The Smithfield Foods Clinton plant honored Vernon Williams for 50 years of service during a lunch this week honoring longtime employees.
While hosting the ceremony, Leonard Smith, regional human resources director for Smithfield, spoke about how a lot has changed over the years. Some the things included costs for cars, food and movie tickets which were $1.20 at the time.
“Things have gone up a lot since you started working,” Smith said while expressing the significance of the time, which began in the 196os.
In addition to a plaque, some of the other gifts included a jacket and mug. Williams was very humble about the occasion and gave credit to Glen Clark, former director of operations.
“If it wasn’t for this man right here, I wouldn’t be here,” Williams said. “He’s the one that taught me.”
When Williams, a Clinton native, began working at the plant in 1967, he earned $1 per hour. His first job was trimming pork loins and pork picnics. After 35 years, he became a crew leader.
“I enjoy coming to work and I enjoy the people,” Williams said. “As long as you can do the best you do, it’s a good place to work.”
Clark talked about his dedication, discipline and responsibility showed during his job. He was the second best knifeman he’s known. With a chuckle, Williams said Clark was No. 1. He told a business story about how Williams’ skills were needed to impress clients from Japan and told them that he could “dissect a fly with a knife.”
He would always come to work an hour early every morning,” Williams said. “I don’t remember him ever being late. He’s been very good for this company.”
Before Williams was recognized, many employee were honored for years of service ranging from 5 to 25 years. Terry Orness, general manager, spoke about how the impact of the plant in Clinton, made possible by employees.
“It’s been good to a lot of people,” Clark said. “We look forward to it continuing on and be a place for people to come and work and make a good living.”
See B1’s business page for more Smithfield employees recognized.