Culture of respect creates thriving international workforce

Feb. 12, 2018

This piece is presented by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

A job that began when Pedro Basilio was 21 has grown into a career eight years later. After he started on the production team at Grand Prairie Foods, owners Kurt and Valerie Loudenback saw potential in him to become a leader.

He progressed to a team lead and now is the first-shift supervisor, managing about 50 people.

“They’re willing to train and help you grow in the business,” Basilio said.

Basilio, who was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. at age 2, said he never expected to be a manager and credits the Loudenbacks for giving him a chance.

“They’re good, understanding people,” he said. “They’ve taught me how to deal with people, how to find solutions and coach others to be better at what they are doing.”

That approach has allowed Grand Prairie Foods to grow from 15 to 150 employees in 15 years, with a staff of whom almost all were born outside the U.S.

The company provides food products to customers nationwide and specializes in serving hotels and convention centers. Grand Prairie enjoys nearly zero turnover thanks to taking an intense interest in its employees and their lives.

“We’ve worked hard at making people feel welcome,” Kurt Loundenback said. “To us, language, color of skin, race, religion doesn’t matter. We’re all the same. And we treat people like that.”

Here’s more on Grand Prairie’s recipe for recruitment and retention success:

  • “It sounds simplistic, but we make it a nice place to work.”
  • A culture of respect creates a welcoming atmosphere.
  • When hiring managers, ensure they fit the culture you’re trying to foster.
  • Pay matters. Employees are fairly compensated and receive bonuses when the company meets its goals.
  • Be flexible. Some employees leave for life events but return because they are welcomed back.
  • Ensure employees know about and are using their benefits. Grand Prairie has helped one-on-one with dental care and smoking cessation.
  • Small rewards go a long way. Employees can earn candy and other small items after going above and beyond in small ways.
  • Leadership has an open door. Any employee can meet directly with the owners.

Culture of respect creates thriving international workforce

Grand Prairie Foods has grown from 15 to 150 employees in 15 years, with a staff of whom almost all were born outside the U.S.

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