Hi, I’m Deb Austin, Category Manager at Rhodes Convenience Stores. I was with the Ste. Genevieve Rhodes location before it was even a Rhodes. I officially became a Rhodes team member in April 1984. I don’t want to be anywhere else, so reaching my 40-year anniversary and continuing to more work anniversaries shouldn’t be a problem.
Like I said, I worked in the small gas station that occupied the current Ste. Genevieve Rhodes before Rhodes purchased the store. I stayed there through the transfer of ownership. Some of my fellow teammates joke that “I came with the building.” Over my years here, I became a General Manager, a District Manager over multiple Rhodes locations and eventually reached my current position of Category Manager at the corporate office in Cape Girardeau.
You’re probably wondering what a Category Manager does. I’ll explain. When you walk into a convenience store, the hundreds of different products are grouped into specific categories like fresh food (pizza, fried chicken), cold dispense (fountain drinks), hot dispense (coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate), packaged beverage (non-alcoholic bottles and cans), etc. I select the products and suppliers that will be featured in Rhodes locations. Do you want to try the new Reese’s peanut butter cups with pretzels in them. I make sure they’re at Rhodes along with the all-peanut-butter Reese’s cups. Are you obsessed with a specific energy drink to get going in the morning. I make sure it’s available in our coolers. Do you need a charger before your phone runs out of battery life. Rhodes is ready to rescue you from hunger and a dead phone because I make sure our stores stock everything you need to stay on the go.
Yes, finding and providing new and interesting products to our guests is fun and challenging, but something larger had to keep me here all these years. It’s the people at Rhodes that have made me loyal to this company. I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of really great people over the years. Everyone from customer service representatives to store managers and those of us in the office help make the company the best it can be. We all work to practice our first core value, respect and trust our team and guests because the basis for great relationships is respect and trust. Both have to be earned from our guests so they keep coming back. We also earn them from our team members. It’s what gets them to stay with Rhodes and build the culture we have today.
If you’re looking for a fun job with great people, I encourage you to join Rhodes. Yes, there is a lot of work to it, but we have the best guests and team members. Start by visiting www.Rhodes101.com and submit your application online. If you get hired, be open to learning new things. Remember to have patience and have fun!