MAKING IT COUNT
MAKING IT COUNT
For over half a century, Sanderson Farms’ longest tenured active employee, Mary Ann Thibodeaux, has been crunching numbers and making her years at the company “count.” For Thibodeaux, a good, honest career with Sanderson Farms just made sense, regardless of how many cents she counted over the years.
In early 1969, Thibodeaux started working for a company called Louisiana Hatchery and Very Fresh in Hammond, Louisiana as a receptionist. “When I started working here, it was really convenient,” said Thibodeaux. “We only had one vehicle at that time, and we lived about eight miles from the plant.”
Little did she know at the time, but what started as a convenient job would soon grow into a long and fulfilling career. After five years of Thibodeaux working for Louisiana Hatchery and Very Fresh, Sanderson Farms acquired the company, making Hammond home to Sanderson Farms’ third processing facility in 1974.
During the transition, Thibodeaux applied for the cost accountant job at Sanderson Farms’ new Hammond Processing facility. “When they offered me the job after they bought the company I was with, I was tickled,” said Thibodeaux. “I’m glad they kept me in mind when they offered me the job, and I’m hoping that my record stood behind that.”
In her current role as accounts payable records accountant, Thibodeaux enjoys assisting hourly employees at the plant with any payroll questions or issues. “I hope I make their life a little easier when they come to me with a problem,” said Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux recalls how times have changed in the payroll department over the last 50 years. “In the past, we had time cards and you had to do them by hand and figure all of that up, and we don’t have that now,” said Thibodeaux. “Currently, we have time cards that are scanned and, in every way you can think of, the company has improved and keeps improving.”
In 1987, for the first time in company history, Sanderson Farms made the decision to go public and trade the company’s stock on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Thibodeaux recalls a time in history when the Sanderson Farms stock had reached a $60 valuation per share, and many thought the company’s growth had reached its peak. Today, however, the stock valuation has more than tripled that amount.
Looking back, she remembers working under Joe Sanderson Jr., Lampkin Butts, Brian Williams and other senior leaders that have held management roles at Hammond Processing before assuming their current leadership roles with the company. “It was a little strange when Joe was here, but in a good way,” said Thibodeaux. “He’d go into the plant and work on the line and do all kinds of stuff. He was just a regular person, which is what I like about him.”
As Sanderson Farms’ company vision states, “our dedicated team of caring individuals treats all persons with absolute respect and integrity. People in our organization are devoted to the success of their associates in fulfilling their chosen potential in all aspects of life.”
For Thibodeaux, this excerpt from the vision statement couldn’t be more relevant and applicable to her career. She shares that being treated like a person and being appreciated and commended for her hard work is what has kept her with the company for over 52 years now.
“In 1993, when I first started at this plant, I met Mary Ann for the first time,” said Eric Erickson, division manager for Sanderson Farms’ Hammond, Louisiana processing facility. “I would say she is the backbone of not only the accounting department, but our entire facility’s operation. I hate to even think about a day when I walk into that department and don’t see her smiling face early in the morning when I go get a cup of coffee.”