Wherever Strack & Van Til’s Ashleigh Marlow goes, she has always been active and involved in more than what is expected. From as early on as her experiences at Chesterton High School, where she was heavily involved in the orchestra playing the violin, Marlow worked with middle schoolers who were interested in learning the instrument, served as the student athletic trainer for the football team, was active in color guard and took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself.
After high school, Marlow went to college in South Carolina where she began to study foods and nutrition.
“They actually got rid of my major which was unexpected and devastating at the time,” Marlow said. “After that I came back home to Chesterton because at that point, other than food and nutrition, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
Marlow returned to Northwest Indiana and immediately started working at Wise Way in Chesterton as a cashier.
“I was there for about four months before the store was bought by Strack & Van Til,” said Marlow. “When Strack & Van Til took over, there was a lot of opportunity to grow with the company at that point. I was only four months in as a cashier and they asked me if I would like to do the payroll at the store and be the H.R. coordinator.”
“I learned the ropes of those two positions and I went from serving the customers to serving the associates there at the Chesterton Strack & Van Til. I did a lot of the community outreach and made sure our store was involved in different events in Chesterton. A lot of opportunity came from doing payroll and H.R. so I was doing that until April of 2015.”
As Marlow shined in her position, her supervisor at that time recruited her to take on a new role with the company. Marlow jumped at the opportunity to take on that new role, which was to build a centralized orientation system where new hirees would all learn the same things no matter where their training would take place.
“In the past if you got hired for the Chesterton store you would go through orientation class in Chesterton,” said Marlow. “It just made sense because you’re getting hired at that store. Well we wanted to shift gears a bit as a company and we wanted to make sure those new hires were all getting the same information. It didn’t matter where that training was taking place, whether in Indiana or Illinois.”
Marlow was asked to lead the Indiana Centralized Orientation Classes which take place at seven different ‘hubs’ that Strack & Van Til has across Northwest Indiana where training takes place. Marlow worked with a co-worker to build the training program, travel to each ‘hub’ and train associates who would ultimately be educating new Strack employees.
After not having been with the company for very long, it was surprising and encouraging to Marlow to be recruited for that position amongst many other employees.
“It was a major compliment and I did not see that coming!” Marlow said. “I didn’t understand at first why, but I guess I asked a lot of questions and really took ownership of my position there at the Chesterton store and that’s something that they caught on to. Whenever there was an issue I was on it so it’s all been a very humbling experience.”
Marlow now wears many hats for Strack & Van Til. While working on the centralized orientation project, Marlow helped put together a separate presentation for the company’s front-end managers that caught the eye of Strack & Van Til Vice President of Public Relations, Chris Bengtson.
“He thought I would be a great representative of the company so he started engaging me in different community activities,” Marlow said of her first steps into public relations on behalf of Strack & Van Til. “I’ve been doing public relations with Chris (Bengston) for over a year now and I really love it. It’s a lot of fun, hard work and it’s a very rewarding aspect to the job.”
“It’s been really cool getting to be under Chris’ (Bengtson) wing and get to pick his brain, and see how he would respond to a situation. It’s been good to see that in action. I know that’s boosted my confidence and how I communicate with others.”
Marlow considers herself lucky to be a part of the team at Strack & Van Til.
“Strack & Van Til has been so good to me. It’s not just a job for me, it’s a career. When I first entered retail I thought it would be just a job to get me through until I found the real job that I wanted to do. It’s neat to see how it’s cultivated into something else. They do very good job to try and shape you in the person that they see that you can become. I know that I’m in good hands here and there’s so much room to grow.”
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