Morningstar Storage isn’t just another self storage company. Our team goes above and beyond to share our values in our stores and communities. In this installment of our Employee Spotlight series, we want you to meet Gewina Lawson, Store Manager for Morningstar South End Storage in Charlotte, NC.
Working for a company for 26 years will inevitably lead to two things: at least one funny story and a lifelong passion for learning new things. For Gewina Lawson, a long-tenured member of the Morningstar Storage family, those two things seem to happen at least every day. We recently sat down with Gewina to learn more about her experiences and why she’s stuck with us since the earliest days.
How She Found Her Way to Morningstar
Gewina got started as a manager for Morningstar back when the interview process involved many of the company’s first team members, including our much-beloved founder and CEO, Stephen Benson (Mr. B). After learning about the open position via a recruiter, she went through the process of two panel interviews that also involved Phyllis McArthur, then-CFO and one of Morningstar’s original employees, founding partner Neville Christie, and current VP of Storage Strategy Brian Pelski—some of the original members of the Morningstar team! Mr. B. called her shortly thereafter and said he was “tickled pink” to hire her. In those days, each member of the company revolved through as district managers of sorts, and Gewina credits the chance to work directly with them as a highlight of her career.
On Cherished Memories with Morningstar
You don’t manage eight stores over the course of nearly three decades without making some cherished memories. For Gewina, two stand out above the others. In the years while her children were young, Mr. B would make a note of her children’s Christmas wish lists each year and then call the house and leave messages on the answering machine pretending to be Santa Claus, reciting each list over the phone in detail – a much-loved bit of of holiday magic for her family.
More recently, during the global pandemic, Gewina wanted to do something to make her teammates laugh, so she petitioned current Morningstar CEO David Benson to dance on video for 15 seconds. She asked other members of both the corporate and store leadership teams to join in the fun. And because everyone immediately said yes, no questions asked, it led to an entertaining dance compilation video that put some much-needed smiles on several faces across the entire company. (For the dignity of the dance-challenged but good-spirited participants, we will not share the video, but we will say there’s a reason most of our careers are in storage and not in dancing.)
What’s Changed for Morningstar? What Does the Future Hold?
Even though the buildings, the decor, and some of the functions of the business have changed, one thing hasn’t: the company’s values. That’s important to Gewina, and one of several reasons why she’s stayed with the company for so long. “Even as things continue to improve,” she says, “what makes Morningstar ‘Morningstar’ is still there.”
Because of this, she says, the only direction the company can go is upward and onward.
At work, Gewina is passionate about her customers and being empathetic to their needs. She’ll laugh and talk with them for hours, but she’ll also lend a caring ear, too. In fact, she believes that empathy is a superpower of hers, something she shares with many of our managers. When she’s away from the store, her great passions are her family and education. She comes from a big family—with 10 siblings!—and has five children of her own. That makes large family gatherings a highlight of her life.
Giving Back to the Community
Gewina is also passionate about education, and with a household full of teachers—all five children and her husband—it’s a major priority for her community involvement. She loves attending school sporting events and taking part in fundraisers and community projects. Another organization she frequently cites as important is the American Cancer Society.
How She Spends Free Time
“When I have free time,” she says, laughing, “I really love running, shopping, dancing, and singing.” She’s also a fan of travel, with the Bahamas as a recent favorite destination. If you ask where she’d like to visit in the future, Hawaii is on the list.
Gewina describes herself as a morning person, and getting up at 4 am or 5 am every day proves it (oof). “That’s when I do most of my thinking and planning,” she explains, “but I’m also in bed by seven or eight o’clock.”
Professional Advice and Storage Insights
She cites the desire to learn every day as one piece of advice that’s really stuck with her through the years and one thing that’s helped her continue to grow as a manager. Learning from mistakes, she says, is a prime example.
Advice for Potential Morningstar Employees
“It’s a fun place,” Gewina says. “Somewhere that allows you the opportunity to learn, grow, and really be creative. No one stays in the same mindset for long because there is always something new to pick up.”
Want to join Gewina? We’re always looking for dedicated people to help make a difference in our communities and customers’ lives. If you want Gewina to make you laugh and help find the right storage unit, give her a call or visit her in-store today.