TAKING ADVANTAGE: Flores’s Career Built on Making the Most of Every Opportunity
By Caleb Hicks
When it comes to opportunities, Jorge Flores has had his fair share. As the fresh superintendent for Wayne Farms in Union Springs, the opportunity to educate employees is something he holds dear.
“Everything in the poultry industry provides an opportunity,” said Flores, who has been with Wayne Farms for eight years. “My job includes training and educating our employees to be as efficient as possible when processing birds in the line and making sure no product is wasted. I try to establish a connection with them so we all understand why we’re here.”
Born in Costa Rica to a French mother and Costa Rican father, Flores came to boarding school in Arkansas in 1970 after finishing eighth grade because his parents wanted him to receive good educational opportunities.
“Both my parents were strong believers in education, and I am as well,” Flores said. “I believe it’s the key for success. If you want to be a painter, learn how to be the best painter. Don’t be a helper; be a leader, whether it’s in the poultry industry or something else.”
Flores has been involved in the agricultural industry for his entire career. After pursuing a bachelor’s in agronomy and a master’s in seed technology from Mississippi State University, he moved back to Costa Rica and went to work with Del Monte, as part of a team that gathered technology from Hawaii to develop the pineapple cultivar sold in supermarkets today.
He then returned to the States and worked in Florida’s mushroom industry for several decades before landing at Wayne Farms in 2013.
Flores said his heritage is what drives him.
“My mother and her family left France when she was 5 years old and landed in Cuba before coming to the U.S. and finally ending up in Costa Rica,” he said. “She didn’t come in a jet; she came in a boat. I often think about her voyage, and I have a lot of gratitude that my voyage wasn’t as hard as hers was.
“I’ve only been on a cruise, which is a much different experience than what my mother had during WWI.”
Flores appreciates not only the opportunities he’s been given, but also the opportunities he has been able to provide others throughout his career, especially in the poultry industry.
“What I’ve wanted to do is teach, share and create experiences with people,” Flores said. “I’ve always wanted to make people wiser and better than me and grow overall. Rather than starting with a pen in the poultry industry, we start with a knife. For us, the knife is the pen in our pocketbook. The more efficient we are, the more product we can provide.
“You can come to the poultry industry, start out on the processing line and eventually become a manager, if you stick with it. We can develop their skills. All they have to do is want it.”
Most of all, though, Flores said that as he approaches retirement age, leaving his four children, seven grandchildren and wife with the means to create their own opportunities is a blessing to him.
“I have been blessed,” he said. “My children are grown now, and I’ve been able to build a nest for them. They see all that. The way they have grown gives me peace of mind, and, to me, that’s one of the most important things I can have as I get closer to retiring in August.
“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing after I retire, but I know I’m going to be productive.”