HP Hood Uses Business Immigration to Fill Vital Positions

HP Hood was founded in 1846, with the mission of providing fresh, safe, premium-quality milk to consumers. One of the most recognizable names in dairy, Hood also manufactures private label and co-manufactured goods. Hood continues to grow its reach in the dairy industry and beyond, tripling its revenue to nearly $3B since 2004.

The story of Hood is quintessentially American – a small town business, started in Boston’s oldest neighborhood, by a milkman who noticed his clients wanted fresher, higher quality milk. Since its humble beginning, Harvey Perley Hood’s milk company – HP Hood – has become an institution in New England and beyond. Today Hood is recognized as the top dairy brand in New England, and is one of the largest dairy processors in the United States with 13 manufacturing plants.

Hood now employs approximately 3,000 people in more than 41 locations across the United States – from California to Maine. Hood manufactures a variety of branded products, private label and licensed products in all, approximately 2,000 unique products as of July 2021.

Hood’s growth has come with increased employment demands. With an eye to maintaining its focus on quality and freshness, Hood employs research and development scientists, quality assurance experts and high-speed production engineers. To meet the demands of coast-to-coast manufacturing and order fulfilment, Hood is undergoing a data estate modernization that requires data engineers and SAP developers. In an ultra-competitive job market, HP Hood has been able to stem shortages in critical positions by sponsoring employees on H-1B, TN and STEM OPT visas, and through permanent resident sponsorship.

And for that, Hood relies on FordMurray.

Hood’s HR team relies on FordMurray’s guidance when hiring noncitizen employees to fill vital roles in the company.

Alisha Garry, Director of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition at Hood, said FordMurray has been an essential partner in HP Hood’s immigration work.

“FordMurray has been very responsive and available, they really guide us through every petition,” Alisha explained. “They are great support for our team, and also great support for our employees. That says a lot.”

HP Hood hires through the competitive H-1B visa program, along with TN visas, STEM OPT sponsorship and sponsorship for permanent resident status. Alisha and talent acquisition managers Caitlin Cannon and Ernie Lorenzo are now familiar with the processes – and FordMurray has been critical in getting everyone up to speed.

“FordMurray was really excellent on the soup to nuts support all the way across the board,” Ernie said. With the knowledge of how to properly sponsor noncitizen individuals for work visas and permanent residence, Hood has added critical employees to its operations.

“We have been able to bring in really good talent that’s brought diverse perspectives and expertise,” Ernie explained. “That has been hugely helpful for Hood as we continue to grow.”

The implementation of an immigration plan has not been without speed bumps. At first, hiring managers were wary of increased hiring timelines and added cost. Company-wide education has been a critical component of FordMurray’s counsel, Caitlin said.

“FordMurray provides realistic quotes and timelines, so we know exactly what to expect from the process,” Caitlin said. With some high-demand positions open for as long as a year, hiring managers find the cost of an immigration petition can be minuscule compared to the opportunity cost of unfilled positions.

FordMurray provides realistic quotes and timelines, so we know exactly what to expect from the process.

Caitlin Cannon, Talent Acquisition Manager

“When roles are not filled, we have to pause projects, which obviously has a huge impact on production,” Caitlin explained. With a new data management system to bring online, Ernie estimates the cost of an unfilled SAP position could add up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition to education, FordMurray helped Hood navigate increased RFEs during the Trump Administration. Tech positions that evolved with changing technologies were particularly scrutinized – as degree titles didn’t always match up with positions that did not exist five years ago.

“Our first RFE really took us by surprise – we weren’t expecting it,” Caitlin said. FordMurray helped Hood identify correct job titles and find supporting paperwork to defend petitions, giving HR leaders and hiring managers the confidence to hire essential employees.

Even as RFEs waned and Hood became more comfortable with visa petitions, the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for noncitizen employees. FordMurray helped Alisha and her team create flexible solutions including amended petitions and new LCAs as H-1B employees needed to work from home and remote locations.

Looking ahead, Hood is preparing for increased growth. With every acquisition and new product, comes the demand for highly skilled workers to engineer manufacturing lines, monitor quality, and add systems to the company’s data infrastructure. For that, FordMurray helps create multisite labor certification processes, so noncitizen employees can work where they are needed most, and has developed PERM processes and strategies that allow more mobility for these employees throughout the green card process.

Additionally, Hood would like to continue evolving its business immigration program, creating clear guidelines for visa sponsorship and permanent resident sponsorship.

“We are focused on how to make sure that we don’t lose this talent,” Alisha said. “Our noncitizen employees are extremely valued and are making an impact. We want to keep them on our team.”

Hood’s corporate culture values diversity and inclusion – not only cultural diversity, but diversity in experiences and backgrounds. A robust immigration program adds to those values.

“Creating an environment that is open to embracing all types of backgrounds is really important to us,” Ernie said. “Your ability to innovate and grow as an organization is nurtured through diversity.”

As the company expands, and adds new products to its portfolio, different viewpoints will help the brand evolve.

“We’re not just a dairy company anymore, you see the openness to new ideas and change, because that’s the direction we’re going as an organization,” Caitlin said.

Interested in learning how a business immigration strategy can help meet employment needs in your organization? Contact FordMurray to schedule a complimentary consultation.