We're always looking for good people, people who want to learn and do better.
— Ron Rowan, Beef Northwest
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It's morning in Boardman, Ore., and Brenda Drennon is saddling up for a day of riding pens.
For Drennon, the opportunity to work for Beef Northwest represented a lifelong dream to care for livestock –-and to work for a company that's every bit as focused on her and her well being as it is on producing high-quality beef.
"Beef Northwest cares how things are going," she says. "They want to know how your day went or how your week is going. It boils down to that. They’re just caring people."
Drennon is one of many on the Beef Northwest team who loves her job – and the collective team’s love for its job has resonated across the company since it began nearly 25 years ago.
"We take a genuine interest in our people," says Kirk Jacobson, director of Human Resources for the company. "If we have an employee with a personal issue or family problem, that's something we want to help them get through, because if everything is good at home, things are going to be good at work."
The company also offers a competitive benefits and compensation package as well as incentive programs. This has helped with employee retention and attract good people into its ranks.
"One thing that's really unique about Beef Northwest is that we're big enough that we have competitive pay and benefits, but we're small enough that we know all of our employees," explains Jacobson.
A big part of Beef Northwest's success is recognizing the talents of each individual person on the team - and investing in the development of skills and expertise through training and educational programs. The company also focuses on mentoring its newer employees, helping them to learn from their more experienced team members.
For instance, Ben Velasquez, who now manages the Beef Northwest feedyard near Quincy, Wash., started out nearly 20 years ago in the feedmill and worked his way up into top-tier management.
"They recognize the potential of the employee," says Velasquez. "They want people to do better, to learn and excel."
This experience is shared by Jesse Melendez Jr., who's now the feed manager for the Nyssa feedyard.
"I started out washing water tanks and bucking hay," Melendez recalls. "Throughout the day I'd just slowly get educated in the feedlot industry and worked my way up. That's what Beef Northwest has done for me."
Nick Deleon, who supervises animal health and cattle, attended the Dale Carnegie leadership program, something that's given him "the ability to communicate more clearly to others on my team," he says. "I don't know of another feedyard that would make this kind of commitment to its people."
Adds Laura Grazier, who serves as a cattle analyst at the Boardman, Ore., feedyard: "The opportunity that they provide you to progress and grow within the company is very large."
A key component to employee development and compensation is goal setting, something all employees do each year.
"They give us different goals and help us cross-train and learn other people's jobs in the organization so we understand more fully what all is happening," says Michael Jeffrey from the Boardman Office.
Oftentimes, "you get bonuses based off of those goals. So if you complete them and learn from them, that's the biggest part," adds Misty McClay from the Nyssa Office.
Ron Rowan, who heads up the company’s customer development and grain procurement program, puts it this way:
"We're always looking for good people, people who want to learn and do better," he says. "Beef Northwest is a unique company, because it focuses on people, and because of its focus on people, we've been successful in the cattle feeding business for many years."