Why Hiring Veterans is Great News for Companies
Meet Kirk Butler from Nestlé Waters and be prepared to wish he was your colleague
On Kirk’s first day at Poland Spring there was 37 inches of snow on the ground. Most of us would have hightailed it to a blanket and scenic window, but Kirk didn’t want to be late. He arrived at 4:00 a.m. and grabbed a shovel. Since he wasn’t on employee lists yet, he hadn’t received the memo that the facility was closed for the day due to the snow. When other employees arrived the next day, Kirk’s shoveling had given them a safe path. From his very first moment as a Nestlé employee, Kirk was going above and beyond to have the backs of his colleagues.
Before joining us at Nestlé, Kirk sustained an injury while serving in Iraq, ultimately requiring two surgeries. After preparing for a military career his whole life, he faced the scary proposition of needing to find a new path. He was left unemployed for nearly two years while undergoing rehabilitation. At the same time, Nestlé was developing Project Opportunity, focused on helping American workers thrive. Then, in partnership with Orion International, Nestlé asked Kirk to come to Maine and leverage the leadership he learned as a military officer — transitioning those skills and applying them to the civilian workforce.
Kirk had spent years becoming a leader- attending military boarding school, joining the army at age 17, being a key leader in the Hurricane Katrina operations, and serving as a support operations officer on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am always seeking to be successful in helping others first. That is a driver for success with me,” said Kirk.
Kirk’s sincere passion for Nestlé Waters empowers him to take an active leadership role. Whether it’s landscaping, outside groundwork, electronic signage, line painting, recruiting, community job development, water donation, internship development, or volunteer work, Kirk feels that being a role model and an example inspires those on his teams to join hands and become difference makers themselves.
“My story of living out of Project Opportunity is having a second chance at a second career with Nestlé. I sustained a major knee injury while deployed in Iraq, an injury that forced me to leave a military career that I had prepared my whole life for. Nestlé offered me an opportunity to transition my military skills and leadership, and learn a new career field, all while enabling me to develop highly trained employees.”
— Kirk Butler, Nestlé Waters North America
Nestlé proudly supported Kirk’s adapting to a new career. “My Human Resources (HR) Manager and leadership team here at Poland Spring have helped me use the areas that I’m strong in to improve the overall performance of the factory and shipping departments,” said Kirk, “my HR Manager has taken a vast amount of time to sit and help me develop action plans for success, and help me attain certain goals for my career development,” said Kirk.
Kirk’s development with Nestlé doesn’t just stop when the work day ends. Kirk embodies Poland Spring’s commitment to community engagement, coaching track for Poland Regional High School. He’s also a passionate supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project and their commitment to helping other veterans.
Hiring veterans is more than an act of patriotism. It’s a strategic business decision that brings enormous benefits to Nestlé. Leadership abilities and strong sense of mission are characteristics that can transfer seamlessly from the military to civilian life. But the journey doesn’t end when the offer letter is signed: it’s about coaching and support day after day to help ensure success for our veterans and their teams.