By Alan Miles
Working at Frontier is a good way to expand your social circle. It’s a friendly atmosphere, and most of the people you meet here have a network of family and friends. It makes each introduction a bit like being introduced to a village.
One reason for this is that a large number of the 350-plus full-time employees at our three Iowa locations — Norway, Urbana and North Liberty — come from the rural, small-town areas around our facilities. In some respects, many employees come almost literally from a village, as they’re members of small, farm-based communities who share schools, social events and family ties. So it’s natural that they know each other and have relations, friends and acquaintances in common.
But it’s as common for employees commuting from nearby cities to recommend working here to their family and friends as it is for those living down the road.
Onsite childcare keeps families together
We don’t have stats on exactly how many people were encouraged to apply by employees, but it’s very common to have new hires say they heard about Frontier from a friend who works here. In terms of family recommendations, almost 1 in 4 current Frontier employees has, or has had, an immediate family member working here. Many employees have come to work at Frontier as second-generation workers after attending Frontier Childcare when their parents worked here.
For example, Lana Beck, who now works in Sales, had three children when she started at Frontier. She was thrilled to find a place she liked to work that had affordable onsite childcare along with an overall family-friendly atmosphere. Later, her oldest daughter, Chris Miller, became a childcare worker here and brought her own daughter to Frontier Childcare. Lana enjoyed having lunch with them both and seeing her granddaughter on the playground from her office window.
Seventeen years ago, Karen Jordt, a purchaser, was commuting 30 miles to her job and paying a big chunk of what she made for childcare. When she heard about the subsidized onsite childcare at Frontier (which she could see from her house), she got a job here. Both of her little ones attended Childcare and eventually grew up to work at Frontier. For two years in high school, her daughter Emily worked in the same Childcare facility that she grew up in, and her son Nathan came to work at Frontier in Distribution in 2012. In 2013, Nathan’s infant son Sterling came to Childcare and was cared for by some of the same staff members who had watched Emily and Nathan when they were little. Rounding out the family tree is Kenny (Karen’s husband, Emily and Nathan’s dad, and Sterling’s “papa”). He started working at Frontier in Maintenance three years ago.
More than just parents in common
There are a lot of sibling connections at Frontier, too.
At one time, Vice President of Global Sourcing Cole Daily and his brother Ted, our production planning manager, were working here with their sister Deb and brother Calvin, setting the record for simultaneously employed siblings.
Lisa Miller, who works in Distribution, and her brother, Tom Havran, a writer, both work at Frontier, along with their cousin, 33-year employee and Vice President of Sustainability Kathy Larson. Kathy’s husband, Dave, worked here for many years. I worked with Dave when we were building the Norway warehouse in 1982. When we needed some grading done, we found a farmer just down the road who had a backhoe and would come as we needed him. It was Lisa and Tom’s dad, who we all called (and still call to this day) Uncle Dale.
The family you choose
Sometimes this village-like workplace can change your life. Take Lauren Gunderson, for example. Her father was Frontier’s logistics manager 12 years ago. He suggested Lauren get a job here, which she did, in Childcare. She later moved to Customer Service, where she met Purchaser Marilee Gunderson. Three years ago, Marilee introduced Lauren, now a content management specialist, to her son, Simon. Simon and Lauren got married last May. Marilee is also the sister-in-law of Linda Muench, who works in Production and is the mother of Charolette Grieder, our safety specialist.
You don’t get connections like we have at Frontier if you’re a “revolving door” employer. Part of our family atmosphere is due to our having so many “old-timers” — 71 current employees have been employed 15 years or more. In fact, my 30 years at Frontier ranks only fifth in length of service. That’s a pretty good sign people like working here.
So I — and a lot of other people here — would have to disagree with the old adage. At Frontier at least, familiarity breeds affection.
About the Author: Alan explores ideas and issues related to a sustainable lifestyle — from cooking and culture to social and environmental responsibility. He enjoys Shakespeare, but not as much as college basketball (Go Hawks!). Alan is a family man, liking nothing better than spending time with his wife of 34 years, his four kids and four grandkids.