March 25, 2022
In November of 2020, Jessica Hedges was introduced to Petsource by Scoular as a new production employee. She had never worked in a production facility let alone operated a packaging machine.
Today, Jessica herself introduces new employees to Petsource—90, to be exact—as our HR generalist at Petsource in Seward, Nebraska.
Jessica was promoted to an HR role last summer after displaying empathy, inclusivity and hard work. Her work is critical to Petsource’s success as we shape a strong employee culture and recruit high-integrity team members to our new and growing business. Over the next year, our $75 million facility expansion will require an additional 80 hires.
I’m also thankful for Jessica’s leadership and engagement in areas outside of human resources. She is a quiet leader willing to learn and jump into a new project. I’ve learned so much from her ideas and recommendations.
A little background on Jessica: She married her high school sweetheart. After graduation, they moved from Nebraska to the Washington, D.C., area. Her husband was in the Navy. She worked at its uniform shop then as the assistant to operations at the Navy Exchange.
They later relocated with the military to Okinawa, Japan, where their second child was born. Just as she welcomes new employees to Scoular, in Japan she took it upon herself to introduce new military families with dinners, women’s groups and play dates.
“We just always tried to make new people feel welcome and not feel so alone,” Jessica said.
I see these attributes—empathy, inclusivity, compassion—reflected in her ability to understand the multiple nuances for new employees coming on board, as well as our existing team.
She leads orientation/onboarding meetings nearly every other week, with two to six people each time, and always brings a thoughtful, employee-first perspective. Jessica knows it is important to create a culture where employees feel included. When she toured Petsource as a new employee, she quickly noted that workers on the manufacturing floor looked up, made eye contact and smiled.
“That showed me that team members had built relationships and connected with each other as a team, as well,” Jessica said.
Like 60 percent of Scoular hires, she had either no or limited production experience before joining Petsource. Jessica said the Petsource culture helped her to learn new skills. She recalls, for example, that when she learned how to snap buckets into the front of a machine that places product into retail pouches, co-workers quickly complimented her and said “good job.”