Ruperto Oliveros is the assistant herdsman at Second Look Holsteins in Eden, Wis. Oliveros has been employed at the farm for 16 years, working his way up from milker to parlor manager and now assistant herdsman. 
Ruperto Oliveros is the assistant herdsman at Second Look Holsteins in Eden, Wis. Oliveros has been employed at the farm for 16 years, working his way up from milker to parlor manager and now assistant herdsman. PHOTO SUBMITTED
    EDEN, Wis. – The people who work at Second Look Holsteins in Eden, Wis. are more than just employees to Corey Hodorff, one of the farm’s owners. Hodorff treats employees like family.
    “We recognize each person as an individual,” Hodorff said. “We care about our employees and want to see them succeed.”
    Second Look Holsteins is owned by Hodorff and his wife, Tammy; Hodorff’s dad, Doug, and stepmother, Linda; and Hodorff’s brother, Clint. The Hodorffs milk 1,025 cows, farm 1,300 acres and employ 16 people outside the family, 13 of which are full time and three part time.
    The farm is fortunate to have many longstanding employees in its ranks. The employee with the longest tenure is Bill Lenz. In charge of cropping and fieldwork, Lenz has worked at Second Look for 31 years and will be retiring at the end of 2019. Corey Guell, assistant manager or “second in charge” as designated by Hodorff, just celebrated his 20-year anniversary with the farm. Ruperto Oliveros, bilingual parlor manager and assistant herdsman, has been at Second Look for 16 years, while Brenda Cook, the office manager, has been with the farm for 13 years.
    Second Look promotes a positive employee culture grounded in respect, and rich in training and educational opportunities. Hodorff refers to the farm as a company and runs an employee program similar to that of a corporation. He wants to equip team members with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve success in their current roles and aspire to higher positions, while also offering a competitive wage and benefits package.
    “We place emphasis on training and continuing education, and try to provide plenty of opportunities for professional and personal development and growth,” Hodorff said. “We encourage moving up in the company and strive to give employees all of the tools they need to be successful.”
    Oliveros worked his way up to parlor manager, starting out as a milker and developing his skills to the point that he is now capable of doing most any job on the farm.
    “He can feed calves, tend to maternity, care for fresh cows and treated cows, mix TMR, etc.,” Hodorff said. “Ruperto has always showed an interest in learning new things so we have given him opportunities to do so. He attends seminars and brings back to the farm what he has learned in order to grow his skills and help make our team more efficient.”
    Oliveros has enjoyed working for the dairy.
    “I love working here,” Oliveros said. “Corey is a nice guy who gives me as much time as I need to answer any questions I may have. Everybody here works as a team, as a family. We treat each other well and respect each other. Everyone has a place here – you know you’re not just an employee.”  
    Employees receive basic on-farm job training when they begin working at Second Look as well as monthly training from Motiva Consulting. Motiva performs on-farm bilingual training and manager training for Hispanic employees wanting to develop skills and advance in their career. Motiva comes to Second Look once a month to train all employees on a specific topic, such as mastitis detection, skid loader safety, animal handling or hazardous chemicals.
    Hodorff encourages employees to attend PDPW or UW-Extension events to increase their knowledge of the industry and learn about things of interest, even if not necessarily related to their job on the farm. Second Look sends its managers to the Zoetis PeopleFirst program to receive next-level management training and sharpen leadership skills. Hodorff said his employees also participate in PDPW’s Cornerstone Dairy Academy to strengthen personal and professional skills.
    “We pay for continuing education of team members even if it’s not within agriculture,” Hodorff said. “For example, they may want to take a welding, Spanish or English class, and we financially support these ambitions.”
    Second Look also extends this perk to the children of employees by providing scholarships for further education, within or outside the field of agriculture.
    “We take the time to learn about our employees’ future plans,” Hodorff said. “I like to find out where they see themselves in the future so we can direct them to the right places to gain the needed knowledge and skills. This seems to keep our team engaged and always looking for new opportunities within our business.”     
    Accomplishments do not go unnoticed at Second Look Holsteins, and Hodorff and other members of management are quick to recognize a job well done. In lieu of a traditional Christmas party, Second Look holds an employee recognition picnic every spring. Attended by employees and their families, as well as the farm’s consultants, veterinarian, nutritionist, landlords and heifer raisers, the picnic is a time to take note of employees’ various years of service, and workers are awarded plaques and gift cards.   
    “I think it’s important to bring everyone together annually to celebrate and recognize accomplishments of the past year,” Hodorff said.  “We invite everyone who has something to do with the company because we’re all a team, even if some people aren’t here every day.”
    The farm also conducts a variety of team-building exercises throughout the year, pairing up employees with people they do not normally interact with on a daily basis. To further embrace a team atmosphere, Second Look distributes uniforms to every employee.
    If issues arise, Hodorff said they communicate openly with employees and take a positive approach to solving.
    “We’ll ask, ‘How can I help you do your job better?’ instead of saying, ‘You’re doing it incorrectly,’” Hodorff said.
    Second Look also produces a monthly newsletter to highlight different aspects and happenings on the farm. Translated into Spanish for the farm’s 12 Spanish-speaking employees, the newsletter is also emailed to the farm’s consultants, veterinarian and other team members.
    “We’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Hodorff said. “It’s a nice way to keep everyone up to speed and on the same page. The people who milk cows don’t always know what’s going on with crops and vice versa, so the newsletter is an opportunity to learn about some of those things.”
    Furthermore, Hodorff recently instituted a positive praise board – a bulletin board on which people can post complimentary notes about their fellow employees. The positive statements are written on index cards, and when the board is full, Hodorff buys lunch for the team. He said the board is another way to appreciate what people are doing not only for the farm, but for others on a personal level as well.  
    “We think of our employees as family,” Hodorff said. “We try to treat people fairly, living by the motto, treat others as you would want to be treated.”