Summerwood Celebrates 40-Year Anniversary of Beloved New Jersey RGM

Not everyone can boast about being with the same brand for 40 years, but Michelle, an RGM in New Jersey, can do just that. August 11, 2022 marked her 40-year anniversary with Taco Bell. 

“Forty years feels like a long but short time,” Michelle says.

She says it’s gone by quick! What does 40 years look like in the way of professional development, achievements and following?

Michelle has worked at roughly eight locations over the course of her career. She’s been with Summerwood for 16 years and amassed quite a fan base with loyal customers following her every move. Some have been coming in to see her for over 20 years!

“[It’s a] good feeling because if people come in to see you, you must be doing something good,” she shares.

Michelle says she loves the customers; it’s the reason she’s still working at Taco Bell. She gives Summerwood full credit for bringing a shy gal out of her shell over the years, simultaneously cultivating growth and opening her eyes up to “things being bigger.”

“Summerwood excels in employee training because they’re always looking for advancement,” she says. “… once team members learn and stay with us, [it’s] easier to grow.”

Summerwood also offers great benefits like 401(k) retirement plans, employee assistance, and tuition reimbursement and scholarships.

“Education is big!” she says. “If you don’t apply, you can’t win.” This year, Michelle enjoyed celebrating three Live Más Scholarship winners from her restaurant, where funds ranged from $5,000 to $25,000!

Michelle has worked under great managers — people who put training, operations and continuous food safety at the top. And now she, too, is a strong leader at Summerwood, mentoring young employees as they enter the workforce.

“During her journey, Michelle helped develop, mentor, mold and evolve the careers of many, Area Coach Clarence Williams shared in a statement to employees. “She’s known as a staple and pillar not only in her store, but in her community as well. Her positivity is contagious and resonates throughout.”

“You never know what people are going through,” she shares about the importance of mentoring, adding that kids often have issues with family and school, and don’t always have someone they can talk to at home. If you ask her, she thinks 15-year-olds are the perfect age for hiring. Why?

“Because most stay until they go to college,” she quips.

“A lot of employees come in and they think it’s a temporary job… then learn they can grow with us,” she says. “It turns into a career… turned into a career for me!”

What is Michelle most proud of? After years of doing her best every day and treating people right, she says she’s most proud to just be a good person.  

She’s been at her current location for five years and sounds perfectly comfortable where she is. “The company is growing a lot… and I’d like to see where it’s going,” she confesses.