21 July 2016

Kudos to this Wisconsin sausage maker

Jose Moreno had serious concerns when he arrived for work...  He and his wife just had a baby and now his job appeared in jeopardy after an early morning fire destroyed the Johnsonville Sausage factory here where Moreno had worked for the past eight years.

Moreno, 37, is still working and being paid by the bratwurst giant. Only on Friday, instead of using a knife to process hogs, he wore green chest waders and slogged through the muck of Heiden Pond to search for debris in the cloudy water.

“I thought I was going to be unemployed,” Moreno, who lives in Lake Mills, said during a break. “You have a family and you have to support them.”

The work by Moreno and his co-workers is an effort by Johnsonville to retain the 120 employees at its Watertown plant as the company rebuilds its operations here. So instead of losing the workers, Johnsonville is keeping them busy and maintaining their pay and benefits...

Other community projects have included landscaping and brush removal at the Octagon House and at the municipal airport, sorting items at Bethesda Thrift Store and painting projects at City Hall.
The workers are also taking classes at the Watertown campus of Madison Area Technical College where they are learning computers and math skills and improving their English. A few, including Moreno, are working toward a high school equivalency certificate...

After the fire, which was ruled accidental, the company purchased a 68,000-square-foot facility in an industrial park on the city’s south side. The factory, which will include sausage production lines, is scheduled to be completed [a year after the fire]...

[H]is work site was the pond where he and his employees, many of them with more than 20 years with the company, worked to make a community a little better.  On Friday, Moreno and 15 other Johnsonville employees, pulled sunken logs, beer cans, a lawn chair, a broken milk crate and part of a steel barrel from the pond. They used chain saws and long-handled clippers to cut brush and a donated lawn tractor to haul the limbs and debris to a staging area for pickup by the city, which owns the pond...
This is a very smart business move by the company.  Had they not paid their workers to stay and do community work, many of them might have been forced by financial considerations to move away to look for jobs elsewhere. More details and a video at the link.


  1. I love this! I'm going to go buy some Johnsonville sausages right now.

  2. FYI... the fire happened in 2015, over a year ago.

    1. Thank you, anon. I hadn't seen the dateline on the story. I've amended the text accordingly (and added the link which I had inadvertently left out).

  3. Excellent! Is this a local company or a national brand I can buy in California? (I don't normally buy sausages, but now I want to!)

  4. That's extraordinary, kudos to this company.

  5. Sorry to be the Scrooge about this... but as a business owner I know this means that they were making waaaay too much money off these people in the past!


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