October 01, 2014
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  Bi-Lo Holdings director of business support Kevin Gates, front left, with members of his team at the Bi-Lo Holdings Baypine office in Jacksonville, Fla. ​

On Kevin Gates’ desk is a mechanical stamp pricer that isn’t often seen in today’s retail world. But when he began work in 1973, it was one of many in use to mark prices on cans and boxes throughout a grocery store.

Gates, Bi-Lo Holdings director of business support,is retiring after 41 years. He said that pricing stamp has been with him, on his desk, througout his tenure.

“That keeps me grounded,” Gates said of the stamp, nicknamed a “Jumping Jack.”It reminds me where I come from. It’s always been about taking care of customers.”

Gates started as a bagboy at age 16 a Winn-Dixie store in Mobile, Alabama.

“My parents were very intent in my working while I went to high school,” he said. “If you wanted a car and gas money, you had to work to get it.”

Gates continued to work at Winn-Dixie as he attended the University of Mobile, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Once he completed his studies, Winn-Dixie continued to provide him a place to develop his career. He worked in store management and as a trainer in several areas along the Gulf Coast before coming to the Montgomery, Alabama division office as the division’s produce trainer.

Gates was a district manager in Columbus, Georgia for five years before returning to Montgomery as a category manager. In 2000, when Winn-Dixie procurement functions were centralized to Jacksonville, he was transfered as a business systems manager. He assumed directorship of the Business Support group in 2007.

Over the years, he’s seen a lot of change. Many functions are digitized now. Stores are open on Sundays and are open later. But one thing that has remained consistent is how thankful he’s been for the people whom he works with, he said.

“I’ve been blessed with good people working for me as a store director, district director and as director of business support, and my success has been because of them. I’ve been fortunate.”

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Bi-Lo Holdings director of business support Kevin Gates with the pricing stamp that he’s kept with him through his career, foreground.

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