2018 Leading the Way Founders’ Award winner

By Julie Johnson

You might just as well find Lori Seiler scrubbing a toilet as sitting through a board meeting at Alamance Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband own Seiler Services, Inc, a HUD-designated woman-owned janitorial company in Alamance County.

Never afraid of hard work and always interested in the best for her employees, Lori steps right in when someone is sick or has to miss work for other emergencies.

“When we started Seiler Services, we said we wouldn’t treat employees as if they’re replaceable, the way large organizations treat them. We want our employees to know someone cares, and we always do our best to say thank you.”

It’s an approach that’s worked well for Lori, with both the company’s supervisors putting in more than 18 years of service and many employees more than 10. “Employees are a part of our family.”

And families take care of each other.

Taking the Dive

One thing Lori’s learned to appreciate about Alamance County is how folks here do that—treat one another like family. She and her husband moved here to start the business in 1993. With no connections other than her husband’s parents and sister, she joined Newcomers and dove into networking and volunteering.

Soon she was invited to attend a Burlington Junior Women’s Club event, and when she learned about all the club was doing in the community, she signed up for everything. She could barely contain her excitement about the impact they were making.

That was the start for Lori. Now part of the Burlington Women’s Club and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, she’s helped start the Mebane and Greater Alamance chapters, served as president, and won numerous local, state, and national awards.

But her community involvement doesn’t stop there. She’s also active in the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, where in 2016, Lori gained the honor of being its 4th female chairman in a 100-year history. Current chamber president Mac Williams says, “Lori embraced the chamber’s mission, brought energic and enthusiastic support to our programming, and was a strategic thinker about how we could improve and expand our reach. As Board Chair, her theme for that year was, ‘I’m All In!’ That does the best job of describing how Lori approaches all of her commitments.”

She’s also served on the boards of both Alamance Arts and the United Way of Alamance.

Lori believes so strongly in the power of community: “As individuals, we may not make a big impact, but collectively we can.” She emphasizes that community involvement creates change. Visible change.

Recognizing Those Who’ve Come Before

If she could send a message to her younger self today, that’s something Lori would love to say. Community involvement means investing in close relationships, and she’d advise her younger self to start building lasting friendships early in life.

Some of the women who’ve inspired Lori to inspire others include Barbara Massey, whom she met through the Alamance Chamber of Commerce. She says of Massey, “Her commitment to education is amazing,” and she applauds the impact Massey is making through Alamance Achieves.

Also influenced by Lisa Pennington, current Chairman of Alamance Chamber and Past President of Alamance Arts, she says Lisa’s passion for the arts is a great asset to our county, and Lori believes Alamance Arts should get more recognition for supporting artists and art programs in our community.

And though this blog is centered on the achievements of the ladies, Lori couldn’t resist mentioning Bob Byrd as a personal influence. A former candidate for county commissioner, Bob shares Lori’s deep love for the community, and she applauds his continuing commitment to this place she calls home.

Getting Up for Good Reasons

You’ve probably recognized what wakes Lori up in the morning and keeps her going from dawn to dusk: community involvement. People. Relationships. Planting roots in the community and connecting with others are some of her deepest passions.

Beyond that, she’s pushing for health care reform. The limitations in choice and high cost of premiums these days have her contacting legislators to try to get some options on the table for small business owners. Lori—and she believes others like her—would like to offer company employees health care, but the rising costs and limitations in plan options make that very difficult and sometimes impossible.

As she champions this issue, she also looks forward. She hopes to let go of the pressure she puts on herself to meet unrealistic expectations and to accept the things she has no power to change. In the meantime, she’ll keep working hard at making a difference here in the community she loves… one day at a time.