Hi, I’m Deb Austin, Category Manager at PAJCO (the company that owns Rhodes, Imo’s Pizza restaurants and Rally’s Drive-Ins). I was with the Ste. Genevieve Rhodes 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 at least my 40-year anniversary shouldn’t be a problem.
Like I said, I worked in the small gas station that occupied the current Ste. Genevieve Rhodes before PAJCO purchased the store. I stayed there through the transfer of ownership. Over my years, I became a General Manager, a District Manager over multiple Rhode’s locations and eventually reached my current position of Category Manager at PAJCO’s corporate office in Cape Girardeau.
You’re probably wondering what a Category Manager is. I’ll explain. When you walk into a convenience store, you can categorize the hundreds of different products 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 get to select the products and suppliers that fall in those categories. Do you want to try the new Reese’s peanut butter cups with pretzels in them? I make sure they’re in Rhodes’s locations along with the new 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 phone charger before yours runs out of battery life? Rhodes is ready to rescue you, and your phone, because I make sure we stock them.
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 been the people I get to work with that have made me loyal to PAJCO. 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 have to earn them from our team members. It’s what gets them to stay with PAJCO and build the culture we have today.
If you’re looking for a fun job with great people, I encourage you to join PAJCO. 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 submitting your application online. If you get hired, be open to learning new things. Remember to have patience and have fun!
Brent Anderson had this to say about Deb, “Deb and I go back a very long way, more specifically back to my first month with the company. She has taught me more about this business than I can possibly pass on to others. Deb’s kindness and compassion for others sets an example for our entire company. Her most valuable asset to our team is her huge heart and willingness to lead and show others what our culture is really about. Genuinely, one of the kindest people you will ever meet. I’m so glad to call her my friend, and we are all blessed as she has spent the last 30+ years at PAJCO!”
Rhodes provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Rhodes complies with all applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, compensation and training. Rhodes expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability or veteran status. Improper interference and the ability of Rhodes employees to perform their job duties may result in discipline up to and including discharge.