With icy 13-mile run, Deseret Industries store manager motivates employees in a ’roundabout’ way

Dave Stephenson, store manager of the Cedar City Deseret Industries, makes his way around an icy roundabout during his 13.1-mile jog, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 4, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Motorists passing through the roundabout near the parking lot of the Cedar City Deseret Industries thrift store may have seen an unusual sight Friday morning: a store manager, dressed in button-up shirt and necktie, jogging in circles amid the snow and ice around the inner section of the roundabout.

Dave Stephenson, store manager of the Cedar City Deseret Industries, makes his way around an icy roundabout during his 13.1-mile jog, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 4, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

It was Deseret Industries store manager Dave Stephenson completing more than 260 counterclockwise laps en route to logging the equivalent of a 13.1-mile half marathon at the beginning of his work shift.

Braving 20-degree temperatures and icy, uneven running surfaces, Stephenson completed his run in just under three hours, finishing just after 11 a.m.

It was all part of a promise he’d made to store employees if they would meet year-end budget and sales goals, Stephenson explained.

“Basically, what we do is we teach and train people to be better employees. Our goal is to help teach them how to be a better employee and get them into a better job,” Stephenson said. “So I like to do things that seem crazy or impossible just to kind of show them that anything is possible.”

“About November, I just threw it out there and I said, hey, the roundabout out there, I’ll run around it at least 200 times if we make budget,” Stephenson said. “We made budget. That wasn’t a problem at all. I also had said, ‘Not only will I run around it over 200 times, but I’ll do it in work clothes, shirt, tie and slacks.’”

The store’s workers responded to the motivation by exceeding the targeted goals, Stephenson said. “We had a great year and did really well. It’s a great store, with a lot of community support.”

Stephenson said he hadn’t planned on conditions being so cold and snowy at the time he had initially scheduled to make his promised run on the first Friday of January.

“I had picked this day back in December, not knowing what the weather would be like,” he said with a laugh. “And then we got the snowstorm and the temperature dropped … but I like to do ultra-marathons, so the worse the conditions, the better for me. It doesn’t really bother me.”

Dave Stephenson, store manager of the Cedar City Deseret Industries, makes his way around an icy roundabout during his 13.1-mile jog, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 4, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The necktie, though, was an annoyance, he admitted. “I’m going to throw it away now,” he joked.

About midway through Stephenson’s run and right before the store opened for business at 10 a.m., dozens of employees came out of the store and paid their manager a short surprise visit, offering cheers of support.

“I didn’t know they were going to do it,” Stephenson said. “I looked up, and there they all were. So I stopped for a minute and talked to them, and it was cool.”

“I had started before they all showed up for work, so they all saw me out there doing it when they were pulling in for work,” he added.

“They like to get me to do crazy stuff, which I’m more than happy to do. But I don’t want to run around any loops anymore.”

Stephenson said the store’s staff comprises approximately 90 part-time associates, many of whom have special needs, who are enrolled in the Deseret Industries training program.

Additionally, Stephenson also oversees several others in full-time management positions, including five job coaches, an assistant manager, an administrative assistant and two development counselors.

The Cedar City Deseret Industries store has been operating in its new location at 1460 S. Providence Center Drive since April 2017.

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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