In September of 1969, Kathy Bailey was a senior in high school when she started working for Levi Strauss & Co. as a part-time file clerk. Now, 50 years later, she is a Transportation Manager in Hebron, Kentucky. Kathy was recently recognized for her half century of service to the company. To celebrate her milestone, we asked her a few questions about her career with the company.
How did you get your start at LS&Co.?
At that time, I was a senior enrolled in business classes at my high school. I had so many credits that I only had to go to school in the morning, so I started working as part-time file clerk in the afternoons. There wasn’t a scanner back in those days – just baskets and baskets full of paper to file.
What other roles have you had at the company?
I was a customer service representative for the New York region. We would field requests like changing ship dates where we would fill out a form and it would go into a keypunch order. Then, I was a secretary for the Inventory Manager and Computer Operations Manager. I still see the Inventory Manager today – he does my taxes.
At the time when secretaries became extinct in our department, I went into transportation which was probably in 1989. Later, we moved to Hebron in 1999. I was one of the first employees in Hebron to tests all the systems. It took about a year to get all the systems inaugurated to meet requirements for LS&CO’s order processing flow.
Two daughters and twenty years later, I went back to college and got my degree in business as I had a desire to advance in the company. This was an intimidating move but with the support of my family and the flexibility I was granted at work, I completed classes at night and a few classes during my lunch. Having LS&Co. invest in my future with tuition reimbursement made it all possible.
Why do you think you have been so successful in your career?
I’m a problem solver. I can’t stand to have over, under or damaged inventory. I look at that like a loss of my money. They used to make fun of me because I would go out into the warehouse myself to find cartons. I used to comment to my co-workers that these boxes didn’t just grow legs and walk off. I get satisfaction of making things right.
What’s your favorite item of LS&Co. clothing in your closet?
Nowadays, I like Signature and Denizen® brands. They are really comfortable – that’s important as you get older.
What advice would you give to people just starting out in their careers?
Show the people respect. It’s great to have new idea and make suggestions because that’s what makes a company successful, but don’t be a know it all. Listen to the people. Respect the people that you work with and then you will be successful. Also know you can make lifelong friends in which I have been very fortunate to have done. The people make all the difference not only in your career but in your personal life, when you spend so much time at work your co-workers and each of us share the milestones in our life. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and pulled a lot of strength during those times from my family and friends, another reason for staying close to the LS&Co. family as we all need support when life throws us curves.
Another employee, Joe Frank, spent 72 years working for LS&Co. He retired in 1968 at the age of 91 right before you started. What do you think? Are you going for his record?
No way! I knew about him… but there’s no way I’m working that long. For a long time, I had a personal goal of 50 years. And here we are!
Where can we find you when you are not at work?
Spending time with my husband, two daughters, and son-in-law’s, and two grandsons. You will often find me and my husband in antique shops, he collects Santa Clauses and I collect porcelain hands.
I’m also a big reader. My daughter is a writer and just had her book published so I’m, of course, reading that.