The Sand Reminds Him
HORMEL FOODS CORPORATION
Hormel Foods Corporation is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of food and meat products for consumers throughout the world. Products include hams, bacon, sausages, franks, stews, chili, hash, pepperoni, party trays, shelf-stable microwavable entrees, and salsa.
The company has about 20,500 employees, 63 percent of whom have been with the company for five or more years. Company headquarters are in Austin, Minnesota. Also in Austin are the company’s flagship plant and its research and development division. Hormel Foods also has major manufacturing facilities in Algona, Iowa; Alma, Kansas; Atlanta; Fremont, Nebraska; and Stockton, California. The company sells products in all 50 states through a direct sales force assigned to offices in major cities. Their efforts are supported by sales brokers and distributors.
Transitioning from a military career to one in business can be challenging, and the company tries to help make that transition rewarding for veterans. Hormel Foods has a companywide veterans/military employee resource group, the Hormel Military Veterans Engagement Team (HMVET). The group provides assistance to former and current military members and their families as they integrate into the Hormel Foods culture, while providing a platform for continued camaraderie throughout their career at the company.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | JARED LEE
Jared Lee is a human resources coordinator at Osceola Food in Iowa. He served in the United States Marine Corps for six years as an ammunition technician, earning the rank of sergeant, and was forward-deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During his first tour, Lee was part of a 100-person provisional rifle platoon attached to an Army infantry unit that provided base security at Al Taqaddum (TQ), Al Anbar Province. During his second tour, he was assigned as an ammunition technician for HQ&S Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, also at TQ. Other leadership roles included squad leader, platoon sergeant, and company training NCO.
He joined Hormel Foods in April 2010, after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Lee’s military experience not only helped him land a career after his Marine service, it also helped him complete his education. “In the Marines, I learned the values of hard work, perseverance, adaptability, and overcoming challenges,” he said. “These helped me earn my bachelor’s degree while working full time, which led to a career with Hormel Foods. I still use these values daily.
“I encourage everyone to put forth the effort necessary to earn a degree – whether occupational or professional. This almost always advances your career potential. However, it’s not always necessary for a management position at Hormel Foods. Military work ethic and principles also allow many of our team members to enjoy the same benefits of employment at Hormel Foods while working in production or other skilled positions, such as quality control or maintenance.”
The leadership skills Lee developed in the Marine Corps are still helping him on a daily basis. “Few of my military job skills are usable in my current position, but almost all of the leadership skills are useful,” he said. “The greatest benefit for me is being able to deal with stress. The Corps placed me in situations that required acting quickly and decisively under pressure to complete the mission. I learned to accept the responsibility of my decisions and actions, and to support the reasons why I made those decisions. This skill has been essential to my career at Hormel Foods. As a reminder, I keep a small jar of sand from the beach of Iwo Jima on my desk. No matter how hard the obstacle, I can persevere to the end and achieve the goal.”
Lee believes the military gave him the confidence to succeed. “I tend to be introverted,” he said. “The military helped boost confidence in my abilities and pushed me to come out of my shell. However, the military is not the only experience that shaped who I am today – my upbringing, beliefs, college, and other work experiences all contributed. My advice: Be who you are, and use your military skills to your advantage in the civilian workplace.”
The Marine veteran was able to fit into the culture at Hormel Foods with no problem. “Our leadership structure is conducive to employees with a military background,” he said. “I easily transitioned into the company’s culture of responsibility and integrity.”
He encourages men and women to go above and beyond while they are in the military. “Make yourself employable,” he said. “Take college courses, earn certificates, attend military leadership courses, and push yourself to exceed the status quo. Also, learn how to prepare an excellent resume and how to answer interview questions. Most military installations provide these services for transitioning vets.”
When it comes to landing a position at Hormel Foods, Lee said veterans should be prepared to sell themselves. “Explain to the recruiter and/or interviewer how your skill set is relevant to the position for which you applied,” he said. “Hormel Foods looks at what you have done or learned as an indicator of what you will do, not what you think you would do. Prepare stories and examples that highlight your experience, work ethic, and skill set.”