Focusing on Health and Wellness

Algood Food Company
Written by Jen Hocken

Algood Food Company is a producer of high-quality peanut butter, jams, jellies, and preserves in Kentucky and provides private-label packaging services to various markets including retail, industrial, food service, contract manufacturing, and the U.S. Government.

And it goes a lot further – Algood is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky where its manufacturing facility produces peanut butter. The Company has a second location in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, where they produce jams, jellies, preserves, and spreads.

Algood Food Company’s retail customers are chains, wholesalers, and buying cooperatives, and its industrial customers are manufacturers who use peanut butter as a filling or coating in combination with other products. (In retail, the private-label packaging covers the spectrum from 12-ounce jars to 5-pound containers, and for industrial customers, from 25-pound pails to 2,800-pound totes of peanut butter!)

Building on peanut butter
But to get to the story – in 1985, Cecil “Barney” Barnett purchased the Louisville plant from a division of the Beatrice Companies and created the Algood Food Company. In 1992, the second location in Lawrenceburg was established and the company continued to grow. By 2002, Algood relocated its Louisville facility to a nearby location and constructed a 100,000 square-foot plant to meet steadily increasing demand.

In 2015, this same facility was expanded by 68,000 square feet, allowing for some rapid growth and the introduction of single-serve squeeze pouch and cup packaging lines. Most recently, in 2018, Algood built a 210,000 square-foot warehouse near the Louisville manufacturing site to store finished goods pending shipment to customers.

Despite growing the number of staff to 320 over the years, the family-owned company has kept its close-knit atmosphere. In typical Algood fashion, as about 10 percent of the team is made up of people whose primary language is Spanish, Algood began sponsoring on-site English classes in 2018. The outcome was improved communication between employees, which prompted the company to go a step further and this year offer Spanish classes to the English speaking employees that are interested.

As you could expect, from these actions, Algood has a strong open-door policy all the way to the President of the Company. The Company encourages employees to come forward with ideas and asks them not to hesitate if there is an issue that needs to be ventilated. A few years ago, the company began recognizing milestone anniversaries within its team every quarter. Employees are rewarded with a gift card of a value based on their years of service with the Kentucky company.

Ways to wellness
Algood promotes a healthy balance of work and life to all its staff and believes that quality of work improves when individuals feel valued. Its Alwell Wellness program has taken off and truly become a part of the company’s identity.

“Our saying behind our wellness program is that we try to meet employees where they are on their wellness journey. We offer things like sponsored walks, health coaching, acupuncture, Weight Watchers on-site, and we also use the Humana Go365 app to help people on their wellness journey,” explains Kelly Zeilman, Vice President of Human Resources at Algood.

Go365 by Humana is a wellness and rewards program that allows employees to win prizes while reaching health goals. The company participation rate is 60 percent, which is high compared to other users of the program.

As a result of the many steps Algood has taken to improve the health and wellness of its employees, the Worksite Wellness Council of Louisville has recognized Algood with its Fleur de Lis award. This award is given to companies that meet all criteria for a wellness program and have proven their success by sharing numbers and statistics that support their continued improvement. Algood won the highest award for large companies in the state of Kentucky for making significant improvements in a company wellness program.

Volunteers for good
The Alwell Wellness program also strongly encourages charity and volunteerism. Algood has a team of roughly 20 employees that engages in a program with a local church in Louisville. Each Friday, they drive around a series of schools picking up leftover food that would otherwise go to waste at the week’s end. Once delivered to the church, the food is handed out that same afternoon to those in need within the community.

Algood has participated in this program for three years with all involved finding the experience of personally giving back to the community very rewarding.

The company’s leaders established this approach to volunteer work early in the company’s history. “Our President is very big on supporting different organizations in the community,” explains Brittany Timberlake, Executive Assistant at Algood Food Company. “Our founder, Mr. Barnett, was a big supporter of Simmons College, which is a small, historically black college here in Louisville.” In 2018 he surprised every graduate with a gift of $1,000. Mr. Barnett, along with his wife Gillian, also pledged $4 million to the school in February of 2019.

Another organization Algood has invested in is Candy for Caring. Algood donates peanut butter that is made into candy, and funds generated from the candy go back into helping the community. The company has a long list of community churches, schools, and charities that it continues to support. The Plant Manager of the Louisville facility for Algood Food Company, A.J. Taulbee, says, “I’m always amazed at the generosity and the charitable nature of Algood Food Company and its owners.”

Supporting women in manufacturing
Support for another kind of worthy activity is that given to Women in Manufacturing (WiM), an organization in the United States that supports and inspires women involved in manufacturing industries. “Many times in organizations you see women compare themselves to each other and sometimes [they] can be very critical. What we’ve tried to convey through getting involved with WiM is that we need to support and lift each other up as women, instead of pulling each other down. We really need to be there and encourage each other as much as we can,” says Zeilman.

As a member of WiM, Algood provides a workplace culture of inclusiveness that motivates women to work together rather than the opposite. Approximately 35 percent of the management and executive staff at Algood are female, and the women of Algood enjoy coming together, well equipped with popcorn and snacks, to watch the WiM webinars.

With that percentage of female executive staff members, Algood is atypical of manufacturing and has become a role model in the industry. Employees appreciate the leadership’s unique methods and enjoy sharing the company’s successes with other WiM members. “The more that we listen to those in other manufacturing organizations, [the more] we take pride in it because we realize how diverse and inclusive our culture is,” says Taulbee.

Honoring the founder
Tragically, Barney Barnett, founder of Algood, passed away suddenly on April 15th of this year, a momentous event for the family-owned company. Family members in the leadership team felt this unexpected change in command called for a moment of stepping back, in his honor, to redefine the core values of the company.

And the company’s business carries on, in the way Barney Barnett would have wanted. The private label company recently created its first branded peanut butter. “Our new product launch is Windstone Farms portable peanut butter packets,” says Taulbee. “These single-serve pouches are available in Walmart stores. We think this is a really great addition to our product line. It is something new for us and we are really excited about the future growth of our single serve cups as well.”

With a talented and engaged workforce, Algood is committed to meeting and exceeding both internal and external standards. Timberlake explains, “We continue to search for strategies and opportunities that add value. Just part of our history is that we were the first private label manufacturer to receive an SQF certification at a peanut butter facility, and the first to use a fully staffed in-house micro lab.

“We were also the first to convert from glass to PET jars, so innovation has always been a top priority since Algood’s inception.” In addition, it is clear that Algood has numerous long-term relationships with its customers, suppliers, and vendors, enabling it to reduce costs and improve quality and consistency.

Staying at the forefront
Community outreach, involvement with WiM, and the policy of supporting its employees through its wellness program will remain priorities at Algood as it continues to grow. Adding to this, Algood is pushing to expand its research and development efforts by collaborating with carefully-chosen partners in the industry.

As Algood Food Company drives forward with consistent improvement of its products and packaging, its ultimate goal remains: to be the leading private-label manufacturer of peanut butter, jams, jellies, and preserves in the United States.

Timberlake sums it up: “We all take a lot of pride in striving to be number one in those categories – peanut butter, jams, jellies, and preserves – and we’ll continue to reinvest in our facility and our people, and deliver a high-quality product to our customers.”



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