Real Wealth Society

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I’ve been thinking about Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Oct 1st, 2006 I’ve been thinking about pride. Actually I’ve been thinking about quality and safety, Rochelle Foods, products, BINGO, tours, “sampling,” inflatable’s, and Hormel. Last Saturday Rochelle Foods staged their Quality Appreciation Day 2006 for employees and their families (and invited guests). Over 3,000 tickets to the festivities had been given out to this bi-annual event. It was a beautiful day and a great time was had by all who participated. Almost 740 are currently employed at the Rochelle plant.

You see quality, safety, and pride are not just some hollow buzz words for the Rochelle based subsidiary of Hormel Corporation, they represent key goals and central standards by which they benchmark their performance. For eleven years running (1995- 2005), the Rochelle facility has received Hormel’s Safety Excellence Award. And… receiving the 2006 Award will bring their run to a dozen consecutive years! Just how many food processing facilities have bragging rights to a record like that?

As you enter the corporate office wing from the West, you are greeted by a VERY large display case filled with framed certificates, trophies, and awards won by the plant and its employees. Such kudos and acknowledgements come from hard work and a dedication to providing the highest quality products for its consumers in a safe working environment for its employees. Rochelle Foods is proud of what it does, and it is very good at it. Their employees take a great deal of pride and care in their work.

The Rochelle plant location is known for its hot dogs, ham products, and bacon products (retail and institutional). Since March 6, 2006, it’s been making a name for its vacuum sealed, microwaveable entrees. These require no refrigeration and have a shelf life of about two years. Line One for these meals occupies the completely refurbished (former) slaughtering area that was part of the completed $20 MILLION expansion/renovation at Rochelle.

More than 60,000 units are prepared, processed, and packaged daily at the plant. These are currently the fastest growing products from Hormel. Line Two, part of the CURRENT $20 MILLION expansion/renovation at Rochelle, will commence operations in February 2007 - and will double output of these convenience products. I was totally unaware of them; so I ran down a selection of six different entrées at the local WalMart on Sunday after church. I enjoyed the “Pot Roast, Potatoes and Carrots in Brown Gravy” before I started writing this column. Let me tell you, it was REALLY good and ready in 90 seconds! (I intend to try the “Chicken and Rice” selection Sunday night while I watch “60 Minutes.”)

This was the third time David Roinas had the Creston Booster Club furnish the equipment and “person power” for the three hours of free BINGO for prizes for the attendees. Each time we received a tour of the plant. Production was shut down for the event and there were work team representatives to explain things throughout the tour. In typical Fred fashion, I asked more questions than the Spanish Inquisition. I was completely impressed by the answers, the knowledge, and the pride exhibited by the guides. To say that the plant was spotless was an understatement. The facilities were every bit as immaculate as one would expect from a first class operation which produces/processes America’s food products. Each location explained the intensive quality control process and while we didn’t see the actual on-site lab, some of the displays showed photos of testing in progress. The high tech analytical gizmos looked like something out of the “CSI” TV show laboratories. It was awesome!

When you exited the tour, there were the serving lines for lunch. All were treated to “foot long” Dodger Dogs ™ (from the Farmer John subsidiary in California), Lloyd’s BBQ ™ (from the Lloyd’s subsidiary in Minnesota), build-it-yourself taco bowls, potato salad, baked beans, and beverages. The Dodger Dogs ™ were a special treat as they are available in the West and are featured at Dodger Stadium and select ballparks across the US. I had mine naked - I mean without any condiments added - because I wanted to see if they were as outstanding and flavorful as I had heard - they were!

Between the food tents and the BINGO, there were numerous inflated amusements and pony rides for the kids. Ah… to be that age again, with all that energy and flexibility! The children had a blast and the adults had fun watching the kids scale this, bounce on that, crawl over whatever, and slide down the summits. There was “inflated jousting” and “twister.” There was even a dunk “management” tank.As the attendees left, each employee received a special gift assortment from plant manager Cal Jacobs and his helpers, and all were bid goodbye by “SPAMIE.” (BTW: the “Chicken and Rice” was as good as the “Pot Roast!”) I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright Questions, Inc. 2006 all right reserved.


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