Tony Parra and Janet Bresenham
Most business owners agree: Hard work and customer service have always been the key to any business’ success.
But do area residents demonstrate strong work ethics? Interviews on Labor Day weekend 2003 suggest yes … and no.
Troy Hinton, owner of Portales’ IGA grocery store, said Portales has a strong work ethic in general, but that some young people are still learning the concept.
“Not every job is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he said. “Sometimes we need people for Friday and Saturday nights and they have a hard time realizing that.”
Hinton said his store’s customers count on employees to be prompt and professional.
“Customers require us to be dependable,” he said. “They don’t understand if we are short a cashier or a meat cutter. If you don’t have good work ethic, you won’t keep your job.”
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Eastern New Mexico farmer Seth Martin, who grows about 4,200 acres of wheat and grain sorghum on three sites, said he grew up learning a strong work ethic that he continues today.
“I have three brothers and all four of us worked on the family farm when we were young,” Martin said. “If work needed to be done, you did it. You were expected to do your work.”
But Martin said he has noticed that not everyone shares that attitude.
“It’s hard to find anybody willing to work,” Martin said. “Many people are able to get through life without doing any manual labor. That’s brought a shortage of skilled labor. Farming is not as appealing as it once was, so it’s hard to get any kind of farm labor.”
Part of what deters some people from agriculture is the nature of the work and the demands of the lifestyle, he said.
“You might have a lot of down time in the winter, but in the summer, that’s all we do is work,” Martin said. “These days, people in the workplace expect to be able to get off whenever they want. You can’t do that in farming.”
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Michael Covington, general manager of Master’s Books and Gifts in Clovis, said he believes business owners and supervisors carry a responsibility to instill a good attitude in the workplace.
“If you will just look for the positive in people and tell them about it, they will be better employees,” Covington said. “I think people need to be valued. If you instill trust and respect in someone, you usually get it back. And you can’t expect your staff to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.”
Covington said he also thinks the people who show a good attitude toward service have better success.
“With the standard for work ethic in our culture, it just takes a little more to be above average,” Covington said. “Work ethic needs to be defined not just by the amount of work someone does, but the quality of the work and how customers are treated.”
At the same time, he said, too many Americans have adopted a workaholic attitude and lifestyle and stay so busy they get their priorities out of line.
“Sometimes we work too much,” he said. “There’s an African saying that, ‘Americans have watches on their wrists but no time.’ We need to reprioritize. We have to be careful that we don’t sacrifice everything on the altar of personal success.”