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Mariposa Dairy struggles to find young adults who want to work five days a week
Bruce Vandenberg, Mariposa Dairy.

Mariposa Dairy struggles to find young adults who want to work five days a week

in Business/Community by

Have jobs, will train. One of the Lindsay area’s largest private employers, Mariposa Dairy, is having trouble finding committed employees who want to work a full five days a week – at least in the 18-35 age bracket.

Bruce Vandenberg, owner of Mariposa Dairy along with his wife, Sharon, estimates that 30-40 per cent of the younger people they hire as general labourers don’t work out, mainly because of “misplaced priorities,” according to Vandenberg.

The business owner says his rule of thumb is “God first, family second, job third, and social life fourth.”

“If you get those mixed up there’s bound to be a problem – and I can tell you it’s not usually the first and the second priorities that they’re getting wrong,” Vandenberg says.

The business owner employs about 105 people in full time jobs and another 20-30 people in part-time roles. He uses a temp agency only when he needs people fast for a short period of time.

Vandenberg pays $2 above minimum wage and expects to do that even when the mandatory minimum wage hikes come into play on Jan. 1, 2018, and on Jan. 1 2019. (By Jan. 1, 2019, minimum wage in Ontario will be $15 an hour.)

“I have to be able to look an employee in the eye and be satisfied with the wage I’m paying them for the work they do,” says Vandenberg.

The dairy business owner says there is plenty of room to grow with the company but he often has trouble finding younger people who are committed to their work.

“We’ve had people with real potential, but they seem to have an issue with being able to work an entire five-day week,” Vandenberg tells The Lindsay Advocate.

This can be anything from “sleeping in” too often or “partying in Oshawa” or elsewhere and then somehow not having a ride back to make it to work, he says.

This seems to back up what Carol Timlin of Victoria County Career Services (VCCS) told The Lindsay Advocate earlier this month, in that many young people she deals with seem to be reticent to take on full-time employment.

“In the last couple of years I am hearing more and more about anxiety and anxiety disorders that young people seem to be facing,” she said.

“Many don’t seem to think they can handle full-time work,” Timlin added.

Vandenberg says it has nothing to do with specific skills needed that potential employees are missing, because Mariposa Dairy provides all the training.

If Fleming College can’t help with specific skills, then, The Advocate asked what the local school board could do to help. Vandenberg said, “Let them fail.”

“We have a whole generation raised without consequences,” he says, pointing out that even assignments don’t even necessarily come with due dates anymore, as long as they’re in by the end of the semester.

He says if students had real consequences – not just from schools, but by their parents, too – then maybe he wouldn’t be dealing with the challenges he now has.

While he says he has some “great younger people” who work for him, there are too many who can’t make their job a priority.

Basic Income

While Vandenberg is not a fan of a lot of social welfare programs, he thinks that basic income will be different, and therefore welcomes the pilot program in Lindsay. Since people on basic income will still be able to earn some money on top of their usual earnings, he expects it will work to incentivize people.

People in the pilot could receive up to $16,989 per year for a single person and up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income. Those with a disability would receive up to an additional $500 per month.

The Company

Vandenberg is running a $30 million company, with 70 per cent of that money staying within 100 km of Lindsay. About 80 per cent stays within Ontario.

The dairy operation’s goat cheese products are shipped all across Canada and the USA, with plans for overseas’ sales in the works.

Mariposa Dairy struggles to find young adults who want to work five days a week
The original cheese vat from their goat farm, where it all started.

Mariposa Dairy got its beginning in the former Mariposa Township of Victoria County, the former City of Kawartha Lakes. The business moved from a farmstead plant to a factory operation in Lindsay. Since that time, from operating a simple goat farm to today, they have grown 70 times in 12 years.

The business sells exclusively to wholesalers so they can focus on manufacturing the products, rather than marketing. The ‘Celebrity’ goat cheese brand is their largest and most well-known product.

Vandenberg says they will be moving forward with automation as much as possible to stay competitive, but that this shouldn’t mean job losses because the company has great growth projections.

“If anything, we’ll be adding more jobs” from where we are now, he says.

The dairy operation owner says their secret to success is that he and his wife, Sharon, always said ‘yes’ to what seemed to be new and good opportunities they worked hard to create.

“We also worked with great people in the community.”

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

23 Comments

  1. Quite the success story and a great chance for our younger generation to be able to work in such a nice clean place. Good luck in the future for all to come.

