Back in 1978, the world was a different place. Fenton was a small suburb outside of Flint with little to look at. A man known as Uncle Ray saw what the town could be and started a small ice cream shop with a vision. A vision for people to walk into his shop and come out thinking “Wow that was great ice cream.”
Today that vision is a reality not just for the customers but for the employees who work at Uncle Ray’s Dairyland.
“At Uncle Ray’s we have many mottos, but one of them is ‘choose to be fabulous’,” Owner Dave Durant said. “We have a great environment and great workers because we choose to be fabulous. It is one thing to show up and do a good job, but why not do a great job?”
Durant has been in the business since he was a kid. He knows what to look for when hiring employees and always looks for a positive attitude, the same attribute his father Ray Durant looked for 38 years ago.
“If you want to get a job I could care less about a 4.0 aptitude. What I care about is that you have a 4.0 attitude,” Durant said. “You have to always be committed, and go in trying to make yourself memorable.”
One of Durant’s employees is junior Sam Strickhouser who tries to show the positive attitude that Uncle Ray’s promotes.
“I love working at Uncle Rays, it is a family environment, and I get to interact with a lot of people,” Strickhouser said. “One time in the beginning of summer I was so nervous filling a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup container that I dropped the entire thing on the floor. Dave looked at me and sarcastically said ‘Well I hope you don’t get fired.’ It is just a happy place and I look forward to my next shift.”
It appears to be a common theme that Uncle Ray’s employees have a happy attitude. Senior Katrin Huotari has worked there for several months and credits her success to her preparedness for the job.
“I was probably hired because of the way I showed up prepared for my interview,” Huotari said. “I was on time and paid attention. In order to get a job, I recommend keeping in touch with your manager to see how your application is going.”
For students looking to enter the workforce, it is not only a time commitment, but a commitment to how one views themselves as a person. When a person takes on a job, they do not just represent themselves, but the company they work for.
“If you come to work at Uncle Ray’s, you have to put on a smile,” Durant said. “You have to have a really high energy level because we want our business to reflect that positive attitude. We want to create a fun and friendly culture for our customers.”
The Uncle Ray Way is an attitude. It is the way the employees approach the day-to-day grind. The positivity Durant promotes is the essence of what has kept Uncle Ray’s Dairyland business for the past 38 years.
The experience of working at Uncle Ray’s is unique, however, having a job as a teen is not. Many students have jobs and learn from those experiences as well.