On a hot, July weekday afternoon, employees gathered outside Excalibur Seasoning headquarters in Pekin, Illinois for an old-fashioned company picnic. They were here to celebrate the company’s early beginnings, when the late Jerry Hall launched his seasonings business thirty-four years ago.
The event is aptly named “Founder’s Day.”
“This is the day that we recognize and remember our founder, Jerry Hall,” says Glenna Roripaugh, HR Coordinator. “Jerry valued employees and this is a good way to show our team how much he cared. If he were here, Jerry would do this for the workers and he would want it to be great.”
Glenna says she, Excalibur CEO Tom Hornstein and CFO Tom Shrier, collaborated to discuss a potential company-wide event after Hall died in June of 2018. Roripaugh, who regularly organizes employee appreciation meals and the annual Christmas party, asked to be involved and was immediately allowed to take over the reins. The signature meal included bratwurst, made with a Kansas City custom blend from Excalibur, BBQ pork chops, the ever-popular Ultimate Steak & Roast Rub on the hamburgers, and sides from several local businesses that are customers of the company.
“We served 90 people in a half hour,” recalls Glenna. “The temperature was nearing 96 degrees that day, so some of the workers brought their fans outside to help us stay cooler. Because of the pandemic, we asked for packets of ketchup and mustard because we could not use bottles of condiments. Excalibur purchased fold-up chairs for everyone so they could safely eat their meal and sit at a distance from others.”
Jerry Hall’s lasting attitude of care and concern for one another remains a constant throughout the company, especially during this time. As HR Coordinator, Glenna is in charge of taking employee temperatures on all daily shifts. Every day she makes a point to ask people how they are feeling in addition to checking on the well-being of their family.
“I think that makes a difference. Someone recently asked me if I was afraid (of the pandemic). No, I’m not afraid. Concerned? Yes, but we already practice the hand-washing and safety measures here that are necessary. Tom Hornstein has an open door and talks to people. His openness and that of our other leadership help us all team together to make sure everyone is okay.”
And the values Excalibur celebrates on Founder’s Day each year carry over to future employees who walk through the doors looking for more than just a job.
“When I interview a new hire and take them on a tour, they say everyone is so happy around here,” says Glenna. “I say, ‘Yes, we try to do it that way.’”