  2. Well, their problem is clearly an out of date, old fashioned approach. “God first, family second, job third, and social life fourth.”? Most Millenials don’t even believe in god, as region declines more and more each decade. We also know now that using a European work model (4 days of work/ 3 days off) creates more productivity and less demoralized workers than a traditional North American work week. This generation is also more commited to their mental health than previous generations. Which can be frustrating for an employer, but is a good thing for society. Times are changing and you must, too.

    • LMAO! if you really believe that, then you wouldn’t last 2 days in Alberta or Saskatchewan. you’re lucky to get anything less than 5 days per week if you work full time, and if you get triggered from a little bit of stress, you would think we’re all goddamned barbarians or mentally f-ed up in the head. And I wouldn’t say it’s “frustrating” for employers because this generation is “committed to mental health”, but because this generation won’t do the basic thing of showing up and doing their job. Employers would be overjoyed if the sensitive little snowflakes stayed home and people who wanted to work hard were the ones applying, and even employees would be less stressed if they had co-workers that actually contributed and didn’t slack off while crying about their “mental health”. Trust me. I’ve been there with other employees, and I had to work a tonne of hours precisely because of employees like that, and my bosses are frustrated to no end because of employees like that, so if these little sensitive babies don’t like to work, then they should stay the hell out of the way for people who do and give the ones who do want to work a much better chance at getting hired, and I’m sure an employer would much rather have 4 interviews with 4 highly motivated people than 10 interviews with 6 of them trying to impose arbitrary restrictions.

      • Quit reading when I saw “Snowflake”. Name calling will get you no where. Stop crying about others and look in the mirror.

        • LMAO! I said the exact same thing to my co-workers who pulled that crap, and so had my boss. When they started pulling that crap, they start to wonder why they get fewer shifts, their co-workers stop helping them out with other tasks, and nobody really wants to talk to them. usually one of two things will happen: they will take their ball and go somewhere else, or they learn that employers and their co-workers won’t tolerate that crap, and they start doing they are supposed to do. But yeah. I’m definitely crying into my wads of 20’s, 50’s and hundreds over some sensitive person running out the door screaming and crying because our boss expected them to work. lol!(don’t worry. I’ll avoid using the dreaded “S” word, so you can’t use that excuse to run away offended. lol!)

          I took your advice and looked in the mirror. Do you know what was staring back at me? a driven, hard working, determined human being that doesn’t get offended or throw tempertantrums over having to work hard for what I have, and does what needs to be done without whining about it. When I look in the mirror, I can say that I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and what kind of Man I am, so I don’t know what you’re getting at here. Perhaps you heard that from somebody somewhere and thought it would have the same impact on somebody who is actually getting somewhere in life and proud of what they have accomplished? That’s the biggest difference between people who earn a living and people who expect a handout for a living, Caz.

    • Finally someone with some sense in a comment thread! Could not have said it better.

      I give you that thumbs up as a 28 yr old who works 70hrs a week on average, haven’t had a day off in months or a vacation in years. But I do this because I am a professional in two fields so I have a reason to be so committed. I live in the West as well so for me $13 seems like fair wage for maybe a teenager with no experience… Not anyone else. So if we look at the demographic willing to work for so little money we see youngsters who need some money but realistically don’t need alot of money. We see young people who prefer their free time and who probably don’t really care about dairy production and don’t plan on devoting too much time to something unimportant to the rest of their life.

      • yeah. 13$ per hour is what alot of retailers were paying when the minimum wage was atill about 10$ per hour because of the demand. some places like fort mcmurray were paying 18$ per hour for those very same jobs. yeah, 13$ wouldn’t cut it in places like Edmonton or calgary(definitely not vancouver), but smaller towns it’s actually doable to live off 13$ per hour because cost of living in the smaller towns are dirt cheap.

