They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life – and that’s what motivates record holder Walter Orthmann to still walk into the office at the age of 96.

Beginning his career in 1938, Walter was just 15 years old when he started his job as a shipping assistant at Industria Reneaux in Santa Catarina, Brazil.

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80 years later, Walter is now an active and successful Sales Manager for the textile business, earning him the record title for the Longest career in the same company.

"Back in 1938, kids were expected to work to help support the family. As the oldest son of five, my mother took me to find a job at the age of 14. Since that time, the best moments in my job were when I was away selling all over the country and bringing home a fat list of orders that would keep production busy the next three months. In my travels I had the chance to meet people and get to know distant and different places. I established good relationships with clients who became friends. I always liked to travel and meet people."

Walter with his family

Walter has seen a fair amount of change in the industry and the company itself, which now trades under the name RenauxView, over the course of his career.

There were huge changes in terms of manufacturing processes and the machines he used for his work.

"At the time I started working, looms would weave fabrics at a snail pace; the average production output of a Jacquard loom would vary from 20-50 metres per day (depending on the fabric), whereas today 400-600 metres of the same fabric can be woven in a day. After one year, I was given a promotion as an assistant clerk.

"The only machines we had at the office were typewriters. The first calculator I saw in my life was in the mid-1940s, when I was given one to help my work in the invoicing department. At first, I was rather suspicious of the machine. How could a machine calculate? So, for the first week I would double check the results with my own manual calculations. Today, I still have a typewriter in my office, but I use a tablet to check and answer emails."

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Starting in the mail room, he worked his way up from Assistant Clerk, to Head of Invoicing and then Sales Manager - his current role.

In this role, Walter is responsible for traveling and keeping up with the fast-paced, ever-changing fashion industry, to which he is proud to say he has no trouble with.

He enjoys seeing the evolution of business, especially in the commercial world, and has performed so well that many of his colleagues are thankful to have him as a part of the business.

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"I always felt good doing my work and I always had the support of the management to carry on with my job. I considered the company my other family, and the thought of leaving the company never crossed my mind except, perhaps, when I thought I was going to be forced to retire back in 1978. At that time it was a common practice for companies to dismiss their employees when they reached their retiring age. 

"In my case, I was lucky that the president of the company asked me to stay thanks to my good selling record. I have a passion for work, and have noticed that most of the people I knew that retired soon lost their will to live. I like to keep my routine so much that sometimes when I drive to the supermarket I find myself actually driving to the company!"

Now, Walter says his only challenge is finding ways to creatively sell more of the company's product.

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At 96, Walter says that anyone who wishes to have a successful career should embody humility and honesty and never stop learning about the job, company and all of its departments.

He thoroughly believes in trying your best in the present and treating each day that way.

"Having something productive to occupy your mind with is good for your physical and mental health. I derive pleasure from working because it makes me feel alive. Some people think I’m a bit crazy because I don’t even like to take holidays. But the day I stop working is the day I get sick. While I’m healthy and fit I’ll keep on working."

Walter now has many fond memories to look back on since beginning his record-breaking career, including being recognised on a global scale.

"With my Guinness World Records title, I feel proud, honoured and happy to have achieved something that on the one hand is rather rare, but on the other is simply the result of my passion to work as something that makes me wholesome."

Longest career at the same company