An Evolutionary Fresh Start

July 03, 2013
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Partha Kundu has learned the value of people-centric leadership at many different points along his career path, which began as a first-generation immigrant to the US.

To this day, creating opportunities for people is a pillar of his leadership philosophy.

Partha shared his story with me during a recent gathering of business leaders who live the belief that caring for people is the right thing to do and a vital component to creating a thriving business.

He left India for the US in 1989 to pursue a Master’s degree, arriving with only $760 in his pocket, intense desire to work hard, and dreams of success.

Recently, Partha’s team commenced initial operations at Starbucks newest manufacturing facility, an Evolution Fresh juice plant in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The plant’s first line is up and running, and construction is on schedule to make the plant fully operational later in the fall.

The new plant, built under Partha’s leadership as Starbucks head of manufacturing, demonstrates the commitment to people that he and Starbucks share.

After Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh, Partha seized the opportunity to preserve the plant’s jobs while building a bigger, more efficient plant nearby.

That meant finding a location in Southern California within driving distance for all their partners, as Starbucks calls its employees.

“Many companies would choose to build a new facility to be closer to raw materials or in a part of the country where the tax incentives are better. Locating the new plant in Southern California kept it close to fresh fruits and vegetables, which was just as important a priority as choosing a location that was close enough that our partners could keep their jobs,” said Partha.

Starbucks new $70 million Evolution Fresh juice plant is within 20 miles of the old facility, which will allow most of its partners to remain with the company when operations fully transition to the new location later in the fall.

It is four times the size of the original plant and is anticipated to produce four times the volume of juice. However, a safer, more-advanced, conveniently-located facility was not all that Starbucks offered Evolution’s workforce.

“We brought their compensation and benefits in line with the rest of the Starbucks organization, and we were able to offer many temporary workers—some who had been temporary for years—full-time positions,” Partha explained.

Partha says he is honored to be given the opportunity to bring Starbucks vision into reality. For him, the new juice plant fulfills his dream of providing opportunities for those he leads.

“Starbucks recognizes the link between taking care of its people and communities, and building a thriving business,” he  said. “Leadership is a privilege and with that privilege comes an immense responsibility to take care of your partners.”

Leaders like Partha and organizations like Starbucks, fiercely committed to people-centric leadership, are examples of a growing number who are enriching lives through business.

By sharing these stories and working collectively to increase the volume about business’ power to positively impact lives (“A Mountain of Hope,” June 19, 2013), we should all be encouraged that Truly Human Leadership will someday be the norm rather than the exception.

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