Specialty Food Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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FROM THE PUBLISHER The Case for Hiring Veterans T he past few years have seen increased public awareness of the higher unemployment of our service veterans compared with their non-veteran counterparts. It is one of those topics that have a tendency to make those of us who have ridden desk jobs during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars more than a little uncomfortable. Here is a group of men and women who chose to serve their country only to return to civilian life and fnd a weak job market that does not seem to recognize them as being distinctly skilled and qualifed. Mostly what the press is talking about is those who the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls Gulf War–era II veterans; of those, the group with the highest disparity between themselves and non-veterans are 18- to 34-yearolds. In March, the BLS reported that unemployment in 2012 fell to 9.5 percent for male and 12.5 percent for female Gulf War–era II veterans (versus 7.9 percent for non-veterans). For male veterans, that was an improvement over 2011, while unemployment remained unchanged for females. The disparity has improved over the past two years—and plenty of politicians are clamoring to be seen as helping—but what has struck me is the opportunity to hire highly qualified people looking to get into the workforce. If you wrote a list of the qualities you want in a new hire, it would probably be something like this: proven success, leadership and teamwork skills, character, discipline, the ability to work in a dynamic environment, expertise, resiliency and loyalty. In a report by the Center for a New American Security titled, "Employing America's Veterans: Perspectives from Business," that was what surveyed businesses listed as their top reasons for employing veterans. You don't have to look far to find examples of specialty food businesses that have benefited. Dave Hirschkopf of Dave's Gourmet offered the following description of a veteran he worked with: "He has many of the traits that you would assume a veteran might: disciplined, a good work ethic, organized, assertive, a great team player and respectful of chain of command. He has been a great asset and has helped us grow." When I asked what about his experiences as a veteran had made him thrive as production manager for Stonewall Kitchen, Bill Lemieux replied, "I believe that my training has guided me throughout my career. The ability to adapt and learn in changing environments is key to any company's success. Manufacturing is all about planning, timing, teamwork, efficiency and motivation. These are the same qualities needed in military operations. Most veterans also have had experience and exposure to leadership training, which is also very helpful." Whether you are motivated by a sense of duty or patriotism or simple good business, seeking out the veterans to fill key positions in your organization has many benefits. And with the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, thousands more potential assets are on the way to help strengthen your business. |SFM| By Matt Tomas Publisher, Specialty Food Magazine specialtyfood.com mthomas@specialtyfood.com HAVE A COMMENT? facebook.com/craftcarejoy Go to specialtyfood.com/mthomas/veterans @ MAY/JUNE 2013 5

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