Like many dairy farms across Washington, family is at the heart of Veldhuis Dairies. And to the Veldhuis’s, family is more than a last name—it’s their entire business, from the cows to their dedicated employees.
Ruurd Veldhuis is a third-generation dairyman and co-owns the family farm with his parents and two siblings. One of Ruurd’s priorities when it comes to running the dairy is employee wellness and workforce development.
“Our employees are what keeps the farm running smoothly,” Ruurd says. “We want them to be happy, safe, and feel appreciated for the work they do all year round. But, Christmas gives another opportunity to make our employees feel valued.”
Since 2013, the Veldhuis’s have hosted a holiday party for their 225 employees, and their employees’ families as a way to give back and celebrate the season. From live music and dancing to face-painting, there is something for everyone to get into the holiday spirit. Employees are honored for their years of service in five-year increments and presented with certificates and various gifts.
This year more than 600 people attended the annual gathering.
“This is the most we’ve ever had and we hope to have even more next year,” Ruurd says. “This party is all about getting everyone to have a good time, honor our employees, and celebrate.
Jesus Casas has been employed with the Veldhuis family for five years and has worked his way up to a feed manager role. Jesus attended this year’s party with his wife and appreciates the advancement opportunities at the dairy.
“I like that the Veldhuis family gives us the opportunity to grow by sending us to conferences and other trainings to increase our knowledge and skills on the farm,” Jesus explains. “They create a family-oriented work environment and want to help us grow as employees and as people.”
Like Jesus, almost half of the employees at Veldhuis Dairy have been employed there for at least five years. There are even a number of employees who have been with the farm since the beginning over fifteen years ago.
“I think that speaks a lot to how we run things at our farm,” Ruurd said. “We are pretty easy-going. Family is important to us, and we want it to be important for our employees, so flexibility is key. We always have a few extra people on-hand so that if someone needs to leave early to pick up their kid from school—they’re able to do that.”
Miguel Abundez has worked with the Veldhuis family for 18 years and appreciates the strong family atmosphere.
“There are lots of families working here together, including my son, which contributes to the family aspect of the business,” Miguel says. “The Veldhuis’s are just an awesome family to work with. There’s always an opportunity to learn more, and that’s what has kept me here for all these years.”