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On Friday, Jan. 31, Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) held a luncheon at its Jessup headquarters in honor of salesman Mitch Laziuck, who has retired from the company after 42 years of service. The event started at 11:30 a.m. and drew at least 200 RNDC staffers; customers; vendors; Laziuck's wife, Patty; and his daughter, Heather, and her husband.
RNDC Executive Vice President Gary Herd served as the emcee. "It goes without saying that Mitch has had a tremendous impact on our company throughout the years," he stated, while at the podium. "When you think about 42 years, that's a lifetime, and he's seen a lifetime of change at this company. He has seen brands grow, and those are brands we all reap the benefits of today."
In an interview with the Beverage Journal the day before the event, Laziuck was relaxed, jovial, and full of stories of his four decades in the business. He recalled working part-time at Western Auto in 1972 when he managed to score an interview at what was then the Kronheim Company. "My dad didn't think they were going to hire a Polish kid, because back then Kronheim was predominantly Jewish. 'Forget it, Mitch. It ain't gonna happen,' he said. I ended up interviewing six times, and I finally got it. Forty-three years later, I'm retiring from the only full-time job I've ever had!"
Among those who were on hand to honor Laziuck with speeches of their own was Fran "Pineapple" Schmitz, Business Development Manager at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and former Fine Wine Division Manager for RNDC. His remembrances of their days together as wheeling and dealing salesmen in the 1980s were among the event's most comical. "I've spent more time thinking about the stories I could tell as opposed to stories I couldn't tell," Schmitz stated . "Then, I saw Patty and Heather walk in, and that knocked out 10 stories I thought I could tell right there!"
Two letters were also read during the celebration. The first was from Tom White, RNDC's regional president for Florida, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It concluded: "You have been and will remain one of the foundation blocks this company has been built on." The second letter was from RNDC President Tom Cole, who wrote: "It takes a special person to devote so much of his life and his entire career to a single organization. We recognize that the dedication and loyalty of employees like you are what made RNDC what it is today."
In his remarks to those gathered, Laziuck marveled at how much bigger the business is today than when he started. Back then, he worked for a company that had just over 40 salesmen. Today, RNDC's sales staff, by his estimation, numbers more than 225. And Laziuck has served as a mentor to so many of them.
"If you are coming into the business today," he remarked, "you have to make a statement. You are your own person, and you have to convince clients, 'I'm different. I can help you with your business.' You don't want to be the guy who walks into a store and asks, 'Do you need anything this week?' 'No, not really.' And then you walk back out the door. That was never me."
Herd wrapped up the festivities by singling out Laziuck's willingness to help his colleagues over the years. Herd described him as the model employee, stating, " He always showed up every day with a smile on his face and a good attitude. He never complained, even when the customers were being difficult or trucks were getting out late. He was always prepared for a sales meeting, more prepared than most of us in this room today. He always had his sales plan ready. He always put RNDC first. He was selfless in the way he treated our company. He always worked a full day and, most days, more than a full day. That's what Mitch was all about, and that's hopefully what we learned from Mitch over the years"
So, what do the years to come have in store for Laziuck and his lovely wife? In the near future, a Mediterranean cruise is their next great adventure. After that? Laziuck let out a hearty laugh and exclaimed, "I'm gonna sell peanuts on the beach in the Bahamas!"