July 20, 2015
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From left, Sam Blaiss (former Columbia regional vice president), Bill Banks, Jim Tate and Ashley McCall (Asheville district director). Both Banks and Tate were presented with Visa gift cards. ​

BI-LO associates in North Carolina celebrated and bid farewell to two fellow associates who have contributed a combined 83 years of service to their customers.

Bill Banks retired as assistant store director from store No. 5421 in Asheville, North Carolina after 43 years of service, and Jim Tate retired as meat market manager from store No. 5168 in Waynesville, North Carolina after 40 years of service.

Banks began his career at BI-LO in 1972 as an assistant produce manager. From there, he made his way across the Southeast, moving three times for the company to serve a variety of roles including grocery manager, customer service manager, store director and assistant store director.

He said customer service had always been a passion of his and that he formed just as many close relationships with customers as he did with associates.

“I love the business and it really came as second nature to me,” said Banks. “This company helped me raise three girls and five granddaughters. They all grew up at BI-LO.”

Banks is a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving four years active duty and two years inactive duty during the Vietnam War. He said he looks forward to staying active by kayaking, playing golf and tennis, and being in the great outdoors.

Tate technically began his career at BI-LO in 1969 as a 16-year-old courtesy clerk. From 1971 to 1975, he moved to Boone, North Carolina to earn his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Appalachian State University.

After college, he moved into a full-time career within BI-LO’s meat department, where he has been ever since. During his time with the company, Tate moved across North Carolina to share his expertise in cutting meat with other associates. He finally returned to his home store in Waynesville, North Carolina, where he has been for the past 27 years.

Tate said the grocery business challenged him and that he loved everything about his career in the meat department.

“I loved that I had the opportunity to use my hands and welcomed the challenges that were set in front of me,” he said.

He also loved the daily interaction with the many customers who have come to know him over the last 40 years.

“I still shop at BI-LO and customers will come up to me and give me a big hug, tell me how much they miss me and ask how to prepare a cut of meat. It means a lot to me.”

Tate will reside in his hometown of Waynesville . He looks forward to fishing and cruising around on his 1965 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.

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Market Manager Phillip Freeman and Regional Meat Sales Manager Harold Carver man the grill.

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