Meat+Poultry - August 2018 - 22
Expanding the cutting
floor at the Dakota City
facility to 140,000 sq. ft.
is one of the crowning
achievements made by
Rupp and his team in 2006.
Like many industry veterans who've worked
their way up the ranks, Rupp benefited from
the insight and influence of others who took the
time to share their knowledge and experience.
Jerry Karczewski is a name Rupp readily
offers as one of those people who had a
profound influence on him. Among other
things, Rupp remembers Karczewski as the
first person to hire him as a supervisor and
later Rupp worked under him as a general
foreman. "He always had those words of
wisdom," Rupp says. "He did it right when
doing it right wasn't cool," he says, touching a
lot of lives in his career. "I honestly have more
respect for that man than any five," he says.
That admiration is mutual, according to
Karczewski, who worked at IBP for years and
ultimately retired as an operations executive at
Cargill. The two crossed paths when Rupp was
an hourly worker in the early 1980s.
"Chris was a local guy who was pulling
paddle bones on one of the chuck tables,"
Karczewski recalls, adding that Rupp was a
hard worker whose leadership qualities made
him stand out. He wasn't surprised when he
soon became a production supervisor. "He was
a hard driver in pursuit of goals assigned to
him. He had a good ability to organize groups
of people in the most efficient way to get a
task done, and commanded respect from the
people that worked for him, as well as his
supervisory peers," says Karczewski, who left
IBP in 1994, after Rupp had been promoted to
MEAT+ POULTRY | 08.18 | www.meatpoultry.com
LEADING THE WAY
Rupp doesn't hesitate when describing his
leadership style. "Firm, fair and consistent,"
he says. "Over my career I've been tough on
people, but I'm fair and I think I'm pretty
consistent with how I hand that out.
"I'm an old school guy, but it brings me
back to the values I grew up with. At the end of
general foreman. He wasn't surprised to see
him advance in the years to come, given his
skills. "He also demonstrated a proclivity for
innovative thinking; he was very good at looking
at plant production setups and coming up with
creative ways to make a layout better and more
efficient. I always thought he had a little bit of
the engineer in his heart," Karczewski says. "I
have followed his moves to Dakota City and
Dakota Dunes, and I'm not a bit surprised he's
achieved the level of success he has."
More recently, Rupp says people he's
worked for, like Tyson veterans, Steve
Stouffer, Leo Lang, Dan Brooks and Chad
Martin, have all been positive influences in
his development and their impact has been
very beneficial. Paying it forward to the next
generation, Rupp has had the opportunity to
pass down his knowledge to up-and-comers in
the industry. For example, Tony Lang (Leo's
son) is working for Rupp as a successful
plant manager at the Finney County plant,
Paul VanWassenhove at the Joslin facility
and Jason Poole, who was hired right out of
college to work with Rupp and his team in
Finney County and went on to work as the
complex manager at the Dakota City plant.
While he moved into an office at the
corporate office in Dakota Dunes about six
years ago, Rupp still feels like his biggest
contribution is in the plants, teaching and
planning for the future one step at a time.
"I'm more at ease and happy when I get to the
plant," compared to the day-to-day routine at
the corporate office. A typical workday in his
current role is about 11 hours, a far cry from
when he was working in the plants every day
and logging closer to 14-plus hours each day.
He says the regimen of working in a corporate
role is a huge adjustment compared to the
decades he spent in operations, overseeing
six beef plants, including one of the country's
largest, which spans about 1.8 million sq. ft.
and employs upwards of 4,000 workers.