Chris Kirby is unequivocal when asked how he feels about Clover. “Great company to work for…. I love my job and the challenges it provides for me.”
He came to Clover in 1999 at the suggestion of a friend, Todd McClure, who worked in the cooler then and is now a private driver. Chris had been working on tugboats and, while he enjoyed that job, he did not like the hours and being away from home––so Clover naturally provided both a professional opportunity and a personal solution.
At first, Chris worked in the cooler, loaded trucks, and drove specials. When a production position opened, he applied for that because it seemed like a stepping stone to what he most wanted to do: work at Clover as a mechanic.
He feels he was born to be a mechanic and when Clover learned of Chris’s interest and ambition, they accommodated his wishes. “The thing about Clover,” Chris explains, “is that they listen, and reward effort and talent.”
Chris is a problem-solver. He regards problems as opportunities, which is what he liked about working on tugboats where there were always challenges that kept his job interesting. It’s the same at Clover and keeping things running smoothly. “You need to be reactive when a problem arises. You assess it and fix a machine quickly when it goes down.”
Chris has always enjoyed “working on stuff.” At Clover he knew that he wanted to work in maintenance on the bottling equipment. “We take great care when we work on this equipment,” he says, where the difference is attention to preventive measures in the maintenance of the machines, such as assuring there are no cracks for bacteria to hide. And, there is the personal satisfaction Chris gets when he sees how much people love and trust Clover milk. “That certainly makes the effort we put into our work worthwhile, because we know that what we do matters.”
When Chris got married, two of the owners came to his wedding. “We definitely used to a be a very tight-knit family.” And while things have changed with Clover’s growth, such as management’s move off site, Chris appreciates the ability to do more preventive maintenance by addressing mechanical issues before problems arise. “The plant has definitely gotten better and better,” which makes Chris happy in his work and only increases his dedication.
But there is also the satisfaction he gets from being part of a company that continues its involvement in the community over the years he has been at Clover. “The response to Clover is always positive. You often feel like a celebrity when people learn that you work at Clover.”