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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

The workload at the dairy increases

Our Southland Corporation division was responsible for serving all the Seven-Eleven stores in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. area. We served many government institutions. In the State counties of Maryland and Virginia many schools received our products. All of the Washington D.C. schools were served by our company.

I was involved with all the health agencies. Whenever we had an inspector from the State Health Inspection in our plant I always tried to get away from him. It was my job to go along through our production plant with the State Health inspector. The inspectors were very tough and they always took a lot of my time, and that would set me back in my own work. I didn't have much help in the lab at that time, and I was always very considerate for the people who worked in my department.

Southland Corporation business expanded so rapidly that they always needed new top executives in their headquarters in Dallas, Texas. In the ten years I worked at the Embassy plant in Waldorf, Maryland, I had four General Managers. All of them wanted to do better business than the one who had been there before. Changes of new General Managers always meant more work for me. Each of them always wanted certain things to be changed in the work schedule of the quality control department. Then as Southland Corporation started to expand they came with a complete new quality control program which would be the same in every production food plant they operated in the U.S.A. I was even asked to help them set up their program. Every month I had to send a complete set of all our products by airmail to their central lab in Dallas, with every day's lab records for a whole month. All of this was graded and complete grade reports were sent to the General Managers of the food production plants in the U.S.A. In my case the job became a real hassle as our modern, sophisticated production plant shouldn't have much problem to be the number one production plant of the country. That's what the top management thought, but it wasn't that easy.

In the ten years that I worked in this modern, sophisticated milk plant, I almost never had a decent lunch break. It was always a quick bite on the run and just keep on going with whatever you were doing. There were days when some of my help would call in sick and there wasn't any replacement. I couldn't leave and just had to work around the clock. It seemed to me that the top management did not have much consideration for the people so long as everything was done and they were making money, it was never questioned how this money was made. Most top management had no idea how the money was made and what was going on in the production plant. There were many of the supervising personnel who were looking out for themselves and took many hours from the company to benefit themselves. In our production plant all of our labor force was organized and belonged to the Teamster Union. Top management and organized labor weren't the best of friends and you could sense this by the way some of the work duties were performed in different departments in our production plant. It always surprised me how little interest most of our labor force had in their work, and it wasn't because they were underpaid for what they were doing. It seemed to me the saving of a computerized production plant gave most of the labor force the idea that they were somehow benefited by not having to give their full attention to their work. The words 'computerized operation' took the words 'manual operation' out of their daily work duties. On many of my clean-up inspections, and I always did this on weekends when the production plant was idle, I could tell that so many people got used to saying the computer will do all the cleaning for us. The labor force did know that during the cleaning procedure many components had to be manually cleaned, but they totally depended on the computer. All of this didn't make it very easy for me to have an effective quality control program, as there was just too much detail work of checking behind the labor force. It seems to me that at that time too much emphasis was being placed on this sophisticated operation and more emphasis needed to be placed on the basics for the two to go hand in hand.

CONTINUED: Personality Clashes over Management Attitudes
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