General manager at Pizza Hut retiring after 29 years

By: 
KYLE RAPKOCH
Special to the Outlook
Tim Sampson
Tim Sampson

Laurel’s Pizza Hut has long been a top choice for birthday parties. It’s the dinner-pickup destination for harried parents on their way home from work and it’s packed with high school students at lunchtime. It’s safe to assume most Laurel homes have received delivery from the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant has been a part of the Laurel dining scene for so long, many Laurel residents are on a first-name basis with the employees, including the general manager, Tim Sampson.
Change is coming to the management at Laurel’s Pizza Hut on Jan. 31, as Sampson retires from the position of general manager after 29 years of working for the pizza chain. Sampson lives on the west end of Billings and commutes the short distance to Laurel in order to run the popular pizzeria. Of the 29 years that Sampson has worked at Pizza Hut, 19 of them have been been in Laurel.
Sampson found himself in a management position after about nine months in training, and has been an integral member of the management team in the area over the years. He contributed to the success of the large company in both Billings and Laurel. Sampson oversaw the seamless transition of the restaurant when it moved from the lot Taco Bell now occupies to its new building next to Walmart.
There is no question that Sampson will be missed by his coworkers come February. Employees in the restaurant said Sampson has been a good manager and friend. They made it clear that he is greatly appreciated at the store. That sentiment means a lot for someone working in an industry that is entirely under appreciated, Sampson noted.
“There is a sort of stigma about the food service industry, and it takes time and experience working with people to realize that it is all hogwash,” Sampson said, discussing the food service industry as a whole. He said most people who have not worked in restaurants do not understand how hard working you must be, especially in management.
Sampson acknowledged that dealing with people is not only his favorite part of working at Pizza Hut, but it is often the most difficult. Working with people on a daily basis can often be very challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding at times, he said.
“Customer service is an important part of any industry, and those who have real people skills can do just about anything they set their mind to,” Sampson said, adding that providing a great experience for the customer is central to managing any business, but it requires a lot of patience. Sampson said having patience helped get him through many situations at the store.
Starting Feb. 1, Sampson will be replaced by Denise Paffrath, a manager making the transition from the store in Hardin.
It won’t be easy filling Sampson’s shoes, but she will have a great crew at the Laurel location to help her take the reins. Sampson on the other hand, is looking forward to spending some time with his ​family. After nearly 30 years in the business, it is about time he enjoys a well-deserved break from it all.

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