Lou-Rich bookkeeper retires after decades of helping outPublished 10:07am Tuesday, June 10, 2014
By Jacob Tellers
When her older brother asked her to do some bookkeeping for the new business he was starting, Sue Berg figured the job would only last a few weeks. Now, 42 years later, she is retiring from Lou-Rich Inc. after having worked there most of her adult life.
“I was going to work for a couple of weeks, and then they were going to take over the bookkeeping,” Sue said. “Well, they got busy in the shop, and so the joke is that I never got the books set up because I’m still here.”
“But I’m getting them set up now — two more weeks,” she jokingly added.
Sue and her older brother, Louis, grew up in southern Minnesota to parents who were farmers. Born in Albert Lea, Sue has lived in Minnesota her entire life.
The business Louis Larson and his partner Richard Ackland founded was initially focused on farm machinery repair but quickly expanded into other areas such as engineering and machining.
“I’m so glad he (Louis) asked me to work for him,” Sue said.
She was the first employee of a company that now employs nearly 400 people in the Albert Lea area.
Prior to working for her brother, Sue was a bookkeeper for a veterinary clinic for six years.
Though she began working for Lou-Rich as a bookkeeper, she filled in many different roles for the company over the four decades. Currently, Sue is the training coordinator for Lou-Rich.
“I work on figuring out what training is needed and either do some of the training myself or find someone who can do the training,” she said.
Besides working as a bookkeeper and training coordinator, Sue has also managed the payroll, worked in human resources, and served on various company and government committees.
“I’ve seen lots of changes,” she said. “That’s one thing I say about Lou-Rich: It never stays the same.”
During her 42 years of working at Lou-Rich, Sue has seen and managed to stay on top of the massive changes in technology that have taken place during that time.
“We used to type quotes on a typewriter with paper in there, and if you made a mistake you would have to start it all over again,” she said. “We’ve gone through several computer systems over the years. This last one I was pretty influential in systems over the years. This last one I was pretty influential in picking it and getting it started.”
But those official titles and responsibilities are secondary to her unofficial one: mom, both to people at work and at home.
“Sue has always been someone who if people have issues — it could be work issues or non-work issues — they’d come to talk to Sue,” Business Development manager Doug Olson said.
“I feel like a counselor some days,” Sue said. “My nickname around here by a lot people is mom.”
However, Sue is not just the “mom” to her co-workers. She and her husband, Curtis, have three children: Galen, Tiffany and Dannielle, as well as seven grandchildren.
Her family is the main reason Sue is looking forward to her retirement.
“One of the things I’m going to be doing this summer is spending time with my grandkids and taking them to the zoo and just enjoying having them around,” she said.
Sue said that it took her a “long time” to finally decide to retire, but she is excited to have extra time for all the things she wants to do.
“I want to be able to sit down and read a book, work on my cross-stitch, do some antique shopping, visit friends [and] camp,” she said.
Louis, who has been retired for nearly two decades, is happy that his sister is joining him in retirement.
“I think we will be able to visit now and do more things together,” he said.
Address: 88400 225th St. Albert Lea
Family: brother, Louis Larson; children Galen Berg, Tiffany Hagan, Dannielle Sayles; seven grandchildren
Livelihood: training coordinator at Lou-Rich Inc.
Interesting fact: One activity she still enjoys doing is mowing her six-acre yard.