All six LaPorte County McDonald’s restaurants focus on hiring young workers and building deep relationships that frequently last a lifetime.

They are owned and operated by the team of Glenn Lubeznik and his son Sam, and Sam’s wife Erika. They do much more for the community than satisfy hungry patrons with fresh quality food — they also build long-term relationships with young workers that result in meaningful impressions on both sides.

“We love being part of our young workers’ path to success,” Sam says. “It’s very satisfying to mentor these young, hardworking people and watch them blossom into mature and responsible members of our community.”

Glenn opened the first family restaurant in 1961. After multiple renovations, that McDonald’s has been rebuilt on the same plot of land. The dedication shown to the location by the Lubeznik family is reflected in their relationship to their working team.

“We have always paid close attention to mentoring our beginners,” said Sam. “For many of them, it’s their first job outside of the home. We feel it’s our responsibility to help them learn what it takes to be a success. Not just here at our restaurant, but in their chosen professional career.”

McDonald’s created Hamburger University — a 130,000-square-foot training facility located in Chicago. The corporate university was designed to instruct personnel employed by McDonald’s in the various aspects of restaurant management.

“Some people joke about the name, but the university shows the importance of education to the McDonald’s brand,” Sam said. “We want to offer the proper training to those who want to work at our establishments,” he added.

Over the years, the Lubeznik family has made lasting friendships with workers who went on to become lawyers, doctors and accountants. Sam said that many of them stop in and say hello from time to time. “Many of them have fond memories of their time here. Some of them actually send their kids to see me for their first job, which I think is a testament to how we approach mentoring,” he said.

Sam explains that McDonald’s teaches the new employees the required hard skills needed to cook, clean, serve and cashier customers. He said that the hard skills are actually the easy part. “It’s the lack of soft skills that are challenging, especially in this customer service-based business,” Sam indicated.

That’s why the Lubeznik family is such a big supporter of programs like the Work Ethic Certificate Programs through the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board and the governor’s office. The skills learned in these programs — such as communication, attention to detail, following directions, recognizing problems and finding solutions, and being dependable are critical to making customers feel welcome.

“We always explain the importance of first impressions,” Sam says. “It’s easy for the customer to take their business down the street. We need to make them feel they’re glad they stopped at our place.”

McDonald’s now offers a program called Archways Opportunity, an amazing tuition assistance program, where employees can qualify for as much as $2,500-$3,000 annually to help them with college tuition. As an owner/operator, Sam said they pay for them to attain higher education. “I always tell our employees I am thrilled to be able to pay $12,000 annually to those who want to take advantage of it,” Sam said.

Hiring for the Future is a series from the Northwest Workforce Board, featuring Region employers who provide young people a work opportunity, while helping them gain skills and develop a good work ethic in order to succeed in today’s economy. The opinions are the writer’s.

View article in the Northwest Indiana Times here.