2019: Fran Breiter

The Minnesota Pork Board recognized Fran Breiter of Osakis, Minnesota, as this year’s Swine Manager of the Year award recipient on February 4, 2019, at the Hilton Minneapolis.

Managers like Fran Breiter deserve recognition for their efforts in properly managing and connecting with employees to ensure quality individuals choose careers in pig farming and experience career satisfaction and value.

Breiter’s road to a management position occurred fairly rapidly. Not long after being an animal caretaker, he willingly stepped up to help manage the site when his manager was working on other farms to teach incoming leadership. More responsibilities piled on, and he eagerly transitioned into an official manager. Sixteen years later, and he still happily holds this ever-changing position.

His love for sports and the competitiveness that comes with them is what initially attracted him to the job.

“You’re always reaching to do better and be better. In the industry you want to be the best at what you do,” noted Breiter.

The challenge of accomplishing different tasks throughout the day, as well as the organizational aspects of the job, encouraged him. Organization is imperative in a managing position, but Breiter revealed communication as the most important.

“If you can’t listen and communicate with your employees, management, or owners, you are going to struggle as a manager,” Breiter explained. The ability to multitask encompasses the third quality he mentioned that one must possess as a manager.

Breiter said, “You need to know what’s going on in every aspect of the farm, and if there is a fire that needs to be put out, you need to handle it while simultaneously looking after the rest of the farm.”

He tailors much of his success as a manager today to those who managed him when he first started. Questions were encouraged, and his managers patiently answered them. “Sometimes I would ask questions more than once, but my manager stuck with me until I got it, and that

is really how I manage today. There are a lot of things thrown at pig caretakers over the course of a day, and forgetting something, especially in the beginning stages of a job, is inevitable,” Breiter reflected.

Breiter noted, “Teaching people to think for themselves is a big part of managing, and allowing employees to make decisions will inspire them to be the best at what they do.”

Over the course of twenty years working with Protein Sources, Breiter realized managing people can be a daunting task, especially when working with various personality types scattered across all walks of life. As a manager, he prides himself in being patient with each person and teaching them no matter their stage in life.

Training managers and showing them the ropes inspires him to come back to his job every day. It is not a quick process and finding the right person who is willing to learn is difficult. Breiter declares he can teach anyone, but their willingness to learn is a different aspect.

Not only does Breiter believe in community involvement, he also encourages employees to volunteer to grill pork chops at school fundraisers, and most importantly, to have fun at work. Breiter stated, “The community events create a time away from work where everyone gets to hang out together. We try to create a family type of atmosphere so people want to come to work and get along with each other.”

“There is value in what every employee does, and if you can work through some of their weaknesses and develop them, it’s a great reward,” Breiter stated. “One of the joys of my job is seeing people advance.”