For this year’s Father’s Day, we couldn’t be happier to feature our IT department’s greatest father-son team, Jake and Dave Iffland. Combined, these two have nearly 40 years of working at Abt.
In 1988, Dave started his career here in the warehouse at only 17. At the recommendation of his grandfather, he headed to the Niles community center and heard word that Abt’s warehouse could always use a pair of helping hands. Here, he met with Wayne Tolzien (nicknamed the Giant); to this day, Dave is grateful that Wayne gave him a chance. “The company was small but growing fast. It was very hard work, but it was always busy and there was always a lot going on. That hasn’t changed much.”
Since his first position in the warehouse, Dave has worked his way across Abt as Warehouse Manager, Delivery Driver, Electronic Service Counter Manager, IT Help Desk, and even as a salesperson. If one person has done it all at Abt, it’s Dave. His current title? The IT Director and Infrastructure Manager. “My teammates and I work together to keep all of our systems running, help our processes continue to evolve, and improve our environment and business processes to help Abt run more efficiently—all while improving the customer experience.”
When asked what his favorite memory at Abt was, Dave had a long list. “I have a lot of great memories and I have learned from and worked with so many great people over the years. One was when I met my girlfriend Rose, who has been my wife for 23 years. She was the driving force to push me in life and to go back to school and pursue a degree.”
“Another fun memory was when Bob Abt used to ask me to take his V12 Jaguar to get gas and get him a Tuna Sandwich from Maxwell’s Restaurant on Dempster in Morton Grove. Man, that car was fast!” Another favorite memory? Winning the Employee of the Year award.
But what he’s truly proud of isn’t his Employee of the Year award, it’s his son. “I encouraged Jake to pursue a career in IT, and I’m glad he listened. Technology is part of our world in so many facets, and it is always changing and evolving. I get to see (Jake) continue to grow as a person and gain experience. I hear compliments about him and his work and that makes me happy. I am proud of Jake.”
Jake has had Abt in his blood for longer than the 5 years that he’s worked here, too. “I was introduced to Abt by coming to Bring Your Kid to Work Day back in 2008. My dad brought me into the store and I would play computer games, do arts and crafts with the customer service reps and go on tours around the store. Fun times.”
Seeing all the computer servers and different technologies that his dad helped to maintain sparked an interest in him from a young age. Just like his father, Jake began working at Abt in the warehouse. After two years of part-time work in high school, he discovered a passion for Information Technology that he and his father both shared. That’s when he joined the department as an intern back in 2019.
When asked what he loves about his job, Jake replied that “there are always projects to work on. Whether it’s fixing a computer, setting up a new employee or moving departments, there are always improvements to be made. The best thing about working with my Dad is being able to learn from his experiences. I have learned many different processes about the store, the infrastructure, and how interconnected each department is. He pushes me to learn more so I can further pursue my passion in IT.”
Favorite after-work activities? “My dad and I both play hockey for “Chicos Bail Bonds” Abt’s Elite hockey team. It is one of my favorite ‘work’ events because it is very fun to play alongside my coworkers and often the Abt family will come out to play too. We also volunteer at Abt’s For Autistic Kids Foundation every year and it is always a great time to surround yourself with good people for a good cause”.
We’re proud to celebrate Father’s Day with one of the best father-son duos at Abt. Watch out for them on the ice!
In search of ideas for what to do with your own father figure this year? Check out our article on activities to do this Father’s Day.