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Inspired People: Mark Hamilton

First on the job. 

February was a good month for Mark Hamilton. First came the news he was hoping for: an all-clear sign from his doctor five years after a bout with cancer. Still basking in the glow of his good fortune and clean bill of health, he then found himself standing beside Hormel Foods President and CEO Jim Snee, pulling on the branded shirt that is the hallmark of Pride of the Jersey.

He’s been a part of the foundation that this plant was built on and has played a key role in the success and growth that we have experienced.

According to Osceola Food Plant Manager John Hoag, the honor is well-deserved.

“Mark has been here since the beginning. He epitomizes our cultural beliefs with his consistency and talent to work … throughout all of our divisions,” he says.

John speaks literally. Mark and his wife, Sue, enjoy the distinction of being the first two employees hired when the plant opened more than 20 years ago.

Mark’s manager, Pat Thornburgh, has worked with him most of that time. He’s seen Mark’s career and life unfold firsthand.

“He’s been a part of the foundation that this plant was built on and has played a key role in the success and growth that we have experienced. As they would say…Mark has the ‘right stuff,’” he says.

Mark grew up in Martensdale, Iowa, some 30 miles from Osceola. He and Sue have six children and 15 grandchildren, giving them ample opportunities to fill their free time with family and friends.

Mark is also a self-proclaimed outdoorsman who loves to hunt and fish. Even his travel has a natural twist. Camping trips have a time-honored spot on the family’s recreation agenda. Not surprising, Mark approaches his work with the same enthusiasm. He is loath to miss a day and is proud of his ability to help out whenever and however he can.

“I service the departments downstairs and I like being able to meet their needs and keep the production lines moving,” he says.

Pat elaborates, calling Mark a leader in the workforce who is a champion of safety.

“He’s concerned with efficiencies, as well as cost controls, and is always looking to get the work done correctly the first time. He’s not afraid to speak up and challenge himself daily, all the while working in a safe manner.”

Living for the day is no doubt a lesson underscored by Mark’s battle with cancer. Though Mark downplayed his diagnosis and treatment, it nevertheless affected his attitude toward life.

“Oh, boy,” he says. “It changes your life completely. You don’t take anything for granted anymore.”

He says family pulled him through, a fitting tribute to a man who consistently gives so much to others.

“He’s been one of our pillars,” John says.

Pride of the Jersey is a yearlong effort to celebrate the culture, the people and the purpose of Hormel Foods. Inspired People. Inspired Food.™