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Employee celebrates 50 years working for IDA in the Soo

Remarkable milestone to be feted with friends and co-workers

50 years is a huge milestone, one that deserves to be celebrated for the amazing accomplishment that it is.

Jo-Ann Gilbraith has worked at IDA since 1973, and she is as keen and excited about her job today as she was when she first started.

What began as a part-time job after school, when she worked just a night or two every week and the occasional Saturday, turned into a rewarding, decades-long career.

“Working with my boss, Ron Disano, was the best. He made work fun and there was never a dull moment,” says Jo-Ann. “He was definitely one of the biggest reasons I stayed working there. We worked very well together and he taught me so much. He was a kind, smart and down to earth man.”

Over the years she worked at several locations. She started at Palumbo’s Pharmacy on Wellington Street, then moved to Wellington Square Mall. Next, she went to Ideal Drug Mart, which turned into Urban Square Drug Mart.

Currently she puts together the blister packs for customers at the Urban Square Drug Mart location.

When she started at Palumbo’s back in the 70s, she worked as a cashier; she did this for a short time at Wellington Square too. “Ronnie then asked if I would be interested in learning to work in the pharmacy,” she says. “I said yes and he trained me to be a pharmacy assistant. And the rest is history.”

Jo-Ann is uniquely positioned to report on the changes she has witnessed in the industry since she started 50 years ago. “Technology is by far the biggest change in pharmacy,” she says. “We started out with typewriters and counted everything by hand. Everything was billed manually and prescriptions were called in by the doctors. Now everything is done by fax and email—even the pharmacists can prescribe.”

The most fulfilling part of her work, by far, has been the people it has allowed her to meet. “You get to know them on a personal level and enjoy talking to them. Also the people you get to work with. Some have become lifelong friends,” says Jo-Ann.

When asked if she has any advice for people who are just starting out, Jo-Ann says, “Find a job that you love and good people to work for/with because you spend most of your time there.”

This approach certainly worked for her, as even after she celebrates 50 years on the job, Jo-Ann has no immediate plans to retire. She enjoys her job too much and works with great people, so has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

She is also feeling quite grateful these days. “I would like to thank the current owners—Joe, Frank, Sam and Mark—for celebrating this moment in my career. I truly appreciate it.”

Urban Square Drug Mart is located at 197 Trunk Road in Sault Ste. Marie. Follow the store on Facebook.