As a former employee of Hickory Farms, I found Robert Ransom’s perspective on the recent comments made by current CEO Diane Pearse very interesting (March 12, “Hickory Farms’ Ransom was a true leader”).
Although my tenure at the company was after Richard Ransom had left, I had the good fortune of working with several employees who were hired by him.
Many did not have college degrees. But, their knowledge and experience was invaluable to Hickory Farms. They were the most dedicated and hardest-working people at the company. And they all spoke very fondly of their time working with Richard.
Ms. Pearse is correct in saying that the only way to attract top talent to Hickory Farms is to move to Chicago. But, it’s not location that keeps talented people from working at Hickory Farms. It’s the company's reputation as a less-than-desirable place to work in Toledo.
I worked at the company for several years, starting in the late 1990s. At that time, there was a very toxic company culture that was fostered by many in upper management, the majority of whom were not from Toledo. It was all about the bottom line.
Front-line employees were not treated with respect, nor did management show any appreciation for their contributions to the success of the company.
It all made for a very stressful and demeaning work environment. In fact, the disconnect was so bad in one department that the employees referred to their department head as Satan. Given the company’s fortunes since then, I doubt much has improved.
It is very sad to see another Toledo-born company leave town. However, I truly hope it gives Hickory Farms the fresh start it deserves to ensure Richard Ransom’s legacy lives on.
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