Inside the Fishbowl with Steve Kuepker, General Manager of Toledo Plant Posted on 17 Aug 12:58
In August 2015, our state-of-the-art fish processing plant celebrated its 1 year anniversary, and the plant’s General Manager, Steve Kuepker, celebrated his 1 year anniversary, too. Steve, the person responsible for the facility's day-to-day operations, has been at the plant since Day One.
Steve has over 30 years of experience in the food production industry, including canning vegetables and making juice. In fact, Steve actually came out of retirement to manage the Toledo plant. Impressed with Fishpeople’s mission to make sustainable seafood more available and affordable, he put his days of leisure on hold. Needless to say, we’re pleased Steve grew bored of playing golf and taking cruises, and prefers to spend his days producing tasty, high-quality, seafood meals.
At Fishpeople, it’s not business as usual.
So once again, Steve finds himself donning a white lab coat, a hardhat and a hair net, and getting down to business. Although happily, Steve says it’s not “business as usual.” One of the things that Steve appreciates about Fishpeople is that the company is committed to trying new things. And Steve finds this exciting. According to Steve, “the management gives me the opportunity to figure things out using input from the employees.” Although this sounds pretty straightforward, it differs from past jobs he’s held in more traditional corporate environments, were things were much more top down.
In particular, Steve noticed that Fishpeople’s management is not only open to, but actively encourages, input from employees on the production floor. Many small, but significant improvements to the process have been made because of recommendations that came “from the floor.” According to Steve, “when people come on the floor they have a voice, it’s good for the employees, the company, and the product. You get a better end result, which ultimately is good for the customer, too. ”
From fish worker to Fishperson: an evolution.
Steve also finds it gratifying to watch the Toledo plant employees evolve into Fishpeople. At first, they are happy to have landed a job – particularly a job that is not seasonal (as are many jobs in the fishing industry), but a steady, full time job that pays a living wage plus benefits. It doesn’t take long, however, for the employees to understand Fishpeople’s mission, and the importance of bringing seafood to market in a sustainable way, and that they are playing a key role in making that happen.
So for now, Steve is happy – happy he put his hard-earned retirement on hold, happy he and his wife migrated from Florida to Toledo, Oregon, and happy his grand-kids are just a short road trip away in Seattle. The plant he helped start is on the right track, and is adding more employees, more shifts, and more cutting edge equipment. In short, the plant is doing well and keeping Steve and the Toledo crew very busy.