Donnie Temperley recognizes the value of people. That awareness was seized early on, just three days out of high school, in fact, when he started his career as an hourly employee on the production floor of a meat packing facility in eastern Iowa. He saw the care that his peers put into their work, and over the years, as his determination guided him into management, he's never lost sight that it's people who matter most.
"I'm the type of person where it's really not about me," says Temperley, a 2010 Minnesota Executive Program (MEP) graduate. "I have been given a lot of great opportunities in my career. And to be able to go into leadership roles from the ground up like I did, it's really the people along the way that have helped me the most."
From those early beginnings in eastern Iowa, his career has taken him to the Hormel Corporation in Austin, Minnesota, and to Fremont, Nebraska where, since 2005, Temperley has served as general manager of Hormel's Fremont Plant - Refrigerated Foods Operations.
The plant is the second largest in Hormel's portfolio and, on a weekly basis, processes and produces hundreds of thousands of pounds of pork products, including roughly a million pounds of SPAM™.
Temperley has full supervision of the plant's operations, including its 1,400 employees whom, he says, he ardently strives to support every day.
"With leadership, there's really two things: you've got to be technically good at what you do, but you have to couple that with treating people with respect," he says. "I like to get to know every employee on a personal level because I want them to be successful at what they do. And however we can help them improve, I think that's great."
Improving is just what Temperley did for himself in fall 2010 by attending MEP.
"It was outstanding," he says of MEP. "Really, it turned out to be an educational experience for me and my staff at the plant-I was learning new skills at MEP and they were learning new skills at the plant because I had to delegate work to them."
A "people person" at heart, Temperley was quick to immerse himself in the daily interactions with his MEP peers. "The people were wonderful," he says. "You learn so much from each other because you come to find that you all really have similar needs. I also found it amazing how people threw different ideas out there, and everyone contributed whether they were an expert or not."
He says the return on his education has come in many forms. He now understands the questions to ask to better challenge people, and finds the technical aspects of his plant's operations easier to assimilate.
"What the MEP classes did best was to provide an educational overview of the areas in which you normally do not operate, while enhancing the areas that you do. I collected different knowledge tools to assist me in the performance of my responsibilities, and those tools give me the opportunity to effectively evaluate my business and assist others in the performance of their duties," he says.
But what impressed Temperley most from the experience was the bond that he formed with his peers - a bond that he reflected upon while giving the keynote speech at graduation.
"In my speech I told the group that it was during our second week together - up at beautiful Minnesuing Acres where the Carlson family held many family gatherings - that we became a family as well. Because we really did. It was so neat!" he says.
"The MEP experience is something that I'll treasure for the rest of my life."
For more information on the Minnesota Executive Program visit the MEP Website.