SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - After 23 years in the U.S. Army, three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Douglas Ledon Lapsely was back on the front lines, Monday.
"The store is our front line,'' said Greg Parker, owner of the chain of Parker's Convenience Stores. "That's our battleground. We have to please the consumer. That's why we say fast, fresh and friendly.''
Lapsley took all those characteristics, along with several other tangible qualities, into the Okatie Parker's store on Monday, for his first day of work after coming to the company through the government's Vet2 Program.
Veterans in the program receive classroom training through Georgia Tech and then do internships with local companies with the hope of staying on full time, as Lapsley did with Parker's.
"The process, for me, has been seamless. I have not missed a step since I transitioned out of the military,'' said Lapsley. "I really enjoy Parker's and the way it is embedded into the community. I like being on the front lines and being in the trenches with people.''
After corporate training during his internship, Lapsley started on the management track Monday.
He will be an assistant manager until being assigned as a manager at one of Parker's almost 60 stores, where he can use a leadership style that he says is part motivator, part class clown.
"That actually helps the organization,'' said Lapsley. "When people are motivated and enjoy what they're doing, it's conducive to the productivity of the organization. It is just a blessing. Parker's is everywhere. Plus, I like the tea.''
Lapsley's background in logistics will serve him as a manager.
Greg Parker expects he and other veterans who enter the company through the Vet2 Program will bring much more with them.
"People who are going to go out and put their lives on the line for us and our families, these are people that have a special place in our hearts,'' said Parker. "They're disciplined, they're highly motivated, they work hard, they're organized. It will be an opportunity for us to help them, but the bigger thing is the conduit of talent to Parker's.
"We're doubling in size every four years. We have 800 employees and we're going to be at 1,600 employees. So, the people who come to work for us have an incredible opportunity to grow.''