Abt Exclusive Employee Spotlight

40th Anniversaries: Ray Sola & Mike Buchanan

Mike Buchanan with his truck and Ray Sola beside Wolf & Sub Zero Appliances

We’re excited to celebrate the 40th Abt anniversaries of two treasured employees, Ray Sola and Michael Buchanan! Both of them have seen our business through some pretty extreme changes, like the store’s move from its location in Niles to Morton Grove, and finally to Glenview, Illinois. Other exciting changes Sola and Buchanan have seen? The shift in leadership between Dave and Bob Abt and Bob’s four sons. The advent of smart technology, the start of Abt’s own website and our national shipping, and so many more developments. These experts have been here through it all, helping our team to adjust and always being there for our customers. Learn more about Ray and Mike below!   

Ray Sola: Appliance Sales

Ray Sola beside Sub Zero and Wolf appliances in the Living Kitchen

Ray began at Abt in July of 1983 in the same department he is in now: Appliance Sales. In the Morton Grove location, there were only 20 employees and a single loading dock.

“When I left my last job at E.J. Korvette and told them where I was going, they told me to apply to other places: Polk Brothers, Sears. They said, ‘Abt’s not going to last.’ They were wrong. But the store was very small when I started, that is what I really liked about it. I wasn’t just a number, I was a part of the family. My son and daughter worked here in accounting and custom kitchens. The staff has just exploded in size, but it is the same store with the same philosophy of taking care of its customers.”

While the company is larger than it was, it still remains incredibly customer- and family-focused, and that approach extends to employees, too. “I think that I have a hand in it. Being a family business, they care about the company, and that extends to us. We are a team. Not just associates. Bob (Abt) always said we. We are going to run the company, we are going to be better. We as a company.”

When asked if he had thought this would be his forever job, Ray smiled. “Bob Abt said ‘as long as you want’.”

When he’s not at work, Ray loves spending time with his grandkids, and he’s a car buff. He went to three car shows last weekend, and he’s started bringing his grandkids along with him.

Mike Buchanan: Driver & Installer, Builder Division

Mike and Lincoln Buchanan in front of Mike's Abt delivery truck

Mike Buchanan’s name is proudly emblazoned on the size of his truck’s door. ’38 years’ it says under his name. “I’ll have to get that updated, this is my office!” His son Lincoln is Abt’s lead electrician, and the two are happy to work in the same building. “May the circle be unbroken,” he says. “The Abts have always been great to me, it’s amazing how they keep this place going. And after 40 years, I’m looking forward to working some more.”

Mike was first interviewed by Dave and Bob Abt in August of 1983, and accepted with one stipulation: that he would “show up and try (his) best”. He’s kept that phrase close to heart, helping the delivery fleet grow from a team of 4 trucks to nearly 500. “I had mostly residential deliveries and enjoyed going to different places and meeting people. Abt Delivery Crews are unstoppable, working through rain, sleet, snow and even a pandemic to take care of our customers.” Some of the trends from when he began here? Popular refrigerator colors were Harvest Wheat, Copper, Avocado Green and White.

When asked what some of his favorite memories were, Mike smiled. “All memories are good! Bob Abt called me on the 2-way radio—everyone was listening—and offered me sports tickets. We’ve gotten some lovely sports tickets, and we even ended up on the Jumbotron. It was really nice. Bob was always hands-on with the trucks, too….the job has been good to me, my coworkers have been good to me, and Abt has been good to all of us.”

January’s Employee Spotlight on the blog was Mike’s son, Lincoln. Mike’s proud of him: “Lincoln got here on his own, did an apprenticeship and got a job.” Lincoln has been here for 18 years, too. It’s truly a family affair for the Buchanans, just like it is for the Sola family.  

We’re so proud to have had both Mike and Ray at Abt for four decades now. They bring their wisdom and expertise to work and share it with younger employees, passing on the tools of the trade and the best of their past. We’re excited to celebrate both of them and just how much these two men have contributed to this company.

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