Meet Steve Kunka - Route Salesperson, Second Nature Brands
Where are you from?I’m from Sterling Heights, MI. I grew up at 14 Mile & Dequindre. My Mom still lives in the house where I grew up.
Tell us about your career at Second Nature Brands.A friend of a friend told me that Kar’s was looking for people, so I filled out an application and started working in Ferndale on July 16, 1979. I started as what we called a “barrel boy”. I would have to move stainless steel barrels that were filled with very hot roasted nuts over to an elevator. I would send them up the elevator then walk up the stairs, get the barrel off the elevator, move it over to a dump elevator, and then it would be dumped into the hopper to be blended. Then I would go back down the stairs and do it again. I would do that all day long. Needless to say, I didn’t stay in that job long. Next, I became a machine operator which I really liked. Me and three other guys would do whatever it took to keep the machines running. There was only one maintenance person then so we would have to get creative to keep them running. I did that for about three years and then I moved to the warehouse and worked in shipping and receiving. That is where I worked with Nick (Nicolay, former owner of Kar’s). His dad had him doing different jobs at Kar’s. When Nick retired, I joked with him that he got further than me and got to retire before me. Nick was always fair and a generous guy. After that, I became a supervisor and was responsible for checking the orders for the route guys and pulling orders in the warehouse. I ran the shipping and receiving and the warehouse.
How did you get to your current job in route sales? Larry Stamos, who oversaw route sales at the time, suggested I go on a route. I liked the idea of a change of pace, being out on your own, and doing what you needed to do to get the job done.
What can you tell us about your family? My wife, Carolyn, is a nurse. We have been married 35 years and have two girls, Kelly and Rachel. I put both girls through college and both are married. We have two grandchildren, Levi and Layla, and another grandson due in October.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy boating. I like the outdoors, hunting, fishing, golfing. I plan to do more golfing when I retire. I hope to retire on my birthday next year, July 24, 2022.
What is your favorite thing about working at Second Nature Brands?The people.
Do you have a favorite memory from your long career?I would say the company picnics were the most memorable. One year we had dunk tanks and we got to dunk all the bosses, even Nick!
What is your favorite Second Nature Brands product?Before Sanders, it was our cashews. But then I had the peanut butter block and that put me over the edge. It is so good! Also, I really like the Kar's Nutty Krunch.