Female executive has seen many
changes in workforce
By NATALIE HESS
KENDALLVILLE - Women saturate
today's workforce more than they did a century, or even
half-century, ago. When Lorene Bonar graduated from high school
in 1942, many of her friends got jobs at Lincoln Life in Fort
Wayne. Bonar decided she did not desire the daily commute to
Fort Wayne, so she looked closer to home for work.
"There weren't as many options back then. Women would
go into teaching, nursing or beautician work," recalled
Bonar. "Other than that, it was mainly secretarial work
that was available."
Bonar's first employer was McCray Memorial Hospital in Kendallville.
After a year of secretarial work there, she changed jobs and
began working for Seamade Boat Manufacturing. Seamade went back
to its original boat manufacturer of Starcraft. Essex then bought
the building from Seamade and offered Bonar a job as an office
manager for Essex. Some 37 years later, Bonar still works for
Essex. Her only leave of absence was a three-month time period
when she attempted stay-at-home mothering.
"I'm better adjusted and better organized when I'm working,"
said Bonar. "I didn't feel it was a necessity to stay home.
My son had both of his grandmothers here in town to help see
that he got to and from school."
Some mothers would opt working in fields in which they could
come and go in between children. However, Bonar said in order
to move up, she felt it was important to stay within the workplace.
When Bonar's son graduated from high school and enrolled at
Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Bonar recognized her
dream of attending college.
"We had a circle meeting at church. We were going around
telling one thing we wished we had done in our life," recalled
Bonar told the circle that she had always wanted to go to
college and planned to do it one day. A couple of weeks later,
a woman from her circle confided to Bonar that she too wanted
to attend college. Together, the two women researched their options
and enrolled for the January semester at IPFW.
Evening classes, weekend classes and car pools that occupied
five years of Bonar's life led her to attaining a business management
degree. Bonar's college degree and experience at Essex led her
to the sole purchasing agent position at Essex.
Bonar has watched work conditions change a lot during her
years at Essex. The advent of copiers replaced carbon papers
early in the 1960s. Ten or 15 years ago, faxes came along. In
the early 1980s, personal computers entered the office. Orders
that used to be typed manually could be made on the PC. Bonar
said Essex had a single computer, and employees scheduled themselves
around each other to use it. Adapted to the technology, Bonar
hopes to get hooked up to the Internet at her home computer once
As a longtime female executive, Bonar has experienced transformations
of the work force.
"The dress code used to be business-like," said
Bonar. "Companies began adopting casual Fridays, then Mondays.
Now it seems that casual attire is acceptable all week long."
Bonar feels that when in a position to meet the public, attire
should be more professional in the workplace.
However, Bonar appreciates the ethical changes of the years.
She remembers when large gifts of monetary value were given by
salesmen to companies. But in the 1980s companies began considering
the dangers of this.
"It was bad because when awarding a contract, companies
would feel as if they owed a business something," said Bonar.
Retirement lays ahead for Bonar. She plans to continue ceramics,
raising Siberian huskies and traveling. She may look into part-time
work. Bonar also hopes to go to Greece one day with her husband.
Since she has already earned a college degree, raised a child,
worked full-time, visited 50 U.S. states, 26 countries and four
continents, adding Greece to the agenda will probably not be
a far stretch for this longtime female executive.