In this installment of Meet the Kalalou Family we are very proud to introduce you to Willie Franklin. Willie heads up the Kalalou Returns Department, making sure everything is squared away to keep every customer satisfied. He has been married to his wife, Diane, for 26 years and is a father of three (Angela, Deirdre and Wayne) as well as a proud grandfather to eight grandchildren. Prior to joining the Kalalou Family 17 years ago, he worked as a factory employee for US Foods.
Willie likes to spend his downtime fishing, traveling with his family, playing with his grandchildren and working to keep his yard in tip-top shape. He feels the same traits that he brings to fishing, landscaping and family also help him in his job at Kalalou; dedication, hard work and always being on time. Not only is Mr. Willie a committed family man, he also hasn’t called in sick for a day of work in all his 17 years with Kalalou.
In the warehouse at Kalalou HQ, Mr. Willie is sometimes called “Chilly Willy.” He says he got this nickname from minding his own business and always being level headed. “I’m easygoing,” he says. “I know how to get along with everyone. I treat everyone the same, even if they are a stranger.” Perhaps this is why he can often be seen training new employees on safety procedures and proper machinery operation, helping to ensure a safe and productive workplace for his fellow employees. Mr. Willie practices patience and respect with his coworkers, knowing small contributions like that help make a huge difference in morale and efficiency. For him, the most fulfilling part of his job at Kalalou is the appreciation that he feels from the company when employees are rewarded with bonuses for hard work. “I have been working since 1977, and in all those years this is the best company I’ve ever worked for. Doug and Susan (Williams, owners), these are the best people I’ve worked for in my 40 years of experience.”
Mr. Willie will be the first to tell you that, while he is a loving family man and a dedicated employee, the reason he is so successful in those two areas of his life might be a little different than how it appears on the surface. Willie is not shy about his faith or his life experience, openly sharing with those around him that he was not always so fulfilled.
“I was a heavy drinker. I would have probably been an alcoholic if it were not for the Lord.” While traveling back from a concert over Labor Day weekend in 1994, Mr. Willie found himself in a dangerous situation and decided that it was finally time to confront his alcohol abuse. “It’s 2017 and I still have not taken another drink.” He credits this to a strength beyond himself, and encourages other who might be struggling with similar problems to perhaps seek the help of a higher power. “I’ve drunk my share, and for any person who has been going to rehabs, I would ask you to try Jesus.”
Mr. Willie also believes that the Lord deserves the credit for his success as a family man.
“My wife is a minister. Going to church together as a family, taking our children when they were little… But we met at nightclub when she was 20 and I was 24. So it had to be God to make it work.” 26 years and 8 grandchildren later, the gratitude is very clear in Willie’s voice as he shares these stories. When it comes to a happy marriage, he says, “I think it takes the Lord being in it.” Nowadays Mr. Willie likes to give back by working as a security guard at his church, Faith 4 Life Church, and helping anyone he meets who might be seeking a little direction.
Special thanks from all of the Kalalou family, to Mr. Willie, for all your hard work, and for your encouraging spirit, always helping to make Kalalou a great company for our employees and our customers alike.