Customer Tour Team is Honored with SelectCare Exellence Award

posted on Monday, October 24, 2022

Smiling Visitor with piglet
What’s so remarkable about these farm teams is how they step up to serve and represent their fellow employees, our company and this industry, and they do it with professionalism and grace,” said Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms.

This quarter’s SelectCare Excellence honorees are the teams at Last Chance Sow Farm, Sandy Hill Sow Farm and Stockdale Sow Farm, along with members of the production leadership team, health services, communication and sustainability teams. Collectively referred to as—the customer tour team.

“This collaborative group is responsible for organizing farm tours as part of our commitment to provide customers and food companies with a first-hand look at how we care for our animals and produce a quality and safe product,” said Sorenson. “It’s an honor to be entrusted with this opportunity.”

The tour program began over 25 years ago at Stockdale Sow Farm, a farm a few miles from Ackley. The farm was identical to the other sow farms built at the time, except for three small guest showers, an extra bathroom and a conference room to host meetings and give presentations.

“On that farm in the middle of a corn field, we welcomed hundreds of customer teams across the US and internationally,” said Sorenson. “They wanted to see how pigs are raised, and we welcomed them. During these experiences, they could see caretakers in action and interact with them and ask questions. The idea is simple but so impactful.”

“We have hosted many people who have never been on a farm but have critical roles in purchasing pork for grocery chains, restaurants, food service and distributors who ultimately provide pork to millions of consumers,” said Erica. “We appreciate their role in the food chain and try to connect with them and share our part as best we can.”

More recently, as other farms were built, a few more were made tour-accessible to show different types of sow housing and allow Stockdale to be remodeled. Last Chance sow farm was built with guest showers, extra bathrooms and a conference room and the team there has been hosting tours for four years. Sandy Hill joined the line-up a year later. And while Stockdale was officially retired as a tour farm earlier this year, the farm still shines as a training farm and remains in full production.

And with tour groups come additional chores, like power washing, cleaning boots, scrubbing showers and many extra loads of scrubs and towels.

“These farm teams are remarkable and put in extra effort and hours to ensure the best on-farm experience for our customer,” said Cassandra Jass, DVM and director of production well-being. “We can’t thank them enough for the time and attention they give to make the tours a success.”

How do our guests feel about the tours? “Survey scores and comments give our team high marks for their knowledge, expertise and the overall tour experience,” said Erica Lain, sustainability manager and tour coordinator.

Visitors are invited to get their photo taken holding a newborn piglet and one soon to be weaned, which gives them a chance to see how fast piglets grow in just a few short weeks.

Special thanks to managers Doug Bates, Lance Lawrence and former manager (now supervisor) Max Klepper, Chief Operating Officer Noel Williams and veterinarians Dr. Cassandra Jass, Dr. T’Lee Girard, and Dr. Katie Coleman for their significant role in explaining the way we care for our animals while guiding the groups through farrowing, breeding and gestation areas of the farm. Also, to Erica Lain for coordinating the more recent tours and championing all our sustainability pillars—animal, people, environment and community care— throughout the tours.

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