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Only People Can Have Passion For Excellence

QUESTION: In the pineapple-growing industry today, Del Monte Plantation is definitely the best in its class. Could you tell us the secret of your success?

MPL (Marco P. Lorenzo, Plantation Operations): You become the best in your class if you outdo all the others in key areas of competition and become the benchmark of excellence. The challenges we face at Del Monte Plantation are basically the same as those confronting any other pineapple plantation in the world. But we have responded to them more effectively.

What are some of these challenges? We must grow pineapple of the finest quality. That means pineapple that's outstanding as fresh fruit and as material for food processing. We must produce the fruit in quantities that meet targets and requirements and at the lowest cost. We must continue to improve the quality of our process, never resting on our achievements.

And, most important, we must grow the quality of our people even as we grow the world's best pineapple.

We have mastered every challenge and surpassed our company's great expectations because we have “grown” outstanding people who possess the necessary skills and knowledge and proper attitude towards their work. They live and breathe quality. They are committed to making the plantation the benchmark in the pineapple growing industry.

Q: Our people at Plantation are happy and proud to be part of your organization because you treat them like family. What are you doing to promote family life?

MPL: Our plantation workers are indeed my family and Del Monte Plantation is our home. Everything that affects them affects me - their physical and emotional health, their spiritual life, the welfare of their children, their financial concerns, the peace and order situation in their communities, the quality of community life.

Plantation Management reaches out to every plantation family through our team of camp administrators. We have strengthened our camp administrative system and reordered its priorities. Our emphasis now is on reinforcing family solidarity by upholding traditional values and teaching families to appreciate each other more deeply. The family programs we've developed - from home beautification to value Education - involve every member of the family.

Sports are at the core of our family development program. Note that I said “family.” It's not only the youth that we involve in sports. Every able-bodied member of our big Plantation

Family joins this program. That's how we take the minds of our young people away from drugs. That's also how we build teamwork and community spirit.

Q: One of the great things you have done is restore our plantation workers' sense of celebration. At the diamond anniversary celebration in Plantation, everyone marveled at the spectacle of entire communities coming out to celebrate the occasion.

MPL: A family that plays together, prays together, honors tradition together, and celebrates success together stays together. Hard work is just one side of the coin of community life. The other side is celebration.

In our camp fiestas, we celebrate our unity and the many special favors we have received from God - our good health, peace in our homes, and the fullness of our personal lives. We also celebrate and give thanks for the many successes of our company, the biggest of which is growing a big heart that feels deeply for its people.

Our company's diamond jubilee became, to us, an occasion to dramatize the historic role Del Monte has played in the social and economic growth of Northern Mindanao. But I think we also saw it as a good time to pause for a reminder. We reminded ourselves that many generations of workers before us, many of them our own kin, had experienced the goodness and kindness of the company. That was a good reason for entire communities to come out and celebrate, don't you think?

Q: You have given community relations a shot in the arm, making Del Monte Plantation an active partner of the communities around our areas of operation in total development. What's your view of community relations?

MPL: It's basically people relations because communities and institutions are made up of people. We have open lines of communication with local governments, non-government organizations, civic groups, and individuals willing to be our partners in community development.

We show genuine concern by sharing our resources including the most important ones, people, to support key countryside programs. We are involved in livelihood skill development, health and nutrition education, drug abuse and crime prevention, sports training, and environmental protection. We reach out to those who need our help and we teach them how to help themselves.

Q: What are your plans for Del Monte Plantation?

MPL: It's not good enough to be the benchmark of productivity and quality in the pineapple-growing industry. We must continue to lead the world in this regard. We must always be “best in class.”

We will be open to every new technology that can help us improve production and productivity. And we're not just talking of farming technology but also equipment and systems to upgrade our support services. But most important of all, we will continue to grow our workforce because technology cannot replace the human mind. Only people, not machines, can have the passion for excellence.

Finally, let me say this: never rest on your laurels. We must always guard ourselves against complacency if we want to stay at the top of our class.

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