We are committed to our customers, to our employees, and to using business as a force for good.
Ted Castle: I’ve always felt like starting small and starting your own business and having to do it all yourself makes it sort of interesting because you have a sense of the beginning. For me, starting a business but never having been in business, it was really about the journey right from the start. I guess the Rhino Foods journey begins with cookie dough.
In 1991, a customer came to us for help in doing something that had never been done before – putting cookie dough into ice cream. As most people know, we figured it out. When we first started, we were excited if we could make 2000 pounds of cookie dough in a day. Now, we can make that amount in about 20 minutes. We’re the number one producer of cookie dough and bakery-style inclusions for ice cream applications.
We’re still a relatively small business, but because we’re the best at what we do, we’re able to work for and with some of the largest global food companies in the world. Quite frankly, it’s forced us to develop and implement world-class quality systems really that are very unique for a company our size. We have a small company attitude, but big company delivery.
One of our principles is that we want to delight our customers. As a small company, we’re more able to do this because we’re working one-on-one with our customers around service, product design, innovation, quality, and delivery. It’s based on relationships and those relationships aren’t just limited to the salespeople or the front office. The people making the cookie dough or ice cream cookie sandwiches, they know who our customers are, because we talk at company meetings about how those specific customers can help us learn, help us grow or move into a new category.
20 years ago, I decided that in order for people to be part of making Rhino successful, they had to understand where the money is going. We call it Open Book Management, and that means we share all the financial information about how the company is doing with our employees at every level.
Sharing information is one thing, providing incentives is another. We created a Bonus on Goals program that ties measurable internal goals around things like production, quality and safety to cash payouts for all employees. We know that what we’re doing at Rhino impacts people’s private lives. We also know what happens outside of work really impacts people’s ability to come to work and do a good job at Rhino. We put a lot of time and energy into employee programs because we know it’s going to help our business and it’s going to help our people.
We have what we call a Resource Coordinator, who’s on site three days a week to help employees access services for all kinds of things like childcare, heating assistance or even getting a driver’s license. One of our most popular successful programs is the Income Advanced Program. It allows any full-time Rhino employee to get up to $1000 cash loan the same day, no questions asked, and it is paid back through payroll deduction.
Our journey here is evolving. We’re working hard to make delicious products, but we’re also working to impact our employees lives, and on some level, the way business is done.