as though they’re little boys and think ‘I shouldn’t have said that!’ It’s lovely when they bring in their own sons now, and you see the family cycle happening again.”
On Tuesday 12th September, Lorraine admits she started out slightly disappointed. Whereas her colleagues and friends had made the effort to celebrate the anniversary with cards, cake, a balloon and some prosecco, there was a lack of acknowledgement from the management. “I tried not to be disappointed,” says Lorraine, “there’s a lot going on and they are very busy”.
To treat her, her close friends had said they would take her out in the evening for cocktails to mark the occasion, by which time Lorraine had given up any hope of the Grants remembering her anniversary. It was only when they got to BBs in Leeds that she realised something wasn’t quite what it seemed. “The girls were looking around being a bit odd” she recalls. “Then they insisted we went to another area. It was only then that I realised everyone was there – all my colleagues, the Management, a couple of long-term customers and Sheelagh Grant. It was such a surreal moment!”
Lorraine was presented with a souvenir book of photos by Sheelagh to mark the occasion, signed by Matthew Grant with a personal message of thanks for such a momentous level of service to the company, along with confirmation of an additional week’s holiday for this year and some spending money. “It was absolutely wonderful” says Lorraine, “I have no idea how they all managed to keep it from me. I’m on cloud nine, absolutely thrilled to bits.”
So, what does Lorraine have to say to sum up the last 40 years?
“I’ve seen so much come and go – it’s wonderful what the company has achieved since I started working there, and it’s just going from strength to strength. There is such a culture of respect and trust, which is why I think people work here for so long. It’s obviously not the same company as it was 40 years ago – it’s changed, evolved and grown hugely, as well as there being so many more rules and regulations. Having seen Andrew and Matthew climbing all over the pallets when they were children, it’s a good thing they introduced Health and Safety!
I’ve always been happy here – it seems like a long time, and many people might say I must be mad to have stayed in the same place for forty years, but I can honestly say I’ve always been happy – I’ve had a huge variety of jobs and have never wished for anything else.”
Cheers Lorraine, thank you for everything you continue to do for Grant’s, and for being such an important part of our extended family.