60 years loyal: Harry Rosen employee celebrates milestone
Published Thursday, March 17, 2016 6:41PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 17, 2016 7:37PM EDT
When Steve Pawlak showed up for his first day of work at Lou and Harry Rosen’s clothing store on Parliament St., he didn’t know how to tie a tie.
“Lou Rosen tied my tie for me,” he remembers. “And I’m working in a clothing store and I can’t do the basic things.”
It was March 15th, 1956. Pawlak was 16-years-old, and while he had no formal training, he was eager to get a shot working in the clothing business.
“I took out the trash, I swept the floors, I cleaned the windows. And from there on, it just grew.”
It grew into a 60-year career, making Pawlak the longest serving employee at Harry Rosen, by far.
“I was 7 days old when Steve started working at Harry Rosen’s,” said Chairman and CEO Larry Rosen.
Pawlak was the first person hired by brothers Lou and Harry Rosen. For years, he worked as a buyer, travelling to New York and Europe, helping to decide which pieces would be sold in Harry Rosen stores across the country. He was so devoted to his work, every Friday night he would leave the store on Richmond St., walk up Yonge St. and across Bloor St., studying the display windows of every menswear store along the way.
“There were approximately 20 stores then,” he said in a recent interview with CTV Toronto. “I would go and see what they were doing, what it looked like in the display. I just needed it…it was my way of getting a kick.”
After 60 years with the company, there is one highlight that stands out among the rest -- Pawlak met his wife Toni when she started working for the company in the 1980s. She is now retired.
“I guess it was 7 years before we got married. But it’s been wonderful, it really has. She’s a great lady.”
At 76-years-old, Pawlak is still putting in full days at the Harry Rosen store at First Canadian Place. He has a loyal base of clients, some of whom go back more than 50 years.
“He’s living proof that if your attitude is positive, you stay young at heart,” says Rosen. “We have nothing but admiration for him and so happy that he’s still with us and such an important contributor.”
And while many would be hanging up their measuring tape at his age, Pawlak has no plans to call it a career.
“it’s a passion for me.”