Every month, Jobboom profiles an employer that is a leader in their industry to shed some light on the business cultures, staffing needs and recruitment methods of top organizations. This month we look at Vegpro International.
Since the company was founded in 1998, Vegpro International has grown to become Canada’s largest producer of fresh vegetables. Specializing in the production and preparation of premium lettuce, much of which is sold under the well-known Fresh Attitude brand, Vegpro operates plantations in Quebec and Florida and also works closely with a network of partner farms in Quebec.
We met with Emmanuelle Ostiguy, talent acquisition and management counselor for Vegpro International.
JOBBOOM What kind of jobs are available at Vegpro?
Emmanuelle Ostiguy At our headquarters in Sherrington, in the Monteregie region, we employ 45 people in administrative roles including accounting, sales, human resources and others.
For our needs in production, we operate a product washing and packaging facility called Salade Etcetera! that employs around 500 people, also located in Sherrington. As well, our shipping and receiving facility employs another 50 or so individuals. Primarily, we hire day labourers, quality control specialists, experts in sanitation, electro-mechanic technicians, machine operators, forklift operators, engineers and managers to staff these facilities.
We also have a co-operative agriculture division, called Vert Nature, where we grow our vegetables. Around 200 agricultural workers spend six months of the year taking care of our fields here in Quebec, while the rest of the year they work at our fields in Florida.
JOBBOOM What positions do you need to fill most frequently?
E.O. On the factory side, we are always looking for people to help maintain the cleanliness of our facilities, as well as machine operators, forklift drivers and electro-mechanic specialists. Certain positions, like those for fixed-machinery operators, require particular qualifications and as such individuals qualified for these jobs are in high demand. For applicants to any of these positions, experience in the food production and packaging industry isn’t a prerequisite but it is certainly an asset, considering that there are many industry norms to learn and apply while working here.
JOBBOOM What are some of the qualities that you look for in your employees?
E.O. We emphasize the importance of several values at Vegpro: autonomy, humility, responsibility, team spirit and integrity are all very important to us. These values are sought after and encouraged not only during recruitment, but are an integral part of operations in all areas of the company. Accordingly, these are qualities that we look for in all of our employees.
Out of all these values, I would say that responsibility is the single most important for our employees to demonstrate because we work in an industry that is tightly regulated to ensure security and product quality. Ultimately, each one of us is responsible for each action we take every day.
JOBBOOM In your opinion, what attracts potential employees to Vegpro?
E.O. I would say that applicants are attracted to the fact that we are a Quebec-based company, but also that we are growing rapidly. Since Vegpro’s founding in 1998 we’ve grown by 20 to 30 percent every year. As a result of this growth there are many opportunities for employees to grow within the company.
Besides these factors, we offer very agreeable working conditions. One service we provide to be as accommodating as possible to our employees is a shuttle service to and from Montreal, Longueuil and Brossard; this makes their commute much easier.
Despite the size of the company, we also maintain a very familial atmosphere. Teamwork and collaboration are a big part of day-to-day life at Vegpro.
JOBBOOM What kind of career opportunities are available at Vegpro?
E.O. There are several paths for advancement available to our employees. We always offer open positions internally before seeking out external candidates, to ensure that employees who want to progress with the company have the opportunity. One employee who comes to mind started with us working in sanitation, and then, thanks to their education, moved up to a project management position in the engineering department. Many of our employees have also been with us since the company was founded.
We also make sure to support the career development goals of our employees by offering training opportunities, coaching and regular performance evaluations.
JOBBOOM What are the main sources of pride for Vegpro employees?
E.O. Working in the foodservice industry imbues our employees with the pride of knowing that they are providing an essential service, namely keeping people well-fed. Because we produce ready-to-eat vegetable preparations, we also contribute to smart and healthy eating while promoting a healthy lifestyle in general.
Each week, we provide our employees with packages of salad, allowing them to enjoy the product that they had a hand in creating and supporting their health at the same time!
JOBBOOM How would you describe the working environment at Vegpro?
E.O. There is a very strong sense of family at the company. Part of this is because several family members of our founder, Gerry Van Winden, including his brothers and his children, work for Vegpro! All of the employees here are close and we often work together as a team. Everyone who works here is part of the family.
Every year we organize a Christmas party and a barbeque where all employees are invited to attend. Even though our manufacturing facilities are normally operational 24 hours a day, during these events production is stopped to allow everyone to come out for a good time.
Company name: Vegpro International
Headquarters: Sherrington, QC
No. of employees: 900