Industry Spotlight: Steven Capps, Director of Transportation, Jake’s Finer Foods
When you talk to Steven Capps, Director of Transportation at Jake’s Finer Foods in Houston, Texas, he exudes a sense of calm. And it’s a little surprising he can be so serene after the whirlwind the past 17 months have been for the Capps family. First, they picked up and moved from North Carolina to the Houston area in December 2019. “My wife got a new job in the Houston Texas area, and we thought, ‘Yes, we’ll move. We’ll make new friends.’ Of course, we didn’t know that the pandemic was coming,” he explains.
Steven is no stranger to the ups and downs of foodservice distribution; he’s been working in the field since 2009. He even ran a restaurant at one point, so he’s seen both sides of the business. And before starting at Jake’s, he had been a driver and manager for companies such as Sysco and US Foods. “You could say driving is in my blood,” he says. “My dad was a truck driver for 40 years. He provided a good life for our family and was home every night. I grew up knowing this was a good career.”
So off to Houston went Steven, his wife, and their two children. After looking at his choices, he decided to accept a position in January 2020 as a driver for Jake’s because he “researched Jake’s, and they live their core values, and I respect that.” From the beginning, Steven says he felt like he was a great fit at Jake’s and that they were his extended family.
The leadership at Jake’s must have felt the same way about Steven because he was promoted to Night Warehouse Manager after just a few months. And just a few months after that, he was promoted to Director of Transportation. “The leadership at Jake’s has taught me so much, and I have grown more in this past year than in the past ten years of my career,” Steven says with sincerity.
Reflecting on the pandemic, Steven says this, “in the beginning, it was frightening. There was so much doom and gloom everywhere. I was glad to have my job at Jake’s because the leadership was so strong, and they keep rolling along. I found myself looking forward to coming to work because it had a sense of normalcy.” And since Jake’s covers the retail and restaurant markets, they could shift resources slightly and didn’t have layoffs. In fact, the opposite was true. They were trying to hire more staff the whole time. “I just had faith we would get through,” says Steven. “I mean, everyone has to eat, right?”
Steven identifies most with the ideals of servant leadership. He recalls Cory Willard, VP of Operations at Jake’s, saying something he completely agrees with, “Take care of the team, and the team will take care of the customers.” Steven is passionate about his team and tries to lead the way he would want to be led and that includes caring about them and also their families. He understands that it’s not all about the paycheck for his drivers and that “people want to feel supported, they want to be a part of something positive, and they feel good about supporting small businesses.”
This February, Texas experienced a once-in-a-lifetime winter storm. Roads were impassable for several days, and Jake’s had to close down. But Jake’s was the first distributor in the area up and running again, and Steven found his one-hour commute was much longer. “In North Carolina, we didn’t have a lot of snowplows, but they eventually did come. In Texas, the plan is to wait for it to melt. But it didn’t. I needed to get to work to support my team, so I hit the road, and it took me over three hours to get there,” he explains. With so many employees struggling with no heat or power, he understood how important it was to be in his office and provide normalcy.
The only problem? “Shortly after I got to the warehouse, my wife went into labor with our third child,” he says with a smile in his voice. “Thank goodness everyone pitched in, and we made it through. Jake’s survived the snowstorm, and we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family.”
Our industry is full of dedicated individuals who work hard, keep their heads down, lead by example, and never seek out the limelight. That’s why we need to give employees like Steven the standing ovation he so deserves. Bravo Steven! Keep up the great work.