Strack & Van Til honors longtime employees at annual Years of Service Luncheon

Strack & Van Til honors longtime employees at annual Years of Service Luncheon

Over 100 employees boasting a combined 2820 years of service time with Strack & Van Til gathered at Avalon Manor on Thursday, April 25, for the grocer’s annual Years of Service Luncheon. The tradition celebrates some of the people who have helped make the store the respected institution that it is – those hardworking individuals who have spent more than 15 years with the company.

Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024

Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024 35 Photos
Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024Strack & Van Til Anniversary Award Luncheon 2024

The employees were recognized on every fifth anniversary with the company, starting at 15  years and going all the way up to 50. Co-workers shared stories, celebrated achievements, and took commemorative photos, all before enjoying a great meal.

“Strack & Van Til’s success is always about the people,” said Jeff Strack, president & CEO. “It’s very rewarding to see how many people have stayed with us for all these years. That commitment says a lot about the organization, the people who work here, and what we’re doing for the community. We’re feeding people, we’re providing jobs, and helping give back to make Northwest Indiana a better place.”

The tradition stretches back decades, and associates from every Strack & Van Til store were in attendance. Some honorees started out working at the registers and have worked their way up to management positions. While others have moved from store to store before finding themselves working behind the scenes at the company office.

“Seeing that kind of growth and commitment is humbling,” reflected Derek Kinney, chief people officer. “I think it speaks volumes about the culture at our company. We have over 4000 years of combined service from employees who have spent 5 years or more with us. It goes to show that treating people with dignity and respect, and recognizing and rewarding them for their hard work pays off.”

That friendly, forward-thinking philosophy is one that stretches back to Strack & Van Til’s founding – and is something that Jeff Strack, that third-generation owner, is proud to carry on.

“Culture is the fabric of any company, and ours is something that goes back to my grandfather Ernie Strack and his partner Nick Van Til,” Strack explained. “They set the foundational guidepost, making sure that we take care of our employees, take care of our customers, and take care of the community that supports us day in and day out.”

For the employees who have served decades with the grocer, the company is as close as family, and in some cases helped them meet their families. That’s the case for Deborah Standish, who celebrated 50 years with Strack & Van Til at the luncheon.

“I met my husband working here. I was moved to the Merrillville store and he was working as a stocker at the time,” Standish recalled. “We were married for 22 years.”

Doug Van Til, supervisor, said that hearing stories like Standish’s is a big part of why the company is so special.

“It means everything. People like that are why we’re successful,” he said. “They’re the reason why people come to Van Till's. They’re the ones who do the heavy lifting, who do the day-to-day work that keeps us running.”

Standish said that the company’s flexibility and willingness to respect her family time was the key factor in earning her loyalty.

“I had three small children, and they worked around my schedule and my husband’s schedule,” she said. “Thanks to that, I was able to go to my children’s school functions and be home when needed.”

Strack credited employees such as Standish with helping to carry on the legacy started by his grandfather.

“I want to thank the managers and associates that are here today, and the thousands and thousands of others who have worked for Strack & Van Til over the years,” he said. “They’ve all helped us be who we are. It means a lot to me that we’ve been a part of so many lives here in Northwest Indiana.”

To learn more about Strack & Van Til, visit