As an industrial engineering major, Grant Oldenburg had his sights set on the automotive industry. But all that changed when he spent a summer working for Hormel Foods at the former Fremont (Neb.) Plant.
As his internship progressed, Grant began to notice how the company treated its team members – and something else. “I liked the fact that it was a big company with a small feel,” he said.
Five years later, he knows he made a good choice. People at Hormel Foods have drawn the same conclusion, honoring Grant earlier this year with the first 2019 Pride of the Jersey award to be given out at Fontanini Foods (McCook, Ill.). Grant was taken aback by the prize. He had been with Fontanini only a year and thought there were other, more deserving people.
According to Maintenance Engineer Bogie Chmura, Grant is one of them. “I picked him for the Pride of the Jersey because he is the person who has not only inspired me but has inspired others during the short time he has worked with us,” he said, praising Grant’s commitment to teamwork and collaboration. “He gets everyone involved and gets the job done.”
Bogie recounted a time last winter when subzero temperatures made it necessary to go up to the roof to make sure the air-handling units were running. Grant pitched in and took his turns in the minus-30-degree weather.
He gets everyone involved and gets the job doneMaintenance Engineer Bogie Chmura
Grant moved to Fontanini from Austin, Minn., where he began his career at the Hormel Foods flagship plant. He worked in fresh pork and soon branched out to other areas such as rendering and shipping. When a promotion to industrial engineering manager presented itself at Fontanini, Grant, Sarah – his wife – and their yellow lab, Lane, jumped at the chance to move to Illinois.
It could have been tricky. Hormel Foods had recently acquired the company, which specializes in Italian meats and sausages. If longtime team members had been standoffish, it would have been understandable. Instead, Grant was received with open arms.
“Eight or nine of us have come from Hormel Foods to work with the original Fontanini team,” he explained, giving insight into how he has Built Bridges with his new teammates, some of whom report to him. “I treated everyone with respect. It’s how I grew up – work hard, be helpful. It’s not about telling them what to do, but being there with them.”
Outside of Work
When he’s not climbing on rooftops, so to speak, Grant is soaking up the outdoors. He and Sarah have a cabin on a lake near the Wisconsin Dells, and Sarah’s parents own 200 acres in northern Illinois. They’re ideal spots for hunting, fishing and reflecting on one of the best decisions Grant has ever made.
“For any new person coming in, the sky’s the limit. It’s what you want to make of it and how much you want to put into it,” he said.
“You don’t have to change companies [when you work for Hormel Foods]. You can get the experience of several companies right here.”