Meat+Poultry - August 2018 - 26


"These are the
folks I grew
up with. They
put me in
this position.
They are my

Illinois. The company also operates beef plants
in Amarillo, Texas, Pasco, Washington, and
Lexington, Nebraska, which previously were
also overseen by Rupp, so he's no stranger to
those operations, but also doesn't miss the
responsibility of the additional facilities.
During plant visits, Rupp makes it a point to
sit in on management meetings, where he gets
a sense of what is being worked on at a given
facility, "and see if they are only reacting or if
they are being proactive; obviously I like to see
the proactive efforts."
And he always spends plenty of time on
the harvest and processing floor, watching
and listening.
"That's how you keep your finger on the
pulse and that's definitely how you know if
you're getting your point across."
One lesson he learned early is that only
talking to managers during plant visits just tells
part of the story. "I've developed very close
relationships with the team members out on the
floor and they're never afraid to tell me what's

really going on." He says input from workers on
the front line of the operation is valuable due to
the many hours they spend doing the work that
counts. "They're the experts," he says.
Recently, while visiting the Finney County
plant alongside one of the plant managers, the
manager said that walking the production floor
with Rupp was like walking with the mayor, due
to all the production workers stopping to shake
his hand. "I said, 'no that's not it at all.' These
are the folks I grew up with. They put me in this
position; they are my family and most of them in
Finney County I've known for 30-plus years."
The formal job description for an
operations manager doesn't include some of
the most important roles, Rupp says. "In this
business there are many times you become
peoples' marriage counselor, their priest;
sometimes you've got to help them through a
lot of tough times.
"These folks are my family. I've been
around them so much, it's like walking into a
family reunion every time I go to a plant."


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