As a young man, Mike Bideaux worked on a family-farm. One day 30 years ago, an opportunity unexpectedly presented itself for him to make a more stable income by joining what has since evolved into Cargill’s sprawling 577,000-sq.-ft. beef slaughter/fabrication complex in Schuyler, Neb. Today, 2,200 employees harvest and process 900,000 tons of beef products per year at this plant. Although it’s not easy to become a stand-out employee among so many workers, Bideaux, food safety, quality and regulatory (FSQR) supervisor who works during A-shift fabrication, has earned that distinction.
No employee niche at the Schuyler facility commands more admiration and respect than its long-time veterans. “I’ve been working at this plant for 30 years,” Bideaux says with a smile and a trace of astonishment in his voice. “I started in the ground-beef area on the production side and worked there for 10 years, spent one year on the trim line as the area lead and then I moved into tech services. I was promoted to supervisor after being tech service lead on the fabrication side.”
Bideaux’s ascension in the ranks didn’t happen by accident, points out Jarrod Gillig, vice president and general manager of the Schuyler facility. “Mike is the go-to person on our fabrication floor when something has to be done or addressed quickly,” he says. “He clearly makes a tremendous impact on our success and is an excellent asset to our team.”
All in a day’s work
Bideaux begins each morning before sunrise, overseeing and conducting pre-operational inspection, making sure the floor and all equipment are clean and that the fabrication floor is ready for start-up. “I have direct involvement with the US Dept. of Agriculture; multiple aspects of food safety, including all finished goods E. coli testing for trim and grind,” he says. “I also monitor critical control points across the fabrication area, work with the team to monitor sanitation standard operating procedures across the fabrication area to make sure our products are in specification – and I am directly involved with customers regarding specific product requests and visits. I report to Spec Superintendent Dave Amison and FSQR Manager, Tom Meyer.
“I enjoy the strong sense of what is right and wrong,” Bideaux adds while musing over his many current responsibilities, “and also the ability of being directly involved and leading from the heart. I feel like I am working for a company that has high values and strong ethics.”
Along the way, several mentors inspired Bideaux to become the extraordinary employee he is today. “Tom Meyer and Joe Smith set strong examples of hard work, high integrity and high food-safety expectations,” he says.
Meyer earlier explained to Bideaux that he highly regards his talents. “Tom has a great leadership style that really motivates others around him. He challenges his team with critical thinking and creating solid solutions to tough situations,” Bideaux says.
“Mike is a high-energy self-starter,” Meyer points out. “When Mike is tasked to do something, you know it is going to be done right. I wish we had 100 of him.”
Smith was Bideaux’a supervisor on the fab side with the FSQR team. He transitioned to the harvest floor as the dayshift FSQR supervisor, which opened up the opportunity for Bideaux to move into management within the FSQR team. Smith retired in the summer of 2014.
Bideaux is proud of his work ethic. “I learned how to work hard from my parents, who worked in restaurant business… and I give 100 percent every day,” he adds.
The most rewarding part of Bideaux’s job is having a positive impact on operations, but his job also presents challenges. “Sometimes the most challenging part of the job is guiding employees on personnel issues,” he says.
Mike’s passion is passing on his operations knowledge to younger employees and helping them to be more focused on food-safety opportunities. “I am very detail orientated. I really like it when our processes all come together to make things happen correctly to service our customers,” he says.
|||Read more about Cargill lifer Mike Bideaux|||
A family man
During what little free time he has, Bideaux enjoys being with his wife of 35 years, Julie; his son, Luke, who lives near Los Angeles; and daughter, Lindsay, who lives in Omaha. “I enjoy traveling to see my son and daughter, my involvement with Ducks Unlimited, a global leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation, spending time outdoors – and going fishing,” he adds.
Looking to the future, Bideaux remains committed to making Cargill customers happy. “I will do what it takes to make this happen – ensuring we produce the best products possible,” he adds.
Once retired, he wants to be remembered as having made a positive difference every day at the plant and having affected his team members in a positive way while providing safe food to Cargill’s customers worldwide. Bideaux has a simple formula for enjoying success in the meat-processing business, which would apply in almost any field: “Get up early, show up to work every day, give it everything you got – and you will have a very rewarding career.”