Jamie Chaplin Celebrates 20 Years with Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Jamie Chaplin for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms!
As manager of the company’s largest GDU, it may surprise you that Jamie didn’t come to Iowa Select Farms with much experience in pork production. Like many, his career started as an entry-level animal caretaker at Kielsmeier Sow 12.
“My cousin, Shawn, worked for the company at the time and I remember he said the hours were good, with minimal weekend work and an enjoyable work atmosphere,” said Jamie. “I would say that has remained pretty true all these years.”
Jamie learned that working alongside family and having a job that starts, and finishes, early has its perks. Like going fishing or golfing nearly every day after work. Several other of his fond memories are from his time at Sow 12, like the one time he and a few other employees got stuck at the farm in a blizzard.
“We still had sows farrowing so several of us made the decision to stay,” he said. “Shawn ended up bringing in a TV and we played video games all night. There was an Olympics game that was basically just hitting a button really fast. By the end of the night, we were playing with socks on our hands because our fingers were getting so raw. It was a blast.”
Jamie spent a total of seven years at Sow 12, several of which he worked as the farm’s breeding department head. In 2007, he transferred to McDonald GDU outside of New Providence. He’s remained on the GDU side since then, but not at the same farm. In addition to McDonald, Jamie has worked at Gast (a GDU at the time), Greenfield 4, ISO Pork and Marton/Hunt. Two of his moves were to work on company breeding projects.
“The breeding projects were a new adventure for all of us,” he recalled. “Our targets were significantly increased, so the number of employees also went up. That was the biggest learning opportunity for me—training so many new people on breeding techniques, heat checking, animal health and everything else that goes into the daily upkeep of a farm.”
Although he was used to working relatively independently, Jamie appreciated the opportunity to work on the breeding projects. “It was different and we worked a lot of hours,” he said. “But when you took a chance to sit down and realize what we were doing, it was kind of awesome. We were the stepping stones to get our new sow farms up and running.”
Once the breeding project ended at Marton/Hunt, Jamie remained at the farm as manager. Today, his crew consists of seven others and they breed anywhere from 190 to 225 gilts per week. Jamie is very grateful for his tenured team.
“We’ve got a real sense of camaraderie at our farm which is awesome," he said. "If you don't enjoy your job and the people you work with, it’s not worth it. I don’t care what line of work you’re in—you have to enjoy it.”
Outside of work, Jamie enjoys spending time with his wife Shelly, their six children and six grandchildren. They keep busy fishing, golfing, camping, having bonfires, grilling out and playing yard games. Every year he and a few family members take a fishing trip to Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. He’s still hopeful about this year’s trip.
“Although things have changed over the years, they’ve also gotten a lot more efficient,” he said. “Our mamas are producing more piggies, our farms are more advanced than ever and we’ve found ways to improve herd health. I think it’s a real good thing.”
As far as the future is concerned, Jamie is just like the rest of us and anxious to get back to “normal” spending time with friends, family and visiting the local watering establishment a time, or two. He’s also looking forward to many more years with Iowa Select Farms.
“I’m proud to go to work every day and help feed the world,” he said. “People rely on us to put a good, quality product on their table. It starts with us and there’s a big sense of pride in that.”