Life at General Mills

Longest-tenured General Mills employee reaches 55-year milestone  

When Lester McGowan started at General Mills in 1967, he had no idea he would still be here, 55 years later, earning the title of our longest-tenured employee.

Pride and love for General Mills

Our engaged employees are the foundation of what makes General Mills thrive. 

We recently met with Lester McGowan, an employee at our Cincinnati manufacturing plant, to discuss his new title of “longest-tenured employee.”  

Lester says the people and opportunities are what have kept him at General Mills all these years.  

“The people here are amazing. There are always new opportunities that come up and lots of challenges as well.”  

He also takes great pride in his work and has been proud of every job he’s had at General Mills.  

“I just love what I do,” he says.  

Lester was 21 years old when he started at our Cincinnati manufacturing plant as a packaging line operator on the third shift, working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. After 30 years, he moved to the second shift.

Over the years, he’s held various roles and accrued countless learning experiences. From machine operator and line operator to machine tech, he’s had many different experiences.

“Anything in the packing department – I’ve done it.” 

One thing that has never changed is his passion for working. He loves his work – and there’s a bit of General Mills blue in his blood. 

“It’s always been there and always will be.”  

Evolving through the decades

The General Mills Cincinnati manufacturing plant was built in 1959 and has changed quite a bit since then. And Lester has been around to see most of those changes.

“I’m almost as old as the plant. It was only eight years old when I first started,” he says. 

The biggest change he’s witnessed over the years is the evolution of technology. 

“When I first started, almost everything was manual. No computers. Just one motor ran a big machine and the rest of it was up to me to run it.” 

Continuing his legacy

Lester is described as a champion of the culture at our Cincinnati plant and has made a lasting impact on his team and peers. 

“He is not only one of the finest employees, but one of the finest people that I’ve been around in my 30+ year career,” says Jim Cain, Lester’s manager. “The dedication and energy that he brings to his job and the Cincinnati plant daily is an amazing example for others to follow. In many ways he is the culture at this plant both through a willingness to help all and a drive to improve our performance in any way possible.” 

Another fun fact about Lester – two of his children also work with him at General Mills’ Cincinnati plant: Cherie Cundiff, lab analyst who has been with the company for nearly 6 years and Garred McGowan, warehouse utility technician who's been a General Mills employee for nearly 33 years.

Not only is he an inspiration to his team, but also to his children.  

“By observing my dad's dedication and devotion to General Mills, I have learned the true definition of work ethic and it has been instilled in me,” says Cundiff. “Every job that I have had, I have committed my all to do the very best that I could – and I have my dad to credit for that.”  

Lester is proud to share his legacy with his family and can’t wait to see what new things he’ll learn this year.

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