Juan Duque Receives Select Care Excellence Award
“There’s so many words that come to mind when I think about Juan, but I think my favorite would be superhero,” said Allie Delker, manager of Stumme Sow 3. “No matter how difficult or unfavorable the situation, he always steps up to help out. Whether it’s at work or in his community, he’s always helping people out.”
Congratulations to Juan Duque for receiving the second ever Select Care Excellence Award. Established during Q1 of this year, the Award recognizes outstanding employees for going above and beyond in the areas of people care, animal care, environmental and farm care and community care. Juan was nominated by several employees and selected by a panel of Iowa Select Farms senior leadership.
“Juan is known for coming in early, staying late and working extra weekends to help anyone on the farm that might need it,” said Chris Nydegger, the farm’s supervisor. “He leads by example. Even when there are other strong leaders on the farm, they look to Juan guidance.”
Since starting his career in 1996, Juan has worked at several farms, but always stayed on the sow side of things, usually in farrowing. His career has taken him to Sow 2, Sow 6, Sow 10, Sow 5 and Sow 3. No matter the farm, Juan says the people and leadership were great, but we’re starting to think it also has something to do with him.
In fact, this isn’t Juan’s first time receiving an award. Many years ago, he worked at a farm that received the “Top Gun” award. Similar to SelectPride, the award recognized top farms for production achievements. Winning the Top Gun award was very special for Juan, and it’s not uncommon to spot him wearing his Iowa Select Farms’ Top Gun hat on the daily. Although it looks slightly different after 15 years of wear and tear, the meaning is still the same.
“I wear the hat because it brings back good memories and because I take pride in working for Iowa Select Farms,” said Juan. “The company has always treated me very well and I enjoy my job every single day.”
Over the years, Juan has made a lot of memories. Like the time he and fellow co-worker, Tracey McPherson, got to farm for Saturday morning chores and found a river flowing over the driveway, a hole in the wall, a busted water line and a sow sleeping in the laundry room—and that was all before 7AM.
“Needless to say, we lock the door to the farm office nowadays,” Juan chuckled. “But that was just one of those times where we looked at each other and decided, ‘Well, we better get to work.’”
Tracey is now the farrowing department head at Sow 3 and remembers that day well, especially since she was a new employee when it happened. The two have become great friends since and work alongside each other every day in the farrowing department.
“Juan is more like family to me than a coworker,” said Tracey, as her eyes filled with tears. “He is like a brother. We’ve worked together almost every weekend for seven years. We’re really close and I appreciate him more than he knows.”
It’s not just his farm team that speaks highly of Juan—it’s everyone that knows him.
His daughter, Sunashi, who also works at Sow 3, says her Dad has always been a hard worker and admires that about him. Prior to working at Iowa Select farms, Juan worked on a farm in Mexico for 16 years.
Outside of work, Juan continues to demonstrate Select Care excellence. Every year during the company meat giveaway, Juan purchases 12 additional pork loins and even asks others to submit requests for pork loins that he pays them for. He then prepares the pork loins for a community cookout in Dows and then gives extra pork loins to families in need.
“I had always heard good things about this ‘guy named Juan’ prior to working with him,” recalled Allie. “And now I understand why. He is truly the kindest, most selfless and giving person. I know this crew, and many other people, love him dearly.”
Congratulations on your Select Care Excellence award, Juan! We are so proud to have you on our team.