50 Years of Service: Celebrating the Career of Jan McGowan

Jan McGowan celebrates 50 years with H.A. Dorsten, Inc.

After 50 years of full-time service at H.A. Dorsten, Office Manager Jan McGowan will be moving to part-time work.

Jan joined H.A. Dorsten straight out of high school in 1971 – and has been with us ever since. She enjoyed her office courses in high school, and her teacher arranged for a work-study program with another local company, but after she graduated, they had a hiring freeze.

Their loss was our gain! Jan heard about an opening at H.A. Dorsten and leapt at the opportunity.

“I liked the variety of work,” Jan says. “At the time, I was taking daily shorthand, typing letters and purchase orders, and doing payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable.”

Jan also worked side-by-side with Vera Dorsten, wife of company founder Harold Dorsten, current CEO Ron Dorsten’s mother, and President Sean Dorsten’s grandmother.

“I have worked with Jan for 31 years,” says Sean Dorsten, “and she has known me for 49 years. I can’t begin to even describe how much she’s helped us over the years. She started out doing payroll, then became our head secretary and then took over our entire payroll and benefits work. Her knowledge of every part of the job she does is extremely valuable.”

Few know that Jan’s current nickname has its origin in her first day at H.A. Dorsten. “Before I started working here,” she says, “I was always ‘Janice’ to everyone. The first day, Ron asked me if  I preferred Janice or Jan, and I told him I had no preference – and I became Jan here from day one. Even my immediate family now calls me Jan.”

In the early days at H.A. Dorsten, the most challenging days were bid days. “We didn’t have computers or fax machines,” Jan says. “All material suppliers and subcontractors bidding on the job would call their bid into our office. Vera Dorsten and I would write their bid word for word and run it into the conference room where our estimators would be compiling all bids received. It would get quite hectic!”

Everything for the bid process was done on paper, with ledgers for everything. “Our calculators were these huge contraptions,” says Jan. “When we got computers, I didn’t understand how they  would work for documents or accounting.” The day she received her first computer, she looked at Sean and said, “I don’t know how to do this.” He gave her a puzzled look and said, “The keyboard is the same as your typewriter.” She said it was a real revelation!

“I’m now quite proficient with the computer!” Jan adds with a laugh.

Jan’s contributions to H.A. Dorsten over the last half-century are too numerous to count. Still, her skills in shorthand, organization, letter writing, and attention to detail have helped create the company we have today.

As Jan reduces her hours, she intends to spend more time with her husband, three sons, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren. She enjoys quilting, gardening, bike riding, and seeing live bands. Jan also trains dogs to compete. She currently has a Weimaraner who just turned a year old and is showing him to earn his championship title. “Once we earn that title,” she says, “we’ll go on to do obedience work and possibly will compete for obedience titles.”

When asked what advice she would give to her colleagues at H.A. Dorsten after 50 years of service, Jan says, “Speak up if things need to be changed. Sean respects your views and suggestions.”

From the H.A. Dorsten family to yours, Jan – thank you for your continued service and happy 50-year anniversary!

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