Employee Spotlight- Peggy Kusina

If you want an intelligent, innovative employee for your business, hire a retired school teacher. Peggy Kusina retired after 34 years of teaching math and science in the Petoskey Middle School. She thought she’d take it easy, do a few odd jobs, and enjoy retirement. When an ad for an Administrative Assistant at Castle Farms appeared, she went for it, thinking it would be nice to take on a part time job. It didn’t take long for Linda Mueller, owner of Castle Farms, to realize what she had found in Peggy. She was promoted within 1 month of being hired to Tour Director. This was quite a change from teaching and being a mom, two roles that she felt defined her.

“I was old enough to retire and I started a whole new career.”

The position entailed rolling a cart with a TV and VHS player down the hall and setting it up near the main entrance. Add an 8ft table and a few pamphlets and she was ready to greet guests of the newly opened Castle Farms. Her “Welcome Center” quickly grew to include a showcase for gift shop items which she was so proud of. When it was decided that the Castle needed an official gift shop, Peggy was instrumental in the design concept for the new space. Along with the new gift shop came a new title, Tour and Gift Shop Director. The most recent addition to the Welcome Center & Gift Shop was dedicated to Peggy.

Her husband of 40 years, Dennis, supports her in all things, and even is a Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce Ambassador with Peggy. Peggy was asked to be an ambassador for the chamber in 2006, the first year the chambers implemented the program.

Fast forward to 2013; Peggy decided that she didn’t want to continue working full time, but couldn’t imagine leaving Castle Farms after watching it grow over the years. A new position was created called Castle Ambassador, which let Peggy reduce her hours and her managerial responsibilities while still maintaining a close connection to the Castle. Her new responsibilities included attending Chamber of Commerce networking events and promoting the Castle throughout the community.

Another reason for stepping back came in the form of a bouncing baby girl, Zoey, her first grandchild. Daughter Kelly and Son-in-law James live in Seattle and Peggy needed time to visit the newest addition. She picked up knitting and made adorable pieces for Zoey, including sweaters, hats, booties, and more. Peggy wanted to create a legacy through Zoey, the same way her own mother would create clothes for Kelly.

These days, Peggy puts her organizing skills to work at the Castle, cleaning and arranging storage areas for different departments. She helps with planting, weeding, watering and general upkeep of the gardens at the Castle. She has also taken on Christmas decorating for the Castle, no small feat. Each year she creates tree displays, garlands, wreaths, and tableau, enjoyed by each guest who visits. She is looking forward to Kevin’s marriage to Meghan this August in Ann Arbor as well as future visits to Seattle to see Kelly, James, and of course, Zoey. Retirement has been a busy time for Peggy, and we at the Castle are so lucky!

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