This year’s cover story isn’t about one processor. It’s about all the processors who read this magazine, really. The “Year of the Independent Processor” is meant to show how hard the small processor community has worked during this pandemic, largely under the radar. Of course, I couldn’t interview every processor out there, but I spoke with more than a dozen companies. I’m grateful that they took time out of their busy schedules to talk with me.

One thing that everybody had in common was the workload that they were facing. Everybody had seen a surge in business, and their employees were working as hard as possible every day to meet demand. Some of the processors mentioned that they wanted to hire extra help, but not only did they not have the time to interview and train a new employee, but they didn’t want to bring a new person into their existing environment.

Ironically, this is probably the best possible time to be looking for new employees. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, so there has not been such a glut of good and available labor in years. At the same time, companies have taken great pains to keep the Coronavirus out of their workplace, particularly after watching the massive outbreaks at the larger plants. Would you feel safe hiring an experienced butcher if that butcher just left a large plant that has had COVID outbreaks?

Despite the uncertainty in the country at this time, companies must move forward and will have to take advantage of growth opportunities that come their way. That includes staffing up when necessary. Companies will need to figure out a way to bring new people into an existing workplace without exposing their current employees to illness. The world may be vastly different now, but certain tasks will still have to be performed, and bringing new employees into the workplace is one of them. NP