Robert Lavallee Celebrates 25 Years With Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Robert Lavalle for celebrating 25 years with Iowa Select Farms.
After moving to Iowa Falls in 1994 as a newly married, first-time Dad, Robert knew he needed a stable job to provide for his family. Some ladies at church encouraged him to apply at Iowa Select Farms.
“After my interview, human resources took me to a sow farm for a tour and then out to lunch,” said Robert, who couldn’t help but laugh because he knows the hiring process is much different these days due to biosecurity. “I had no prior experience working with pigs but I figured I’d give it a shot. It seemed like a family-friendly company.”
Robert’s career started at Nursery 1 learning how to place, sort and care for newly weaned pigs.
“On my first day the manager handed me a sort board and said, ‘Here, hold this.’ So I did, but I had no idea what I was doing,” chuckled Robert. “We didn’t have the training for new employees back then like we do today. It was mostly trial and error, but I finally picked up on things.”
The years that followed kept Robert in nurseries as he bounced between Kamrar Nursery (now a sow farm), Nursery 1, 20, 21 and 112. In his current role, he works with Chris Fields and Salvador Ortega at Nursery 7. He’s been there for six years.
“When you like the people you’re with it makes your job enjoyable,” said Robert. “Chris and Sal are great guys who have turned into lifelong friends.”
In addition to the people, Robert appreciates that his job provides a legitimate excuse for him to not go to the gym.
“I always joke with my wife that I don’t need to go to the gym because I do enough lifting at work,” he said. “I’m not sure she thinks that joke is funny anymore, but it’s true. We’re moving around all day, but that’s just another reason why I love my job. It’s nice to not sit behind a desk all day.”
When he’s not a work, Robert enjoys being outside, taking pictures, volunteering at church, going on mission trips and spending time with his wife, four daughters and five granddaughters. He’s got his fingers crossed for a grandson in the future.
“This company has provided for my family the past 25 years,” he said. “From the benefits and Adventureland to vacation, pork giveaways and scholarship program that is helping get my girls through college, the company does a lot of stuff for their employees that they don’t have to.”
Benefits have been especially important for Robert, who was diagnosed with Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CML) in 2010, a condition that he will have to treat for the rest of his life. Although his condition remains stable, it still requires several appointments and expensive medications.
“If it wasn’t for this company I’m not sure how I would have made it,” said Robert. “Whether it was someone covering my weekend at work or my supervisor understanding that I needed to come in 1-2 hours early to leave for an appointment, everyone was always so understanding. That coupled with the benefits have been a lifesaver for me and my family.”
Thanks for 25 years, Robert. We appreciate you and your dedication to Iowa Select Farms.