Sam’s shop employees are considered family and because of that, there is loyalty, trust and an appreciation for each other. It’s no wonder why many “family” members remain as employees for a very, long time and have an appreciation for their boss, Rick Michaud.
Roger Bernier of Lisbon Falls has the greatest amount of years among all of the employees.
“I started in 1972,” he said. “It was in high school and my sister got all excited because I could get a free pizza.”
He has spent all 42 years at the Main Street shop, starting out with prep work and then working out back in the kitchen.
“My senior year, I drove delivery to the shops and when I finished school I went out back to the kitchen, which is now called the commissary where we prepare all the pastas and sauces for all the locations. We also oversee the catering.”
Why has Bernier been here so long?
“I love my job, a job that I just grew into. As many hats as I’ve worn, it’s never really been a change in position. It has just grown as the company has.”
Connie Fortin of Lewiston started working at Sam’s in 1984.
“I started right after high school at the original Main Street shop as a cashier and sandwich maker. Then became supervisor and did it all.”
She moved to the Lisbon Street location and worked as supervisor there.
“Then I left to raise children,” she said. “And I even went back to school and got an associate’s degree as a dietetics technician.”
Fortin came back in as an assistant senior shift leader at Sabattus Street in Lewiston and is now the manger in Brunswick.
“One of my favorite memories is training Rick,” she laughed. “I must have done a good job — look where he is today!”
Her favorite part of being on the Sam’s team is interacting with the customers.
“We have our regulars, but being near the coast we have our seasonals as well. I remember them all and even their orders. One couple comes in every Thursday for a tuna Italian, cut in half with two plates. He gets coffee, she gets water. Then they share a peanut butter whoopie pie. One gentleman heads to Florida and takes four dozen whoopie pies with him.”
Amy Chase of Wales is the manager at the Lisbon Falls location.
“I started here in 1999 as shift leader at Sabattus Street, then moved to Freeport and eventually became manager.”
When Lisbon Falls opened, Chase helped out in opening the store and is still manager there today.
“I just love it here,” she said. “Rick is great to work for and I love the people I work with.”
And she admits loving the customers as well.
“Harold is one of my favorites. He comes in every day, sometimes twice. He almost always orders a half of an Italian sandwich, double ham, and mixes it up with a small pizza or salad. And then we have this adorable couple that came in right after we opened with a party of people to celebrate their anniversary. Although they come in a few times a month, they always celebrate their anniversary here; they have now been married 70 years. They are so cute, she orders and he gets the table, and they always sit together on the same side.”
Dan Lahey lives in Greene and is now the manager on Lisbon Street in Lewiston.
“I started with Sam’s in 1986 while I was in high school,” he said, “making sandwiches at Minot Avenue.”
Lahey has moved around to the different locations, while training and opening the shops.
“I helped out at Rumford, then to Main Street, then to Augusta,” he said.
“In 2006, I filled in as manager in Brunswick for a few months and also managed Freeport.”
He traveled to Waterville when that shop opened and then returned back to Brunswick and Freeport.
Lahey really enjoys the change.
“Everything is different at each location and it’s a new challenge every day, no matter where I am. I could be training, making sandwiches or I could be changing light bulbs; I just like that.”
Lahey is currently at the Lisbon Street location and has been since 2011.
“I enjoy my job here, and the people I work for and with. I think I’m here to stay at Lisbon Street, but you never know. If they need me somewhere else, that’s where I’ll be.”
Wendy Chapman lives in Lewiston and is the manager at the Sam’s on Minot Avenue in Auburn.
“I started on Sabattus Street as an hourly employee,” she said. “That lasted about a week and I became shift leader. A year later I became senior shift leader and shortly after I helped open Marketplace Mall.”
In 2006, she was promoted to manager and in 2011 was transferred to Minot Avenue and has remained there ever since.
Favorite parts of her job?
“Both the staff and the guests. I have one person who used to come into Marketplace and now she has followed me to Minot Avenue to have her Sunday morning coffee. You get close to the customers and they become family as does the staff.”
Chapman likes getting into the spirit of things.
“Here, the pattern is different, but mostly things are the same, so when there are holidays I love to get involved and dress up in costume. It really changes things a bit and adds some fun at the same time.”
She loves her job at Sam’s.
“They are just the best to work for! And I also met my husband here. He works at the Main Street location. I trained him, and did it so well, I married him. Now Jim and I have five family members working here at Sam’s!”
Melanie Edwards lives in Mechanic Falls and is the manager on Center Street in Auburn.
“It was in 1986 and I was fresh out of high school and had just gotten married. I started at Minot Avenue when it first opened. It was a part-time day shift. By the time I left in 1989 I was senior shift leader.”
She took a few years off to begin a family, coming back to join the team in 1995. She started off on Main Street in Lewiston and then to Center Street in Auburn where she is now manager.
