It’s family first for Jody Levchuk, director of operations for Jilly’s Boardwalk shops
JODY LEVCHUK wasn’t born yet when his family first opened Jilly’s Arcade – named after his mother, Jill, in 1976 (40 years ago!). But it was his destiny to run the Jilly’s empire as its director of operations in an office lined with colorful, plastic ball prizes, blank t-shirts and paperwork. Stroll down the boards and you’ll find Jilly’s $1 Store, Jilly’s Ice Cream Factory and Jilly’s French Fry Factory, Jilly’s T-Shirt Factory and of course, the 24-hour a day arcade (yes, it’s always open in summer). For Jody, having the business named after his mom set the tone; business and family are one in the same, and there is no real line between work and play when your job is to bring fun to the Ocean City Boardwalk 364 days a year.
What is a favorite childhood memory?
Over the years, the first thing that comes to mind is the time I spent with my grandmother Beverly Kreisberg. She worked here, I worked for her as my first job and I grew up next door to her.
What part of the business is your favorite?
My favorite part of the business is that I work for myself. I dictate my own responsibilities but it’s the most challenging part too. Really the best part is no one has a better office view than me. I look at the beach and Boardwalk everyday.
What talent would you like to have?
I love music. I’m very musical in my mind so I guess I’d love to sound as good as I think I sound.
What is your favorite thing about where you live?
It’s such a great town. I live on an island. I live on the water. It’s a beautifully run town. Our infrastructure is as good as it gets. There’s no crime in this town. I live here and make my living here. Even though in summers we’re busier, from a work perspective, it’s easier. You’re really on cruise control.
Who is a person you admire?
My father, Paul. He started from nothing. Nothing was handed to him. He grew up dirt poor. He never went to college but he found a way to better himself and become an extremely charitable, hardworking, giving person. I admire him for everything from being married to my mom for almost 45 years and raising good children to his continuing every day to be a better person and role model for so many people.
What would you do with $5 million dollars?
It depends on who’s handing it to me, I guess! I was always raised to share. I don’t know exactly what I’d do but it’s very safe to say I wouldn’t hoard it. It depends on what’s going on at the time.
What would you do if you could do anything?
I always wanted to be a trial attorney. When I realized that 90 percent of it is reading and writing, I realized it wasn’t for me.
What traits do you look for in employees? Friends?
Loyalty. Whether you’re an employee or friend or family member, you’re part of a circle that I have. In order to be in that circle there’s a tremendous amount of loyalty that you have to have. That’s the first thing I look for. If you have that, it’s hard to ask for many other things. Loyalty breeds trust, it breeds love, fun… a lot of things.
What’s your favorite motto?
If you don’t love your job, you’re never going to be successful at it. And it’s up to you to decide what success means.
I probably would have designed Fry Guy to be about 6 inches taller. That keeps me up at night.