When you have a passion for natural foods and great brands – not to mention a penchant for marketing – landing a position with Justin’s is likely a dream come true.
At least it is for Rick Morris, the inaugural Pride of the Jersey recipient at the Boulder, Colo., company.
“Rick was perfect as the first-ever winner of the jersey at Justin’s because he embodies the best of Justin’s and Hormel Foods,” says Mike Guanella, president of Justin’s.
Joining the Justin’s Team
Rick signed on with Justin’s in 2010 as a part-time college intern while he was a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Justin’s founder, Justin Gold, was on campus regularly, Rick recalls, sharing his success story with classes of aspiring entrepreneurs. In addition, Rick’s friend Kelly had interned with the company in 2009 and couldn’t say enough about it.
Rick capitalized on his good fortune. He jumped at the opportunity to work for Justin’s, and he married Kelly just six months ago. He’s now a brand manager who oversees the Justin’s spreads line, the biggest piece of the company’s revenue pie. In less than a decade, Rick has seen the company grow and develop beyond his wildest imaginings.
“When I started, we had five employees. Now, there are about 30 of us,” he says.
There’s no such thing as busy work here. Everything matters.Rick Morris, Justin’s brand manager
The growth has been fueled in part by Hormel Foods, which has owned Justin’s since 2016. That, coupled with the strong foundation established by Justin [Gold], are positioning Justin’s for long-term success, Rick believes.
“Justin has shared his vision across the broader organization and set the path for some really great things we can achieve,” he says. “Now, under Hormel Foods, we have an ability to invest in research and improve our supply chain. There have been a lot of changes for the better in our product line, like higher-quality, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, for example.”
“Rick is a passionate brand steward who believes in the products, the brand and the natural foods industry,” Mike says. “And he also emulates the values we uphold at Hormel Foods: hard work and diligence. He’s just a great team member.”
Journey to Colorado
Rick was born and raised in New Jersey, the seventh of 11 Morris kids. The Centennial State has become home though, and Rick is good with that. He’s a fan of “everything there is to do in Colorado,” including snowboarding, mountain-biking and taking in warm-weather concerts at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre. When he leaves the state, it’s often for faraway lands. He and Kelly have visited nearly 20 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, exploring all that nature and foreign cities have to offer.
Back at the office, yes, he’s living the dream.
“You get to see your work come to life. There’s no such thing as busy work here. Everything matters,” he says. “You work really hard, and then a few months later, you see [the results] on a shelf or in an ad.”
Of course, it’s not always easy. As Justin’s and Hormel Foods have worked to become one during the past two years, there have been expected challenges and the need for hard work. But it’s been worth it, Rick maintains.
“Hormel Foods has proven itself over and over that it’s dedicated to our mission.”