Edwards admits you have to love people to work at Sam’s.
“And I also enjoy the other employees. Some you work with for so long and others you work with as they make their way through high school and college. You start to know them at the age of 15 or 16 and the next thing you know, they are coming in with their children. I think that is the best part, just knowing you made an impact in their life and they want to return and show you their new family and where they are now.”
And odd requests for a meal?
“Well, maybe it wasn’t odd to the customer, but someone came in and ordered a tuna pizza, with the mayo and sauce. He must have liked it as he returned the next day for another one.”
Jim Chapman lives in Lewiston and came to Sam’s shortly after being discharged from the army in 2000.
“I started on Sabattus Street and that’s where I met my wife! She had started six months before me. But, I’m sure she’s told you the story of how she trained me — and of course how she married me!”
He then went on to help at Lisbon Street and also helped out open the new location at Marketplace Mall in Lewiston.
“By the time I left Sabattus Street I was a shift leader. I came to Main Street in 2001 as a senior shift leader and within a few years became manager and have been here since.”
He loves that so many family members work at Sam’s.
“Five in all and we couldn’t work at a better place or for better people. They truly care about their employees. And I believe Sam’s loves being family oriented for their customers.”
Chapman says Main Street is one busy place.
“Especially during the week. We have many come from local offices and the hospital as well. It can get pretty crazy and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Melissa Crooker of Litchfield started working at Sam’s in her late teens.
“It was in 1990 and it was an hourly job making pizza. I started in Brunswick and was moved to Lisbon Street. Actually Rick was my manager and Connie Fortin was the assistant manager.”
She took some time off to get married and become a mom.
“I returned in 2008 and started on Center Street where I stayed for a few months. I was promoted to shift leader and went to Lisbon Street where I stayed for about a year. Then I went to Freeport and became manager.”
After two years, Crooker went to help out at the Mobil Mart opening.
“That was really stepping out of the box and a great challenge. It was our first at opening inside a convenience store. We had to try things like selling pizza by the slice — things that were quick and out the door.”
Within three months she went to Marketplace Mall and has been there ever since. Crooker says Sam’s is just the best to work for:
“There aren’t many places that you go to work and love your boss. If it wasn’t for Rick as well as Dan, my district manager, I wouldn’t be here.”
Dan Poulin of Gray is currently one of the two district managers at Sam’s.
“I started on Main Street in 1984. I can remember Mr. Bennett coming into the shop to visit. He would be joking with both the customers and employees, putting a smile on everyone’s face.”
Poulin was promoted to the Center Street store in Auburn in 1985 as the manager.
“Then in 1989 I was transferred to the Minot Avenue location and was the manager there till I be became district manager in 2005.”
A district manager’s day is never dull.
“We do a lot of hands-on,” he explained. “We get in there and help each shop at least a couple of times a week as that is the only way we can be sure operations are functioning to the expectations held to us. We care for the manager’s needs as well. Sometimes it’s just overseeing to be sure that everything is the best quality and up to specs, and then there is trouble shooting if any issue arises.”
Poulin is one on the longest employees of Sam’s and he is certain it will stay that way.
“I love the day-to-day activity. It’s sort of the same, but also different in many ways. But most of the time, we are where we want to be and that is out in the field helping our employees do the best job for our customers.”
Andy Morin lives in Sabattus and is the other district manager at Sam’s.
“I started out in 1989 as a shift leader, shortly after being discharged from the army. After my training was done, I was assigned to Sabattus Street and about a year later was sent to Brunswick as a shift leader. I was promoted to manager in 1992.”
After leaving for a short while, Morin happened to meet up with Rick in 2001, who asked him to come back.
“I jumped at the chance!” Morin said. “I was working for a competitor and as the saying sort of goes, I tried the rest — now back to the best. I managed Marketplace when it first opened and then from there helped open Lisbon Falls in 2005. After helping out at different locations, I ended up on Minot Avenue as manager. Even my two kids have worked at Sam’s as they went through school.”
In 2011, Morin was promoted to district manager.
“Basically, we are the glue that holds everything together. Making sure standards are implemented correctly: things like cleanliness, product quality and problem solving. We act as a filter for Rick, yet keep him in the loop at the same time.”
Morin’s favorite part of his job is the problem solving.
“It’s a challenge to come up with a solution, yet so rewarding when any issue is resolved. It can be as simple as someone needing a day off, to implementing specials, to solving a complicated issue.”
One benefit is the public.
“I really enjoy the public and seeing the many faces each day. And the employees are great too, although it can be a bit scary when my employee’s kids come in looking for a job, making me feel old.”
He explains that his job is all about a great level of service and doing it with a level of speed.
“We are not considered a fast-food place, but we give people good food fast.”