Somebody's Gotta Do It: Freezer warehouseman

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In his world, it is wintertime year around, but his is no winter wonderland.

Every day he works in freezing temperatures, sometimes 10 or 15 degrees below zero.  His name is Jimmy Stanaland.  He is a warehouseman responsible for protecting the quality and inventory of the frozen products stored at the Brookshire Bros. Warehouse off north Loop 287 in Lufkin.

Eighteen-wheelers are a constant sight at the facility bringing in truckloads of goods.  Once the trucks are unloaded and the product is tagged it is Stanaland's job to put it up.

"Jimmy is a warehouseman works primarily in the receiving department to bring product in and ensure that the quality and dating is proper, that it is received in the proper count, and to make sure that the product goes in to the location in the warehouse for proper storage.  This is extremely critical in the perishable side of our business because it ensures quality for our the consumers," said consultant Edgar Burton, retired Senior VP Brookshire Bros.

Stanaland has been working for Brookshire Bros. for 39 years, 37-and-1/2 of them in the freezer warehouse storing frozen meats, deli, and dairy products.  He says 34 degrees inside the warehouse is warmer than 34 degrees outside.  On the day we visited it sure did not feel warmer on the inside.

Perhaps Stanaland feels warmer as he zips around the warehouse because he has little time to think about being cold. "You have to get along with everybody you work around.  You have to be careful when you're using heavy equipment.  You have to watch everybody, plus, yourself cause you're liable to come out of that vault and somebody'll just step right in front of you at last minute. You have to be aware at all times, all of this heavy equipment (safety first) safety first (head nods)," said Stanaland.

"The greatest pride that a man can have is to see his co-workers be successful. That is an extreme source of pride for me to have people that I've worked with like Jimmy Stanaland and other people in the distribution center here," observed Burton.

Stanaland says there was a time during the warehouse's computer transition period that he questioned whether or not he would be smart enough to handle the more sophisticated equipment.  Nowadays, he would not dream of working without it.  "Computers, they're the best.  They do all kinds of fancy stuff.  It's not just a simple job anymore.  You gotta know what you're doing a lot better than back in the old days, it is just real sophisticated."

And now thanks to his supervisor he has caught the attention of RefrigiWear, the largest manufacturer of cold environment garments, like insulated clothing and boots, gloves, in the United States.

Stanaland is the recipient of the 2011 RefrigiWear Lifetime Achievement Award.  He was awarded a plaque and a custom jacket during a ceremony this month.

"It's not a real thankful job, kinda low profile and kept under the radar and everything.  Our vice president about 10 years ago came up with this award, customers just love it and it's great for the warehouse people," said Frank Casteel, Regional Sales Director for RefrigiWear, Inc.

"Jimmy has been a stellar employee of the company, partner for 39 years.  He's an employee and partner we should all aspire to do, be regardless of our job or profession.  Jimmy has been a real trooper with the company.  I've worked with him for the past 22 years and we need more folks like Jimmy," said Burton.

Stanaland says after almost four decides he still is not used to working in the cold.  "No, (shakes head) you never get used to working in the cold, you have to like it, not everybody can do it.  I don't think I couldn't work in the heat."

Stanaland says the best part of his job is the family atmosphere.  And, yes, if he gets too cold he takes a break to warm up.

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