Family and Freedom call Carol into Retirement

Christmas, as well as the office environment, at ICW won’t be the same after Carol Gauthier calls it a career following nearly 20 years of service

By Warren Blenkush

She’s done a little bit of everything for a company she’s called home for the past 19 years – even playing Mrs. Claus at the kids’ Christmas parties. But life beckons for the administrative assistant Carol Gauthier, ICW’s clerical Swiss army knife, who will retire on May 29, opening the door to new experiences and spending more time with her husband, son, grandson and two great grandchildren.

“I’m excited and sad,” says Gauthier, who will not only become the longest tenured staff member to retire from ICW but will be the second employee to retire from the company. “It’s both. I am (sad) because of the people but I’m excited to kind of move on and do something new. I never thought I would do this, retire. I really never did but it was like, you know what, I need to go see my grand-kids more than what we get to see them.”

“The dedication, and the positive attitude, and the willingness and the loyalty are the things that are really good about Carol,” says ICW co-founder Delphine Hunter on the qualities that have made Gauthier such a valuable team member and pleasure to work with for so many years. “She’s always upbeat and happy. She loves her job. She loves just to be here. When you ask her to do something, there’s no fighting question about it. You knew she was going to do it. She was always very much that way, very willing.”

Like the Hunters and ICW itself, Gauthier is native to Canada where she spent her early years of childhood living in Toronto until her family decided to move south of the border and over to the West Coast to Grass Valley, Calif. when she was 8 years old.

Prior to her tenure at ICW, Gauthier spent 20 years with Grass Valley Group, a broadcasting equipment manufacturing company. During her stay at Grass Valley Group, much like for ICW, she was responsible for shipping, receiving and purchasing. Over that time period, Gauthier got married and had a son before the Gauthiers required a change of scenery and decided to relocate to Southern Oregon in late December of 1999.

While her husband worked full time at British Occidental Chemical in White City, Gauthier had temporary employment stints packing at Harry & David and working at the Southern Oregon University bookstore before discovering a shipping and receiving advertisement in the newspaper. The job opportunity, which wound up being for ICW, was one that made Gauthier turn down the part-time SOU bookstore position for a potential full-time gig. Soon after, Gauthier was interviewed by Hunter, who offered her the job in June of 2001.

At the time Gauthier accepted the job, ICW was located on Industry Drive in Medford and she was one of just 10-12 staff members working at the warehouse facility. Since then, not only has Gauthier been able to watch the company grow in size and staff, but has witnessed several milestones, most notably the company’s construction of and expansion into both the Kingsley (2002) and Grumman (2008) buildings.

In addition to working in shipping and receiving, Gauthier lent a hand in assembly when her services were needed. Her other responsibilities over the years have included clerical work, processing purchasing orders, shopping for supplies, organizing social functions and parties for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, among a variety of other tasks.

“Carol has always been the one that has jumped in and put together all these social functions that we’ve had over the years,” says Hunter. “She’ll be in there cooking, doing whatever, getting everything ready and she’s always there, always at these functions and always putting them together nicely.”

However, later in Gauthier’s career at ICW, life a detour through a darker time for a couple years after she was diagnosed with cancer. Her doctors put her in a clinical study with a new experimental drug that helped her win the battle.

“It was a very scary time for Carol but she still maintained her positive attitude,” says Hunter about Gauthier’s battle with cancer. “She went through an awful lot. An awful lot, and look at her today. It’s just amazing. And the most important thing to her when she was getting better was she was thinking about her job. She wanted to come back to work. That really kind of takes your heart. She’s been good.”

Of all of Gauthier’s responsibilities through the years, there is little question to which one is her favorite.

“Going shopping!” she says before bursting into laughter. “Going shopping, oh yeah. And I like interacting with everybody. I basically get to interact with every single person in this company. So I liked that. I liked interacting with everyone.”

Gauthier’s favorite kind of shopping coincides with some of her fondest memories about working at ICW by getting to shop for gifts for the annual Kid’s Christmas Party.

“I loved doing those,” says Gauthier on organizing the company Kid’s Christmas Party. “That was one of my favorite things. I liked doing it and I liked to see all the kids growing up through the years. I’ve seen a lot of them grow up. Stephanie (Tingley) and I used to go out and go shopping for all the gifts. We had lists of (the kids’) names and what they were interested in. They’re fun. It’s really a lot of fun. That’s one of my most favorite things we ever did.”

“Carol has always been very much involved with the kid’s Christmas parties and dressing up as Mrs. Claus, and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing with her over the years,” says assistant controller Melissa Rupert, Gauthier’s co-worker and friend of 11 years. “Wrapping the gifts, picking out personalized gifts for each of the kids, and Carol always puts so much thought into it. I know she really enjoys doing it and she gets a joy out of seeing the kids’ faces when they get to open their gifts and everything.”

Although Gauthier has organized her last Christmas party at ICW, she’ll have plenty of time to organize her time around going on family trips, visiting her son and grandchildren in Grass Valley, exploring the shores of the coast and spending time in the sun while tending to her garden at her Medford home. Gauthier and her husband’s first planned post-retirement destination will be to Santa Cruz in September.

“She will be greatly missed but we are very happy for her and wish her nothing but happiness for the many years to come,” says ICW general manager Kelly Tingley on Gauthier’s departure.

“She is always thinking of everyone else first,” says Rupert. “She’s such a family-oriented person. I always say she’s like the mother of our group. She’s our family member. She always wants to know how we’re doing, what’s going on in our lives. Carol is a perfect example of us (at ICW) being a family. She kind of holds everybody together. She’s going to be very missed. Very missed.”

While it’s bittersweet for so many people at ICW to see Gauthier leave, she has achieved the long term goal every worker strives for and she couldn’t have been happier about where she spent her time.

“That’s the best thing about working at this place, it’s a family,” says Gauthier. “If something happens, they’re very, very caring people that own this company. They really are. I’ve seen a lot of different things that they have done for people that have worked here. And that’s why I say they’re really great to work for. I’ve never worked for anybody like that. You don’t find places like that anymore.”

And ICW will never find another like you, Carol. Enjoy the freedom in the newest chapter of your life.