Innova’s Grandmother Retires

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On paper, Karen Moye was the Packaging Department Lead, in charge of running the shrink-wrap machine that packaged 3-disc sets at the Innova East facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina. But in reality, she was so much more. “Miss Karen,” as she was known, was also the warehouse grandmother who helped to build a sense of family in the workplace. She retired this winter, leaving behind a stack of stories and memories that still echo through the warehouse.

Discovering Disc Golf

When Miss Karen was hired at Innova in 2003, she had never heard of disc golf before.
“I couldn’t believe people got so serious about throwing. To me, they were just Frisbees. However, I was corrected many times (that first year) that they were discs,” said Moye.

It didn’t take long for Moye to feel at home. She enjoyed the relaxed and fun atmosphere, and compared it to working with a bunch of fun-loving kids.

I told them after the first year that I worked there, that I’d retire there. The only way they’d get rid of me was if they fired me. I wasn’t going anywhere.
– Miss Karen

As years went by and disc golf and Innova got bigger, some things in the warehouse changed, but a lot of things stayed the same–like Miss Karen in the packaging area. Packaging, of course, became second nature to Miss Karen. Not only would she and her crew churn out “3 Packs,” but she’d tackle anything else from any other department that needed sorting or packing, including big box packaging, apparel sorting, and other large projects. It wasn’t uncommon to hear Miss Karen humming along as she whittled down a tower of t-shirts waiting to be packaged.

Miss Karen, front and center – Innova East 2017 Christmas party

Connecting Through Kindness

Karen’s presence was felt far beyond the packaging area. She had a way of touching everyone with her many acts of kindness. Every Innova East employee remembers how she regularly brought in a big bowl of banana pudding for everyone to share at lunch. She took the lead in decorating the warehouse for holidays, posted employee family pictures along the accounting office wall, and in general made the warehouse feel like a home.

Miss Karen did so many generous things it’s impossible to name them all. But that was Karen. To her, acts of kindness were her way of rewarding the people she loved working with.
“They made me feel special. I hope I impacted their lives too. I could make them smile by doing something nice for them,” said Moye, who visited each Innova employee with a holiday treat whenever Halloween, Christmas, or Easter would roll around.

Through the years, Andy Greene, Innova East Vice President of Operations, spent a lot of time working with Miss Karen. He said she exhibited a genuine sense of pride in her workplace. “Anyone who has worked here knows what a true feeling of family we have,” said Greene. “I think it’s safe to say that Miss Karen was the matriarch of our family for over fourteen years. Whether she was singing Happy Birthday to a fellow coworker over the loudspeaker or bringing in her homemade banana pudding to have at our weekly staff lunches, you could always count on her loving, personal touch.”

Miss Karen was honored at the Innova East Christmas Party last year, where she received a special retirement gift and many hugs. Video by Stuart Neal.

Home Away From Home

Before Innova, Miss Karen had other jobs. She worked at an apparel factory sewing garments. She also worked as an assistant manager at a garden center. But she didn’t find a home until she came to Innova.
“I have never worked for anybody that compares with Innova. If you’ve got a job with Innova you better keep it, because there are no other jobs like it out there,” said Moye, who lives outside of Rock Hill.

She ended up retiring a little earlier than expected because of health issues. And now that she’s left her 3 pack area for good, she’s getting used to post-Innova life with more time for grandchildren and other relatives. She’s also looking to do more spur-of-the-moment traveling.

“It’s nice just to pack up a bag and take off and go,” said Moye.

However, she misses her Innova people and crew, the conversations she’d have, and the feeling of satisfaction after a busy day. Innova misses her, too. The warehouse is not the same without her, that’s for sure. Not only did she turn countless people onto disc golf through her work assembling 3 packs, but she made the Innova warehouse a better—kinder–place.