WAVERYLY, NY – With a special cake and traditional brass clock, auction owner Jeff Barber recognized the loyalty and efforts of five part-time employees who have worked at State Line Auto Auction for two decades or more. Vivian Arnold, Pat Grant, Phyllis Lincoln, Ann Soprano and Fran Robinson are the 20-year club’s newest members, joining eleven other 20-year employees.
Vivian Arnold and Pat Grant both started working for the auction in 1986, and both have worked together handling buyer payments on sale days, processing thousands and thousands of transactions with an unmatched level of customer rapport. “Vivian and Pat are like an entry at the Kentucky Derby,” joked Barber in making the presentation. “You get to bet on two horses at once…and they’re both winners!”
Vivian had retired from her first career in 1986 when her car-dealer husband mentioned that the auction had an opening. She went to the auction to apply, and started work the very next day. “Jeff is a wonderful boss, a fair man who always listens when I have something to say,” says Vivian. “I love it here, and I’ll be here another 20 years if my faculties hold out that long!”
Pat Grant had retired after 25 years with IBM where she worked with Jeff’s dad, Harry Barber, who suggested that she come to the auction to help on sale day. “That was back when we ran only 200 cars a week and recorded everything on paper,” recalls Pat. “I’ve had to learn how to use a computer, and handle a much larger volume of work over but I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s fun to work here…and the facility is beautiful. The antique furnishings and I go together quite well!”
Phyllis Lincoln is known as “Aunt Phyl” at the auction, where she has worked as a receptionist since 1989, making thousands of friends as the callers’ first contact at the auction. A friend of the Barber family since Jeff was “knee-high,” Aunt Phyl worked as a waitress in the Barber’s restaurant in the 1960’s, often picked up Jeff after Sunday School on her way to work so he could work the dinner rush, and has served as a babysitter for all Jeff’s children. “I was 65 years old when Jeff hired me to work at the auction,” says Aunt Phyl. “Though the auction is busier today than when I started working there, I don’t think it has changed much…it has just grown. It’s still a great place to work, a great place to do business, and the kind of place where everyone is important.” Aunt Phyl explains that she’s now on the “injured reserve” list and doesn’t work at the auction regularly anymore, but fondly relates that Jeff sends a driver over for her from time to time so she can visit her friends at the auction.
Ann Soprano has been at State Line since February of 1986. She worked for many years as a driver, and now works “inside”, greeting dealers at the front door and helping them get checked in on sale day. “Ann’s work ethic is unmatched, and she always has a smile for everyone who comes in the door,” says Barber. “Our customers know and respect her due to her great attitude and friendly service. She’s a tremendous asset to the auction!” Ann says that she keeps her anniversary clock in her living room, and is happy to be reminded of Jeff and the auction when the clock chimes every half hour. “Jeff treats us all like family,” says Ann. “He looks up to us…and we look up to him. That’s what makes State Line such a great place to work!”
Fran Robinson is another employee who “goes way back” with Jeff and the Barber family. As a young boy, Jeff played baseball with Fran’s sons and, in fact, Fran often gave Jeff rides to baseball practice. Fran has traveled literally millions of miles over the roads of the Northeast since going to work at the auction in April 1987 as a transport driver. “Fran has probably been to New York City more than anyone I’ve ever known, and, yet, he always looks forward to going,” notes Barber. “He told me once long ago that he enjoys those trips because he always sees something new. I can always depend on Fran….through rain, snow, ice or cold, I know he’ll go get the vehicles.” In addition to driving for the auction, Fran serves as a block clerk on sale days.
“What really strikes me about these employees is what hard-workers they all are,” said Barber. “Each one of them as ALWAYS worked more than one job, and it’s apparent that they just enjoy working. If I had one wish, it’s that we can have all five of them here for at least another twenty years!”
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