A child of the 60s and 70s, and a lifelong resident of Mt. Sterling, Doug Hammer grew up surrounded by Dot Foods. His childhood home was just a few blocks from the Tracy house and some days he’d see more company trucks on his hometown streets than cars.
So when he turned 16 and needed some extra gas-in-the-tank spending cash, the teenager marched confidently into the Dot Foods lobby and asked if the warehouse was hiring.
“They weren’t interested,” he said. “So that was my first rejection from Dot.”
Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the last Dot Foods heard of Doug Hammer.
Doug attended college to study farming in hopes that he could build a career in agriculture. But his family came upon hard financial times in the early 1980s and Doug had to do something to pay the bills.
So ten years after his “first rejection” Doug found his way back to Dot.
“Someone from Dot asked if I was looking for a job and I told him I probably should be. They asked when I could start and I said I could start the next day,” he said.
So the next morning, Doug arrived bright and early to start picking cases, unloading trucks, and operating a forklift. Given the laxed warehouse training programs of the time, Doug picked it up as quickly as he could.
“I had to move 55 gallon drums and roll them onto a pallet and it was tough since I wasn’t very big. I asked how to do it and they said ‘you’ll figure it out’. And that was our training back in the day.”
Doug did figure it out eventually. He also figured out that Dot might be more than just a place he could make ends meet while he waited for something better to come along.
1988 was a big year for both Dot and Doug. Dot cut the ribbon on its brand new, state-of-the-art headquarters. And Doug realized that this part-time job he took on a whim could actually turn itself into an honorable and lucrative career. He quit farming and made the full-time switch to Dot Foods.
“I remember we’d come over and see this building being built and remember thinking we’d never need that much space,” he said. “And we had no idea it would ever turn into something like this.”
Today, Doug serves as director of Dot Foods’ frozen warehouse, which stands ironically on the very land he and his brothers used to farm. One of the most tenured members of any Dot warehouse, Doug has seen arguably more operational, and technological changes than anyone.
“When I started, we took Steno notepads and hung them on the racks to write down where we put product. It wasn’t a good system. The technology we have today with homegrown apps is amazing.”
But if you ask Doug what the best part of his years in the Dot Foods warehouse has been, you’ll find it’s much deeper than switching from analog to digital.
“People say the people are the reason they love Dot and I agree. The best memory has been the people I’ve met. A lot of people come through and get promoted. Some go onto bigger and better things. But getting to know the people has been one of the best parts. These relationships have meant a lot to me,” he said.
Though his 16-year-old self might not have seen it, Dot was the place Doug could thrive and built his life.
“I took this job until I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But once I realized what was going on with the growth potential and culture, everything really fit me. I enjoyed that. I got married, started raising kids, coaching softball, doing lots of things. Next thing you know you’ve been here 37 years. Just like that.”