There is no such thing as an awkward first meeting with Linda Weis, one of those rare individuals who can make you feel like you’ve known her forever. She exudes a special brand of warmth, she laughs easily and she is more than happy to poke fun at herself. “I’m the dinosaur of the department,” she says.
Hardly a dinosaur but a long-serving employee nonetheless, Linda is a 39-year member of Hormel Foods, serving as a traffic coordinator for the western region of Jennie-O Turkey Store. That makes for some busy days for Linda, especially during the fall months when customers and consumers are getting ready for the holidays and clamoring for Jennie-O® products.
Despite the hectic pace, she was forced to slow down a bit recently so co-workers could recognize her with the Hormel Foods jersey, the outward sign of the Pride of the Jersey award. Linda was the first of the Jennie-O Turkey Store team members in Willmar, Minnesota, to receive the honor.
She could always be counted on to be here and to go the extra mile for the company, the department, a customer, a broker, a carrier, a driver — you name it.Jaimee Scoblic
Jaimee Scoblic, the assistant to the head of human resources at the company, once served as Linda’s supervisor. When she learned about the Pride of the Jersey campaign, she didn’t miss a beat. Linda came to mind immediately, she says.
“I had the privilege of being Linda’s supervisor for eight years. She could always be counted on to be here and to go the extra mile for the company, the department, a customer, a broker, a carrier, a driver — you name it.”
Linda doesn’t see herself as a star. In fact, when Operations Manager Mike Brown began introducing the location’s first Pride of the Jersey recipient but before he named her, Linda wondered who else had the same hire date as she.
“Linda challenges herself and truly shows that results matter,” he says.
Linda joined Jennie-O Turkey Store in August 1978, fresh out of school. She interviewed on a Thursday or Friday, she recalls, got the job on Monday and started on Wednesday. She has been part of the traffic department the entire time. Suffice it to say, she’s seen a lot of changes.
“We’ve gone from no computers to having to learn them to what we have now,” Linda says. However, the fundamental goal is the same. It’s all about getting the product where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. After almost 40 years, she still derives a great deal of satisfaction from that.
Outside of Work
Linda lives 25 miles from the company’s corporate office on a 700-acre corn and soybean farm that she and her husband, Doug, operate. Doug is there 24-7, and Linda lends a hand during evening hours and on weekends. During busy times, she takes vacation days to help more.
Though it doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, Linda loves the land. Farming is in their blood, she says. She grew up on a farm some 50 miles west of Willmar, and Doug’s family raised pigs on the land that now belongs to Linda and him. Even her free time is spent in nature. Linda enjoys gardening and tending to her animals. She used to have horses, but for now, it’s her cats that need attention.
You could say the Jennie-O Turkey Store is also in their blood. Doug’s mother cleaned the offices at the Willmar location. Linda knew her for at least five years before she met her son, Linda’s now husband.
Receiving the jersey was a special thrill for Linda, and she is grateful to those who made it possible.
“I have to chalk that up to having my supervisors, ex-supervisors and co-workers do that for me,” she says.
She wore the oversized jersey at work, had some pictures taken and even was tapped to throw out the first pitch at the Willmar Stingers game, a local minor league baseball team.
It just goes to prove what Linda has always said.
“If you enjoy what you’re doing, stay with it.”