My Story – by Lori Ewald

They say a parent’s job is to create a better life for their children and my parents did just that.  Everything I am today I credit to my Mom and Dad.  They instilled drive, a sense of pride, a great work ethic, and humor into my life.  My story begins with them.  Growing up in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania they encouraged me to get a job as soon as I was able to.  I did everything from ask “Is this for the dining room?” at my first job at Burger King, to deliver Donnelly directories, to sell flowers on the corner during the holidays.  College was not a choice for me.  It was understood I was going.  Besides one aunt on my dad’s side, I was the only one in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  I thought I was going to save the world with a psych degree.  I was a caseworker for a foster care program and a counselor for addicted gang members in a dual diagnosis rehab center.  At the young age of 22, I even hosted a live call in television show about parenting on the local station out of Reading.  After being hit by little children in foster care programs and gang members tipping dressers over me during their probation meetings, I realized I needed to move on and get an advanced degree.

Graduating from Villanova with my Master’s degree was probably one of my most proud moments.  Rejected from Millersville University for their MSW program, I knew I had to make something great happen.  I quickly got on the phone with Villanova and scheduled my own interview.  A week later, I was notified I was accepted to Villanova.  I pursued my graduate degree full-time while working full time at US Behavioral Health where I managed mental benefits for the Screen Actors Guild and other high-profile companies.  Right before I graduated from Villanova, I got married and moved to Boulder, CO.  There I landed an HR job with Dynamic Materials Corporation, an explosive bonding and forming company.  From this job, I learned the art of connecting with people.  I was viewed as corporate by folks on the floor and many refused to give me the time of day.  We had about 95% turnover when I arrived.  I put on my jeans and my hard hat, got on the floor, learned about mig welding, tig welding, press operations, and ampho.  I learned of the turnover issues and embraced that information, empowered employees, and developed a Skill Based Pay program which reduced our turnover to single digits, improved morale, and provided a well cross trained employee population.

My husband and I decided to move closer to our family to start our own and landed in Cleveland, Ohio.  I landed a job as the Midwest HR Manager for Standard Register, a document management company out of Dayton, Ohio. Here I learned the importance of multi-tasking, time management, and the art of recruiting.  I was responsible for 6 states and one recruiter.  I received best manager of the year during this time.  My out of the box thinking, allowed me to convince Sr. Management to allow our recruiter to go on Spring Break with all kinds of giveaways to bring brand awareness to our company.   She came back with tons of pictures of our beach towels all over the beach at Panama City.  Yes, they had beer bongs on them, but we achieved our goal.

After having my daughter, I decided to stay home for a bit and try the full-time mom thing.  During this time, I kept up with my PHR certification and did small jobs here and there.  I even taught scrapbooking at Michael’s, which is a hoot to think about.  I then channeled my business crazy into being PTO President for the largest Catholic school in Kent County.  During which time I raised over $200k for the school.  My creative ways to market and fundraise were supported by a great team and we outfitted the entire school with smart boards, a science lab, and dedicated the gym.  After my term I decided I needed to go back to work.  I was told I was overqualified when I applied for the job at Hasbro, but convinced my boss otherwise.  This job gave me a real look into marketing and merchandising.  My proudest moment was achieving a ranking of 34 nationwide out of over 3500 Walmart stores for Hasbro sales.

Because of my local connections, during this time I was nominated to be an Honorary Commander for DAFB.  I was partnered with CONS, AMXS, and FSS squadron commanders over the course of 3 years.  The program is to learn about our military and educate the public, but also to help our military members feel like a part of our community.  This is when Bobby Pancake and I had the pleasure of meeting.  We are both super proud of our military, especially DAFB and take this responsibility very seriously.  After my term, I was then inducted as an Alumni Emeritus for the Honorary Commander Program.

I worked for Hasbro for 6 years and they were unable to give me a larger territory, so I moved on to the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce as their Director of Membership Services.  At this job, I learned to appreciate the hard work of small business owners and their role in our community.  I also learned that charity was important to me and I needed a job where I could do both.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t work for the Chamber and do the fundraising I wanted, so I decided to move on from there.  Again, at a military event, I was blessed with seeing Bobby and getting to meet Mark Trewartha.  I told them of my recent departure from the Chamber and they looked at each other with a smirk and a smile and then asked me what I wanted to do.  I told them marketing and sales and they said they had just taken over the operations for an Italian restaurant and Mark said he would call me.  Well, he didn’t for a few days.  In the meantime, I had been nominated and accepted to become the National AMC Civic Leader for DAFB.  I would represent all of the DAFB at the national level.  I would travel every 6 months to provide advice and counsel to General Everhart, a 4 star, on pressing issues for the military where civilians might be able to provide solutions.  What Mark and Bobby didn’t know at the time was I needed a biography for General Everhart and the rest of the civic leaders.  I certainly couldn’t say I was unemployed, so I texted Mark and said I’ve never done this before but if you are interested in talking to me about this position, we need to talk because I need a biography in about 3 days for this program.  He laughed, we met, and I was introduced to the team at Touch of Italy where I became their BAM (Brand Awareness Manager).

The last year has been a challenging one, but a great challenge.  I learned a lot, connected with many; but am thrilled to be on the other side of the fence with the rest of you.  I’m excited to be creative with our independent brands and I’m also thrilled to learn about the franchise world as well.  I thank Bobby and Mark for the opportunity to be great and I thank all of you for welcoming me into your world.

Most importantly, my 2 children (Rachel, 17 and Chase, 15) and husband Todd love Buffalo Wild Wings are thrilled about this latest role for me because they LOVE BWW!

What’s your Story?