“There is no area of the Progressive Processing plant that hasn’t been improved by Brad Nesteby,” says Plant Manager Kari Pollak, explaining in a nutshell why the plant engineering technician was tapped to receive the location’s first Pride of the Jersey award of 2018.
“He’s driving operational excellence in the plant by putting processes in place to develop long-term solutions, he works well with internal and external customers to find solutions, and his positive attitude makes his interactions with other areas constructive,” she said during the 2018 Hormel Foods road show at the location, where Brad was recognized with the signature jersey.
He was caught off guard, to say the least.
“I went to the road show just to hear the new things that are coming up,” Brad says.
He was intrigued by the jersey’s fresh look – emerald green instead of the red of 2017 – but never believed it would be his to wear.
The realization came as a shock to Brad. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is too much. I’m just doing my job.’”
Joining Progressive Processing
Brad joined Progressive Processing in 2011. Born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, he was working as an electrician through the local union. When work slowed down, Brad decided to put his application in at Progressive Processing.
He began on the night shift. Two years ago, he was promoted to his current position. He likes to describe simply and succinctly his job of keeping the machinery running in tip-top shape.
“I like making things better and improving things to the point that they just run,” he says. “I want to come here and have people hit start. If I don’t get a call, it’s a good day.”
Which is not to say Brad is left without work when his phone isn’t ringing.
For example, he recently succeeded in reducing overages in SPAMÒ Singles packages by working with the equipment manufacturer on optimal settings and with Progressive Processing’s quality control function to make the adjustments. The project garnered $130,000 in annual savings and recognition companywide, Kari says.
Outside of Work
And there’s more. In addition to assuming a new role at work, Brad recently took on added responsibilities at home. He and his wife, Carrie, are the parents of twins Ryker and Teagan, born in December 2016.
Carrie wasn’t due until March, Brad recounts, but she went into heart failure, and the babies had to be delivered by an emergency cesarean section. Carrie and the twins were hospitalized in Iowa City for three months. The outpouring of concern from co-workers was tremendous, he says. “I don’t know if I would have had this much support anywhere else.”
For instance, employees at Progressive Processing came together and hosted a fundraiser for the Nestebys. The money helped Brad take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act, which allowed him to take unpaid leave from work while Carrie and the twins were recovering.
“It was tough financially, but we made it work,” he says.
Everyone is healthy now, Brad says. The twins, less than 3 pounds at birth, are now 25 pounds and thriving. Their personalities are shining through, too. Son Ryker is rough and tumble; Teagan likes to sit and look at her books. Perhaps she takes after Brad, who describes himself as one who likes to “keep to himself and do his own thing.”
That said, he managed to enjoy a little bit of limelight in early 2018.
“I loved accepting the jersey,” he says. “It’s nice to know that you’re appreciated.”