December 22, 2021 was no ordinary day for retired H-E-B employee Ofelia "Ophie" Garcia; the City of Austin named the day after her through an official proclamation. Garcia earned it through 56 years of service to the grocery store chain and the communities she lived in.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Garcia's tenure began in 1956 in Harlingen. She would later spend over 30 years working in Austin at the Oak Hill location. Back in 2018 when food writer Addie Broyles profiled her, Garcia was still working 38.5 hours each week; she was 81 at the time. Apparently, she started working in the tobacco section in Harlingen but would later go on to general merchandise, cosmetics (more than 40 years!), door greeting, and translating for customers at the pharmacy during her career. Austin NBC affiliate KXAN reports that Garcia retired in August 2021.
Garcia ties her longevity with the grocery store chain to something simple. She told KXAN, "I love my customers, I have a passion for them. I have stayed so long. They mean a lot to me. [I want] to give them the best service H-E-B can offer."
That commitment to customer service didn't go unnoticed. Her colleague Charles Butt, the current CEO and grandson of H-E-B founder Florence Butt, knew it well. He told Broyles, "Ophie has a heart for people and offers encouragement to everyone she meets... Whether she's in the store or out serving her community, Ophie is always going above and beyond to provide world-class customer service. I'm proud to be on her team."
A mere whippersnapper at a year junior to her in age, Butt started working for the company around the same time as Garcia. In fact, he's the only employee -- retail or not -- whose tenure is longer than hers. Further, several years ago when Garcia was flirting with retirement, she was torn and turned to Butt for advice. He told her to do whatever she wanted. She stayed longer since her work brought her such joy.
Garcia is no doubt part of the reason why H-E-B is such a Texas institution. Her joy and service are clearly among the reasons why Texans love the chain so much. We here at Texas Snax salute her.
Feel free to tell us here via commenting on this blog post or on the Texas Snax Facebook page about a H-E-B (or Buc-ee's) employee that goes beyond the call of duty.