In time for the holidays, snow has covered the Basin. Aside from the peacefulness created by the white blanket, hopes of a good water-year are filling everyone who lives here with optimism. After the years of drought, a true white Christmas with fresh snow brings with it the anticipation of a bright – and wet – 2016.
This time of year brings with it office parties and celebrations of all sorts, and it’s the same for Gold Dust and Walker Brothers. For the past four years, some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the companies’ partners invite the managers and most important employees to dinner to discuss the current state of the businesses, where they see things going and to recognize three people who are doing an outstanding job. This year, the Leadership Dinner was held December 5th at Mr. B’s in Klamath Falls. After appetizers and mingling over drinks, Bill and John welcomed the guests and discussed how building relationships is helping Walker Brothers and Gold Dust succeed. Tricia and Weston followed them with the changes the company made over the past year, some of the challenges the farm and businesses faced, discussed what had been successfully implemented from last year’s Leadership Dinner and welcomed ideas for the upcoming year.
Following dinner, the Top 3 Leaders of 2015 were presented by Weston and Tricia. Though she was home with a sick child that night, Nayeli Pena was recognized for her leadership in the office. For those not familiar with Nayeli’s history with Gold Dust, she started off on the packing shed floor sorting potatoes and worked her way into the front office. Showing an incredible work ethic and attention to detail, Tricia and Bill constantly asked her to come work upstairs until she finally said yes, where she continues to shine. Weston and Lexi presented Toby Turner with an award for Outstanding Farm Manager. Toby started with Walker Brothers as an equipment operator and over the last few summers has stepped up and helped Weston grow the hay farm. Not only does he help with growing and haying the alfalfa, he helps with loading trucks, keeping an eye on the hay inventory with the Gold Dust office staff – earning him the role of Hay Farm Manager. The final leader recognized was Matt Thompson. Bill and John talked about when Matt started with the company, unsure if he’d make it through a summer of farm work. But he made it through that summer, and with Salvador, puts in the long hours during shipping season to manage the packing shed and it’s crew, earning him the nick-name “Little Bill”.
Since Christmas is a major part of the season, this time of year also brings with the annual Gold Dust toy drive. From November through December, Gold Dust sets up a jar for donations and encourages employees to donate toys for the local Toys for Tots program. For every toy donated, Gold Dust matches the gift. This year, Gold Dust and its employees raised $216 and as a group donated over 60 toys!
Keeping in the Christmas spirit, Gold Dust’s office staff upheld their annual ugly sweater contest, desk decorating contest and secret Santa exchange. This year, Santos Flores took home, ahem, “top” honors for his sweater of choice while Rich and Jeanne teamed up for the best decorated office!
Another annual holiday tradition is the Holiday Luncheon held at our packing shed. For lunch, Santos arranged for Gold Dust and Walker Brothers employees to gather on the packing shed floor for a catered lunch from Tacos Ala Mexicana of Merrill. Among the Christmas trees made from old pallets, our crews visited while munching on enchiladas and tacos. After Bill, Tricia and Weston thanked everyone for their hard work – and their generosity for the toy drive! – cake was served.
While this time of year always brings out the charity in everyone, Gold Dust would like to encourage giving year-round. One of the ways we try to help is by getting food to our local food bank. Aside from donating potatoes, with the help of Rich Wright, our trucking dispatcher and broker, we also facilitate the moving of food items for the Southern Oregon Outreach Foundation and the Klamath Lake County Food Bank. While we have trucks and someone with a big heart to help us help these organizations throughout the year, we all can find ways to help out in our community so the holiday spirit lasts throughout the year. Even if you don’t want to give money or donate food, there are a lot of creative ways to give back, and even giving your time to these organizations helps make a difference.
It’s been quite a year, and we couldn’t have had as good of one if it weren’t for our amazing employees. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to our companies. We hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas with their families. And here’s to a fantastic 2016!