Reaching Our Billion Plus Goals: Craig Whalen

posted on Monday, March 5, 2018

“When we learned about the #BillionPlus company-wide goal, I started thinking of the many ways my team and I could help produce more than a billion pounds of pork,” said Crag Whalen, Manager at Saratoga GDU in Lime Springs, Iowa. “I started with getting our farm’s production numbers, having conference calls and making site visits. Everything seemed to be going pretty good, but there was still something was missing.”

After digging deeper to get to the root of the problem, Whalen found that the missing piece was “total teamwork”.

“Ideas and changes weren’t being communicated to everyone on our team,” explained Whalen. “I realized that no matter how small of a change was being made, it needed to addressed with every single person at the farm.”

Once Whalen realized what needed to be done to improve teamwork, he focused on listening to everyone’s ideas, communicating them with the group and then discussing as a team what would or wouldn’t work.

“If something wasn’t going to work,” continued Whalen, “we would work together to find a solution. We were open, clear and honest with each other, and that made a huge difference.”

In addition to improving communication and getting everyone on the same page, Whalen and his team focused on replacing the word “I” with “we”.

“As more people started using the word ‘we,' we became more of a team and our successes became more apparent,” he explained. “Instead of singling out one person who made a mistake, everyone was accountable for our production numbers and outcomes. Everyone on the team was engaged and focused on reaching the same goals.”

In the past year Whalen and his team successfully accomplished the goals of the Saratoga breeding project. Together, they bred 425 animals per week for several months – a huge task to ensure that the nearby Elmand Sow Farm would be in full-production with bred animals by the time the farm opened in late December.

“When we started this project in October we weren’t quite sure what to expect since our new breed targets were much, much higher than we were used to,” said Linda Schumann, a long-time GDU Manager and one of Whalen’s teammates. “But we worked together as a team, hit our goals and most importantly, had a lot of fun along the way!”

“This has been a tremendous year of growth for us,” said Whalen. “Not just as a company, but for me and my team personally. We’ve learned that leadership is all about treating others how you want to be treated. You have to be honest and open and encourage others to keep the teamwork alive!”

A huge thanks to all of the members of the Saratoga Breeding Project for all of their hard work! Fridha Murillo, David Hernann, Pedro Gutierrrez, Nicholas Pickar, Saul Alcala, Raul Gonzalez, Elsy Rosales, Linda Schumann, Amanda Tix, Miguel Banuelos, Adriana Diaz, Benjamin Cano and Samuel Alcala.