        I agree with you on the aspect of free time as well. a lot of younger people do find a social life quite important, but that’s where the skill of scheduling comes in. Obviously they chouldn’t be working every day all day and not have any semblence of a social life, but definitely not be calling in sick because they got drunk the night before when they know they had to work. I think the later is what Bruce is trying to get at, and this quote proves that point: “This can be anything from “sleeping in” too often or “partying in Oshawa” or elsewhere and then somehow not having a ride back to make it to work”

    • That’s true. The young people don’t have the same priorities. Employer maybe should only hire someone who has same beliefs has they do. Maybe first question asked in the interview

  3. Maybe Bruce should get with the times. He wants to hire people to work 5 days/week, but not full-time so he can avoid having to provide any benefits. There are hardly any full-time jobs out there anymore, even less with the benefits (coverage, sick days, etc) that an older generation took for granted, so most people work 2 or more part-times. This was me – when I first worked for this family, it was extremely difficult to juggle 2 jobs – even though I had been with my other employer for much longer, I was expected to make this one my priority. So when Bruce says that he can’t find young people to work 5 days a week, what he should be saying is that they’re not willing to risk their other jobs to be available for one at the drop of a hat. And VCCS… Don’t get me started! A few years ago, I was out of college, working 3 part-time/casual jobs, barely getting 20 hours a week, so naturally I went to VCCS for help… They told me to rework my resume, but that was really all they wanted to do for me. They weren’t interested in helping me find gainful employment at all – they only care about those who come in with no job at all. Don’t get me wrong, I am a supporter of local business and this company is great for the local economy, but there are major improvements that could be made. On the whole, this article is a poor, narrow-minded view of a younger generation – young people work more, get paid less, and have less opportunity for growth and stability than any generation since the great depression, yet for some reason the older generations think the opposite.

    • Megan, in your experience with Mariposa Dairy were you employed through a temp agency, or just regular part-time or regular full-time? Thank you…

      • My experience with the business was on the farm side, not the dairy. I worked there for two summers during college (starting when I was 19), and a few years later when I was about 23. I was initially hired part-time due to networking (through mutual contacts), and a few years later was employed again through an advertisement in This Week, getting mostly full-time hours. Overall, these employers treated me well enough, but there were definite improvements or better decisions that could have been made, and I have knowledge of other employees being mismanaged or treated unfairly, though it’s not my place to speak to that. When Bruce sees young people being lazy, unstructured, and unreliable, he is only seeing what he wants to see, like many people of older generations. I worked like a dog on that farm – I left 10, 12, 14 hour shifts exhausted, but I worked every minute of that day. A majority of the workers there at that time were young people. None of us slacked off. Part of my struggle with this is that so few employers, the Vandenburgs included, hire full-time. I am lucky now to be employed full-time in the field of my education, a job with benefits and vacation and sick days, but this is by far NOT the norm. Most employers hire part-time or casual. They might give you full-time hours if you are willing and available to take them, but not the benefits that come with full-time employment. Because of that, people have more than one job, which makes them less available for both. The employer doesn’t see, or care, why they aren’t available to take that shift – they just hear the “no.” Maybe if they offered full-time, they would have more committed employees? Just a thought.

        • Thank you, Megan. Precarious work is certainly a big issue these days — jobs that are part-time, temp, or contract, often without benefits. Mariposa Dairy has 105 FT positions and only 20-30 PT. You’ve given me food for thought for a future article though, thank you.

    • I can confirm what you’re saying about the VCCS. I used them in 2006, and yeah..I had my resume fixed up and had my interview skills worked on, but I also got my last job through them(part time), and they can only do so much when there’s a severe shortage of full time jobs. That’s not the fault of the VCCS.

      However, after my resume was fixed up and I moved out west, it actually made finding a job much easier,too. I got my current job within a few days, and it was only that because I had a few job offers to consider, and was still handing out resumes. I didn’t even have them all handed out before my phone was blowing up with calls. Hell, when I came back for a couple months in 2007, that very same resume found my a job in lindsay for a bit,too. So, don’t count out the power of having a decent resume and interview skills, because the guy that helped me at the VCCS pointed out a few things that I have never considered on my resume.

      As for the people with no jobs……….yeah. that’s kind of their priority because they are much easier to employ and are the ones in the most dire need of help. I wouldn’t expect them to completely ignore the ones with no jobs to make the ones with 2 jobs a priority, because their main point is to help people find jobs.

  4. Good afternoon.

    Just a small reply to the artical I have just read about Mariposa dairy. I worked through an agency for them when they where still at the old location loved my work experience with them and when I applied for actual employment they turned me down so as far as them saying they can’t find people to work a steady 5 days a week I say stop being so picky and take a better look at what could turn out to be one of the commited people that could work for your company.

    Thank you

  5. With the judgemental attitude that sounds like he’s only read critiques about young people today, not actually gotten to know any, no wonder they don’t stick around. With this long winded rant of clichés I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had blamed avocado toast and Snapchat.

