Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates CEO Rick Tigner took center stage on the latest "Undercover Boss" (Sun., 8 p.m. EST on CBS). The episode was as much about Tigner, who's been CEO less than a year, gaining a better understanding of the company he's been a part of for 20 years, and making sure it's fulfilling the legacy of its founder Jess Jackson, who passed away in April 2011.
Along the way, he met three employees he was very enthusiastic about, and one who concerned him greatly. Rene was one of his truck drivers and he had a very "me-centric" attitude and some issues with foul language. As penance, Rene wasn't lavished with gifts, but was instead stuck with office duty for a month so he could better understand the other side of the business. Ironically, he came up with a way to streamline their paperwork process that was so effective it was implemented company-wide.
Marco was a bottler who started with the company at the same time as Tigner to the week. He also knew Jess Jackson personally. While he was passionate about his work and very skilled at it, he felt under-appreciated by the company. So Tigner established a new annual Lifetime Achievement Award, named after Jess Jackson, with Marco as its first recipient. He also gave him a $10,000 vacation and $5,000 toward the DJ business he runs on the side.
Out in the fields with Laura, Tigner discovered a language barrier, as many of the workers spoke only Spanish, while others only English, including himself. So he put together a $10,000 training program and vowed to learn Spanish himself. He also put Laura in a management training program and helped pay off her student loans. Savannah, a woman working at one of the wine tasting locations, was given full-time benefits and a raise, a donation to a homeless shelter in her name -- she was homeless at fourteen -- and convinced Tigner to restore 401K benefits company-wide.
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