How a Rainy Barbecue Picnic Taught Me 3 Critical Values
On summer Sundays when I was a small child, my parents, my brother and I would go for a barbecue picnic. After church and Sunday school we’d change our clothes, load the tabletop grill and food into the back of our enormous ’59 Mercury station wagon, and Dad would drive us about 30 miles to a small park at the edge of Quasqueton, Iowa, along the Wapsipinicon river.
Maybe it was the shallow dam that provided good fishing and the elderly oaks, maples, and elms that lined the banks that gave the air its special combination of smells and warmth. Whatever the source, the place was magical to my young mind.
During this summer ritual, I began to learn some important values.
Adaptability. Respect. Teamwork.
I learned it’s important to adapt to changed circumstances and to always have a back-up plan. One Sunday it started to rain while we were there. So, my folks folded down the back seat to enlarge the cargo area and we ate cross-legged and crammed in the back of the wagon.
That unexpectedly rainy Sunday also taught me about respect. There was no finger-pointing or unkind words, no second-guessing. Decades before cell phones and weather apps put weather information at our fingertips, weather prediction was sketchy at best. The sky was clear, until it wasn’t. Then, they made the best of a situation neither could control or have foreseen. They worked together as a team. Dad kept the coals burning long enough to finish cooking the ribs. Mom rushed to gather up everything else and move it into the car. Mom was afraid we’d get sick if the pork was undercooked. (We didn’t.) The potato salad was watery. We ate it anyway. I thought it was a grand adventure.
I learned about teamwork when I watched how Dad would grill country-style ribs while Mom set the table and brought out the other foods. They worked together to clean up after the meal and to pack the car. (My role on the team was to go play where they could see me, keep an eye on my little brother, and to stay away from the river.)
These values—adaptability, respect, teamwork, are foundational to Hotchkiss Pecan Foods. We know you hold these values too. They’re necessary for our success as an organization. We work to demonstrate these values in every action we take with each other, and in every interaction with our customers and with our suppliers. I thought you’d want to know. In future posts I’ll talk about our mission and delve deeper into our values in action.