I recently attended the annual Christmas Party Virginia Food, the company where Hubby S works.
I entered the venue and I felt chills. There are so many people.
Then and there, I literally had a flashback to 2005. Hubby S was offered a job with Virginia while he was still gainfully employed with L’Oreal. It was a huge leap of faith for us. L’Oreal was a multinational company with a famous product. Virginia Food was an unknown local company. From the beginning we knew the company was in trouble which was why they hired Hubby S… however, we didn’t know how much. Turns out the company was hemorrhaging… at death’s door… on final notice. It was the owner’s final push. It became Hubby S’ burden to carry.
It was a gargantuan mountain to climb and I watched Hubby S struggle with the strain of having to fire over 200 people in the first 6 months to keep the company from closing.
Saying he was under a lot of pressure and stress is a definite understatement. He worked long and arduous hours, suffered multiple vertigo attacks, and had to be hospitalized numerous times.
I prodded him to give up. I assured him he can easily find a job elsewhere… life will go on for us. I wondered aloud if all this is worth it. I told him that Virginia can be a minor blip in a stellar resume.
He told me simply. “If I give up, I can recover easily. What about the 300 people who are still working for the company? I can’t give up. I am going to do this for the 300 jobs I can save if the company doesn’t close.”
That was his sole motivation. His one purpose. To save 300 jobs.
I was doubtful that it was possible to revive this company that had one foot in the grave. However, he has never given me any reason to doubt him before. So I promptly shut up when he adamantly told me “I can do this.”
He proceeded to pour blood, sweat and tears into Virginia. He gave it everything he had… he fixed what he could and got rid of what he couldn’t. He had his fingers in everything, from production to sales and marketing. He came up with startling ideas that rocked the boat, putting Virginia in the crosshairs of giants like Purefoods.
Packaging materials received a major overhaul — from plastic bags with stickers to full colored plastic packs. Hotdog on Stick booths peppered supermarkets as a marketing tool since they didn’t have money for print or TV ads. They slowly upgraded their factory equipment as the sales started to rise slowly. New products were being developed as they tried to keep the brand interesting. Christmas gift bags were given a designer feel… gone were the ugly paper bags they used before.
The employees were there with him every step of the way. Initially, they were doubtful and resistant to the ideas of the young upstart hired from Manila but they gradually warmed up to the new ideas and poured their all into the combined effort to turn the company around.
9 years later. His goal of saving 300 jobs has blossomed into more than what I could have imagined back in 2005.
Over 900 people were at that Christmas Party for regular employees…. there are over 2,500 people gainfully employed with Virginia Food if you count the contractuals.
2,500 jobs that would not be there if he had given up back in 2005.
If his goal had only been for the salary… he would have given up a long time ago.
Every year their Christmas Party is a blast for a lot of reasons. The totally entertaining presentations, the good food and the fun music aside. What’s best about their parties are the sheer joy and intense pride you can feel from all the employees that they are working for Virginia.
Basta Hotdog, Virginia.