With sites in more than 60 communities worldwide and a workforce of around 4,200 people, it’s not uncommon for neighbours, friends and family to work in our business. In light of the pandemic and shake-up in working practices, we asked one such family unit what working at Tate & Lyle has meant for them and how changes at work have affected them.
Here is what married couple Tina and Mark Goodnight, who work in our two neighbouring production facilities in Lafayette, Indiana, US, shared with us:
“We’ve been together for 35 years and were high school sweethearts,” explained Tina. “We both grew up in farming communities and always knew we wanted our careers to be connected to agriculture in some way.”
Most of Mark and Tina’s careers have been spent in food production-related businesses, most recently at Tate & Lyle, where they have each worked for 20 years. Mark is a member of the quality lab team at Tate & Lyle’s Lafayette Sagamore site where he ensures the quality and safety of products such as speciality texturants that are destined for food and beverage customers. Tina works as the Food Safety Coordinator in the neighbouring Lafayette South facility, also ensuring that Tate & Lyle meets the highest standards in product safety.
“For the majority of our time at Tate & Lyle we’ve worked at separate sites and on different shifts,” Tina continued. “Working on different shifts gave us flexibility when our son was young and it has helped us in regards to raising livestock on our farm. When our work schedules do match up, we enjoy travelling, spending time with our families, and working around the farm together.”
Safety at the heart of working life
As an ingredient producer that helps feed millions worldwide, safety has always been foundational to how Tate & Lyle operates, which was an advantage when the pandemic hit as additional safety protocols and training were an add-on to an existing set of working practices that employees were used to.
“When you live and breathe safety at work, it naturally extends to your home life,” Mark continued. “Our son also works in manufacturing. Between the three of us, we have been abundantly cautious during the pandemic not to put ourselves or our co-workers in a situation that would jeapordise anyone's wellbeing.”
“With Mark and I working at the same company we have an understanding of each other’s day to day responsibilities at work, challenges, and goals,” Tina continued. “We are fortunate to share that level of knowledge and understanding. It makes for many conversations that have made us laugh throughout the years!”
Changes and challenges brought on by Covid-19
Working in a small quality team that plays an essential role in ensuring product can safely go to customers has been challenging, for instance when team members have had to self-isolate after potential exposure to Covid-19, as per the company’s heightened safety protocols. “It’s been tough and we’ve all had to step up to make sure shifts are covered,” Mark explained. “We all have a job to do and play an important role in making sure the company succeeds. You have to do what you have to do."
Like many team members, Tina has moved to part-time home working and has enjoyed the hybrid approach. “I enjoy connecting with my team and the wider business via video calls, and really like the ‘Virtual Cafes’ with Nick [Nick Hampton, CEO] where you can find out what’s happening in the business and ask questions. I didn’t connect with people in this way before and it’s a nice adjustment.”
Reflections on time together at Tate & Lyle
“We are proud to have careers connected to agriculture. I'm grateful to work at Tate & Lyle knowing the impact that our jobs play in providing the world safe and high-quality food and drink,” Tina added. “Our time at the company has meant we could raise a family comfortably in the community, travel (although we had three vacations cancelled last year due to Covid-19!) and develop professionally within our roles.
“It’s an environment where you can grow as a person and if you think of an area that you want to learn about – supply chain, transport, food safety systems – you’re encouraged and helped to learn so you can grow in the role. Few companies place such value on personal growth and development. That's a big part of what makes Tate & Lyle a special place to work."