From Retail to Finishing Supervisor, Ashley Allen Found A Passion For Pigs

posted on Friday, October 4, 2019


With a growing family and need for a career with more flexibility, Ashley Allen realized her job in retail was not a good long-term fit. After eight years with a store she loved, she made the difficult decision to start looking for another opportunity.

“Working in retail with three little ones and being married to a farmer who also owns a trucking company was, well, hectic,” laughed Ashley. “The fall was especially difficult on our family because I was working longer, holiday hours and weekends while my husband was in the field. Somehow, we made it work, but I knew it wasn’t sustainable.”

While looking for job opportunities, Ashley remembered her friend and former co-worker had gone to work at Iowa Select Farms. Growing up on a family farm near Boxholm, Ashley was no stranger to hard work and decided to give our human resources team a call.

“I remember Ashley talking about needing more flexibility but still wanting a role with leadership opportunities,” recalled HR Manager, Dana Spree. “I mentioned that we had a finishing supervisor position available in the area and encouraged her to apply.”

At Iowa Select Farms, finishing supervisors are responsible for supporting grow-finish managers to provide the best animal and farm care possible.

“I looked through the job description and thought I was in over my head, but figured it was worth a shot,” recalled Ashley. “I prayed about it, talked with my husband and family and then finally decided to apply.”


Although she didn’t have much prior experience working with pigs, Dana and the finishing team knew Ashley would be a great fit.

“We get a lot of people that have limited pig experience and that’s okay,” said director of grow-finish, Allen Whiley. “Those are all things that we can teach. We look for individuals with strong leadership qualities that can communicate well and lead by example.”

Shortly after being hired, Ashley started riding along with other finishing supervisors to learn the ins and outs of the job. Between setting up ventilation, identifying and treating sick animals, addressing alarm calls, marketing pigs and establishing routines when at a farm, Ashley jokes that she learned, “all the things.”

Fellow finishing supervisor, Maria Maguire, saw a lot of potential in Ashley and naturally, put her right to work.

“There’s no better way to learn than to jump right in, so that’s exactly what I had Ashley do,” Maria laughed. “People gave me a hard time for giving her so much responsibility in her first few weeks as a supervisor, but she’s done great. Ashley excels at communication which I know managers really appreciate."

In the past six months, Ashley has learned a lot and is starting to feel comfortable in her new role. Currently, she works closely with four managers and their seventeen farms. While she’s still learning that caring for pigs is only half of the job and that it doesn’t always stop when she gets home, she and her husband are adjusting to their new normal—more time together with their three children, Abby, Mack and Doss.

“The people I’ve worked with have made this such a great transition,” said Ashley. “It could have been really tough, but all of the supervisors have been extremely helpful, kind and understanding. Getting to work in agriculture again is just the cherry on top.”