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Working Iowa: As more people spend time in the kitchen, Frontier Co-op sees an increased workload

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:44 AM CST
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NORWAY, Iowa (KCRG) - Shannon Rouse is one of more than 600 employees at Frontier Co-op in Norway which produces spices and herbs. She’s been there for about four years now as a bottling line operator.

“We get to go out to the line and see how it’s running, see what we need for supplies and just get help as we need it and run like the wind if we can,” she said.

There are about 8 lines. They carry the spices from big hoppers to empty jars.

“Then after it comes out of our filler, it’ll go and get a sifter and it’ll get sealed in a cap and some labels...it does get x-rayed to check for glass and metal,” Rouse explained.

Then, they’re labeled and shipped to customers. The pandemic has increased the company’s workload.

“We are just hand-over-fist busy, busy, busy,” Rouse said. “They’re constantly calling for overtime and things like that...we’ve all worked some different shifts.”

“A lot more people are working from and also cooking from home,” said Vice President of Human Resources, Megan Schulte. “So, fortunately, that has impacted our industry in a positive way, so we’ve been seeing an uptick in spices.”

She says they’ve hired about a hundred employees since the beginning of the pandemic, but they need more.

“We’re looking to add on right around another 30 more in the next couple of months,” she said.

A majority of jobs they need to fill are in manufacturing operations.

“That would be operator positions, production, worker jobs, so they’re helping run the machines, forklift drivers helping move material,” she asid. “We have a 24-hour operation during the week... we also have weekend hours available.”

Rouse says, no matter the position, they’ll put you to work.

“There’s usually 5 to 6 of us on a line and we all have a part to play,” Rouse said. “We have someone who’s dumping our product into our hopper, we’ve got someone who’s taking care of the glass, we’ve got someone who’s packing out our product, someone changing out our labels, refilling our caps.”

She says the company also works with its employees to help them advance in their careers.

“If you want to go into more of a customer service role or do operations, they will do what they can to get you there. That does include schooling and leadership classes,” Rouse said.

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