UNION — A 32-year Walmart employee who began in — and eventually came back to — Union’s Walmart store has been promoted to manage the company’s store at Dorman Center in Spartanburg.
Barry Medford moved from Newport News, Va. to Union in 1981, and he began working at the former Walmart store — the building which is now Union Square Cinemas — as a stockman. He was eventually transferred to a store in Camden, and later, Newberry. He was sent back to the Union store two different times before going to the Walmart store at Hillcrest in Spartanburg. There, he had to learn the food and grocery side of the business, as many stores were transforming into Supercenters at that time. Medford worked at that store for around four years before he was promoted to co-manager, and he then went to a store in Boiling Springs where he worked for four years.
When a managerial position became available in Union, Medford was one of 22 managers from around the country who applied for the position.
“I started here in Union, and I was able to come back and run my home store,” Medford smiled.
While managing the 70,000-square-foot store, Medford anticipated the construction of the current store — a 153,000-square-foot facility with over 400,000 items.
“My wife (an employee of Sam’s Club) and I would drive behind the old Winn Dixie shopping center, and we could see up here where they were building,” Medford said, mentioning that he remembered visiting during construction when there were no floors, only dirt.
The current store opened in March 2009, and Medford recalled the cold, windy day on Friday, which was his last day at the Union store before he will go to the 210,000-square-foot store at Dorman Center. He said he could have never thought about going to a larger concept store without the people who work in Union.
“In 32 years with Walmart, I have met some really, really good people,” Medford said. “These people here work very hard, and working at Walmart is not easy; something is always changing.”
Medford remembered a quote from founder Sam Walton: “We have ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
“We are Union County people, but we strive really hard,” he said.
Medford said he is sometimes surprised by the amount of work employees get done in a work day, and they often complete tasks before they are due. He also said two employees — Rosemary Rice and Teresa Murphy — have worked at the store since he first became store manager. Laverne Boler Adams, the store’s grocery manager, began working there shortly after they did.
“They are the same person — except stronger work-wise — as they were when I left,” he said. “No matter what you ask of them, they get it done.”
Medford’s connection with his employees is apparent by the manner in which he communicates with them. One employee came to Medford’s office door on Friday to ask him a question.
“She worked here two years before I found out my wife was her Brownie Scout leader when she was a little girl,” he laughed.
Medford said he also appreciates the Union customers, who call him by name and suggest products to be ordered.
Although he is moving to a new store, Medford said he will remain close by as he will continue to live in Union, four miles from the store.
“I will be in and out,” he said, explaining that it is common for managers within a certain district to help out at other stores. “This store has so much potential, and things are going really well.”
Medford said he could only hope the employees at the Spartanburg store will be as good as those in Union.