    If you want to hire young people, publishing a rant online generalizing about how over-privileged they all are isn’t going to attract any of the smart ones. They’d know to stay the heck away.

  6. I read this article and see exactly where Bruce is coming from. Without a religious bone in my body I believe you go to work do the job they pay you to do to the best of your ability and go home safely at the end of the day knowing you did your job well. I walk around my job and hear people young and old complain about the most petty things at times and about other workers around them. Not being very old myself but I have worked since straight out of high school with summer jobs before, I can see how the younger generation has drastically changed their work ethic. It seems they think they are entitled to grand wages, benefits ect, when the job they do doesn’t even come close to dictating a large wage. Some jobs just don’t pay well and sometimes there is a reason for that. Pay your dues, work to the best of your abilty and a good employer should see potential and maybe they will give you the chance you deserve. Ive seen enough good and bad, willing and not, young and old employees to know there are people out there not willing to do a decent job for pathetic reasons.

    • I’ve worked with mariposa in the past through staffing connection. I had very little problems making my shifts on time and i nearly filled all of my 500 hours with staffing connection before i was barred from getting hours and i was moved to work with deltro electric, made to fill another 500 hours with another company. This was in 2015 when they were moving over to their new factory. I am again working at mariposa through staffing connection to fill hours because the market is slow for my current line of work. I recently resigned from my current dead end job i’ve held for a year and a half for personal reasons… all im saying is theirs perfectly capable people looking for good fulltime work who already work for you. I even know people looking for the one thing that matters most to….. this millenial at least… job security… if theirs very little chance i can work for a pension.

      At least i can work for a company thats growing and hopefully wont fire someone after 3 months… heres looking at you Armada. I’ve never worked for them but boy the amount of people i’ve talked to with the same story. If society is bitching about lazy millenials… sorry but i gotta fire back. 3 month flyers are not worth lifting a finger for ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY. When theirs way too many employers that’ll hire someone for less then 3 months and no matter how hard you bend to their will they’ll dump you before that mark. I think the lesson to take away from this is the problem of lazy millenials is only a reflection of the 3 month flyers. What goes around, comes around. Happy capitalism

      • But Roderick or whomever assures us that they are “desperate” for workers! I’ve heard the exact same thing about various businesses,too. the reason why they boot them before 3 months is because that’s the grace period you can boot somebody for ANY reason before the booting has to be justified.

  7. In the interests of clarity:

    For the Mariposa Dairy story, nowhere does it say they are desperate for workers. The owners point out that “30-40 per cent of the younger people they hire as general labourers don’t work out.”

    That’s the main thrust of this particular story.

    In a follow-up column on Oct. 26th, ‘Desire or pressure: What motivates us to get out of bed and work?’ I point out that a veteran advertising representative said he is hearing this wherever he goes in the region (and outside of Kawartha Lakes as well). Employers, for whatever reason, aren’t finding the people (or # of people) that they need.

  8. That “booting” also serves as a protective shield against other legal factors like bringing “severence” into play and “having a clear justifyable reason” to let someone go into the picture. Some people would find that they loose a great deal of control after that 3 month mark….. the employment picture changes after 3 months and cements a new employee with legal rights. Now, their are good employers out there like my last one who was as desperate for a driver as i was for a semi-stable job, little did i know i was doing something illegal working for them. Good employers that respect the way the world works and allows people to stay on after 3 months. And theirs MANY employers out there who keep rolling people over after 3 months, thats a system they work with and thats what works best for them… with soo many of them out there, who is worth waking up to work for??

    I would love someone to hit me up and ask for my story because i have way too much to gripe about and fit it all into a comment box and still feel like i’ve held onto a readers attention. After i finnished highschool i worked for a local casino for 8 years, i was let go 8 years after about 5 years ago. I’ve been to roughly 8 jobs in that time one of them in BC and another in Alberta. Im definitly not a sit-around-do-NOTHING waiting for my welfare cheque. Im trying to go out and look for work, wake up at 5am to commute 2 hours for a 10 hour shift, do anything im told to the best of my abilities. I hear way too much about lazy and entittled millenials, and i agree, lots of millenials either get it easy somehow and they become way too entittled. Or employers look at somes simple request, blow it up huge in their mind as being entittled before even thinking to conversate further. but i swear, it drives me nuts to hear nobody talk about the problem from the other side.. my real question to the public is, whos honestly worth working for?

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