Steve Blevins’ parents gave him a talent for numbers. “My mom is good with calculus and higher math, while my dad can do arithmetic in his head.” The trait has paid dividends for Steve in his 18-year career with Hormel Foods. He’s grateful to the company that, in his words, “allowed him to work his way from the ground up.” He’s also appreciative that Hormel Foods established an ERG for LGBTQIA employees four years ago. Co-leading the ERG is one way Steve can further diversity and inclusion, both of which add up to a good thing for everyone.
Tell us about your childhood.
I was born and raised in Walled Lake, Michigan, a rural town close to Novi, Michigan. I’m an only child. My father was an engineer and my mother was a teacher. When I was young, my dad worked nights and my mother worked days so that one of them could be with me. My dad was 39 when I was born. He was healthy and in great shape, but it kind of meant I had to entertain myself most of the time. Fortunately, there were tons of kids around. About 20—a hoard of us—who would do things together. There was always something going on. I just knew I had to come home when it got dark.
I understand your dad’s job came with a perk.
You have to be a little older to appreciate this. As I mentioned, my dad was an engineer. Specifically, he was a heating and cooling engineer for the Detroit public school system. You might remember Mumford High from the “Beverly Hills Cops” movies that were popular in the ‘80s. Well, Mumford was one of the schools my dad worked in. He would get T-shirts and other things that said Mumford. It was pretty cool. All of my friends would ask where I got them.
What else did your parents give you?
They gave me a strong work ethic. Both are detail-oriented people. They’re good with numbers, which plays into what I do these days. [Note: Steve is currently a category business analyst.] They were tough, too. Dad was one of 13 kids who grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky. Everything he got he paid for with sweat equity.
To me, life should be a journey. I think it should be exciting.Steve Blevins
How did you get from Detroit to Hormel Foods?
I was working for Michael’s in Michigan, where I was raised. My wife, Angie, and I wanted to be closer to her family in Minnesota. We decided to move and raise our son closer to her family. I transferred with Michael’s and was an assistant store manager when I found an opening at Hormel Food. I applied for a position in the Minneapolis office of Hormel Foods and was hired as an administrative assistant. Essentially, my job was to take the financial administrative burden off of the sales people. Eventually this position would develop and become part of the Service Center that we have today. That was the beginning of my tenure with the company.
Tell us about your involvement with one of the company’s ERGs?
I’ve been part of HProud since it was formed about four years ago. It’s the ERG that supports our LGBTQIA—or gender-different—population. There are a lot of us in the group. We don’t worry about anyone’s reason for being there. All that matters is that we’re working together to build a safe and inclusive work environment for everyone at Hormel Foods.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m currently working on my degree in liberal arts and business administration at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, so that takes up a lot of time. But Angie and I have a passion for music. Metal, folk, everything except country, really. I play the guitar and keyboard. Angie sings. We don’t perform, but it’s an interest we share.
I also like to run, walk and hike. In fact, I try to take most of my conference calls while walking outside around our building.
Tell us about your food journey.
My food palette was incredibly bland when I was growing up. My mom served a lot of home-cooked meals, but we didn’t experiment with a lot of spices. My only exposure to Mexican food, for instance, was from a fast-food chain, which really isn’t authentic. When I met my wife—who does the cooking for our family—she had her work cut out for her!
Have your culinary tastes changed over time?
Over the years, I grew to enjoy expensive cheeses, Thai food, many exotic dishes. However, in the last year, I’ve had to make a lot of dietary changes. Due to health reasons, my wife and I have had to rethink our association to food. We make basically everything from scratch and gave up gluten, yeast, milk-based products and all sugar. Needless to say, this has shifted our focus considerably! We still love a lot of Asian dishes and will seek out a lot of other cultures as well. We still enjoy red meat, but often it will be an ingredient and not the main entrée, which is another change for us.
Who handles the cooking in the Blevins household?
I love all types of food, but I’m absolutely horrible in the kitchen. Angie is amazing. Even more so because she’s around corporate chefs all day in her job in food service. The problem is, she can’t even teach me because she’s one of those people who doesn’t follow recipes. It’s a pinch of this and a dash of that.
Do you have a dream job?
If ever there were a regional diversity and inclusion position, I’d be all over that. I’ve learned what a big part that plays in our ERGs. How do we make sure everyone is included when people in general don’t take a lot of time to learn about their neighbors? I’d like to help change that.