Our Culture: Pride
We take pride in all we do and represent
When we speak of pride we refer to our quality – quality in our packaging, our customer service, our responsiveness to stakeholder needs, and all our team and individual accomplishments. It is our collective objective to meet or exceed expectations of our stakeholders in all that we do.
We’re Serious About Quality Excellence
You know that we are serious about maintaining the quality of our product. You know, too, that we expect this commitment to be universal among all members of the Sargento family. There are no exceptions.
Someone once said, “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.” We like to think that everyone at Sargento is proud to autograph his or her work with excellence. That’s in keeping with our company’s Quality Statement that says, “Quality excellence is achieved when the product we provide meets the requirements of our customer and the service we provide exceeds the expectations of our customer.”
We Are All Responsible for Quality – All of Us
A key element of the Sargento Quality Excellence Process is the empowerment of all employees to be responsible for the quality. Repeat: All employees.
Our commitment to excellence is the common thread that runs through every facet of our business – every operation – not only at the plant level where our products are manufactured, but throughout the company – at every level. It is the foundation of our very being as a corporation.
So that all employees have the power to do something about the problems they confront, we have formed employee teams. The teams are empowered to look at our jobs, systems, and processes and seek to find new and better ways to do these jobs that will improve the quality and service we provide our customers.
The Benefits of Ownership
Throughout the company’s history, we have encouraged everyone in the Sargento family to feel a sense of ownership in the company. We do this for several reasons. A sense of ownership builds an increased sense of pride and responsibility, which will ultimately be reflected in the quality of our work and our products.
Just as important, a sense of ownership creates a feeling of satisfaction, of belonging, of making a difference. Taking ownership of a project means caring about its success. Ultimately, this improves the quality of your work, which gives you a stronger sense of satisfaction. Clearly, our employees and our company benefit when we share a sense of ownership.
Ownership requires an unfailing sense of responsibility – and we commend all of our employees who adopt this attitude. These employees take their jobs personally. These employees believe that everything they do matters – every step of the way. These employees consider themselves owners of the research report they just finished, the product they just introduced, or the package they just brought down the line. As a result, their work is better – all of the time.
People with a sense of ownership care. Consider how you take care of your home or your car or other treasured belongings. You show your caring in any number of different ways, such as painting the house, mowing the lawn, washing and waxing your car. At Sargento, we expect you to take care of the company’s assets as if they were your own. That includes spending your business budget as if it were your personal budget, and caring for our equipment and other property as if they belonged to you, too. Because in a very real sense, they do. You receive profifit sharing and return on average capital employed bonuses based on how we collectively care for Sargento assets.
Achievement, whether great or small, is worthy of celebration
In today’s hectic environment, all of us have a hard time achieving a consistent balance. As a result, it’s common for us to feel as if we’re not doing a good job in one (or several) areas of our lives. This creates an environment where recognition becomes even more important. People who are recognized for doing a good job are more likely to continue their superior performance. Conversely, if people who demonstrate extra effort are not recognized, they may feel that it doesn’t matter, that no one cares.
There are many ways to recognize an individual. For many years, we’ve been awarding bonuses to recognize employees’ efforts in achieving individual objectives. Other Sargento initiatives to recognize employees include “praise” cards and service awards dinners.
Recognition encourages people. It provides important motivation and lets you know your efforts are appreciated. At Sargento, recognition is a very important part of our culture.
Sargento believes that our community is not narrowly defined by our residences and encourages every employee to return time, talent, and treasury to the local community and the broader remote communities. The company is also financially supportive of many community-based causes.
Our company’s founder, Leonard A. Gentine, was a firm believer in helping others. He was highly active in both the church and the community, and consistently demonstrated his love and concern for others.
No matter how busy he was with his company and his family, Leonard always made time to give back to his community.
Today, Sargento carries on the traditions of community outreach that Leonard held so dear. It is a tradition we vow never to change. It is an integral part of our management philosophy – what we call our stakeholder philosophy. Sargento makes business decisions considering not only stockholders, but all stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, and community.
It All Begins with Fair Compensation
Sargento has long operated under a philosophy that if you treat employees with dignity, honesty, and respect, they will respond in kind - not only with a full day’s work but also with additional initiative and creativity. Management recognizes that not only is this the fair way to treat employees, but also makes good business sense. Employees who are happy and content can be expected to treat customers in a like fashion and to represent the company well in the community.
Of course, employee happiness and contentment start with Fair Compensation. Sargento annually conducts salary surveys of other companies to be sure that its compensation package for both hourly and salaried employees is as good as or better than the going rate. This has consistently been the case. In comparison with other cheese packagers as well as food companies generally, both local and statewide, Sargento ranks in the upper echelon in terms of compensation.
The total benefit package at Sargento also far exceeds the norm for our industry. Our profit sharing and retirement plans have few equals when you consider that maximum retirement plan contributions can reach 18 percent of an employee’s salary, with “Companies must view employees as an investment, not a cost, and get their people programs in sync with their strategic business priorities.” From a study by Towers Perrin, management consultants 12 percent of that amount being provided by the company. Meeting our financial goals also has resulted in generous bonus payments for Sargento employees.
While employee happiness and contentment may start with Fair Compensation, it doesn’t end there. Recognition for years of service, the Christmas party, company picnic, and other such events are means of producing better employee environment.