Stemilt’s Equitable Food Initiative Leadership Team Tackles First Project With Success
WENATCHEE, WA - It was just one month ago that Stemilt announced its first Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certification. Taken on by Stemilt’s Quincy, Washington, EFI leadership team, the company is now applying the problem-solving process to continuously improve operations and fulfill the company’s mission to cultivate people and delight consumers.
“The EFI program includes a robust problem-solving process which the Quincy team eagerly deployed around improving the process of getting water jugs closer to the areas our team members were working,” said West Mathison, President. “It took great teamwork to design the system, develop a process for maintaining it, and then implement it.”
Earlier this year, the Quincy team received an anonymous suggestion in its EFI suggestion box to expand the availability of water throughout the orchard. Not long ago, team members could bring their own water into orchards, but updated food safety guidance required personal water containers to remain outside of the orchard. After the EFI leadership team implements a solution, it must evaluate it by conversing with employees to learn how it functions as well as ensure all points of view are heard.
“This process is very thorough and takes a group of creative, innovative individuals and helps them become one collaborative group to identify the best solution,” explained Mathison. “The water jug project took in total, about two months starting with identifying the problem, to where they are now, which is moving through the evaluation process. The team researched what was needed and how more jugs could be purchased, stored, filled, cleaned, and distributed. This is collaboration at work rather than on individual guessing at what is needed to address an issue.”
Within that time frame, the Quincy leadership team went through a series of concepts and designs before landing on its final design. According to a press release, the Quincy team doubled the amount of water jugs placed strategically around orchard blocks. With the water jug design completed, the team also finalized a stand design and is currently installing those throughout the orchard.
“After implementing this process, the team has created more confidence among employees. The crew members now know they will have easy access to water which results in more efficiencies in the field,” continued Mathison. “And the EFI leadership team has gained confidence in their teamwork, response to concerns and problem-solving skills. This only makes our journey to growing and sharing our world famous fruit with consumers that much more achievable.”
The team is currently reviewing the latest suggestions and will decide on its next project in the coming weeks.
“We are extremely proud of our team who dove into this EFI process headfirst,” said Mathison. “Not only will the team continue to work together to make improvements throughout their operations, but they’re striving to exceed current standards and set new ones so we can continue to cultivate and delight.”
Congratulations to Stemilt on this successful launch!