Give People a Job for Life

Joseph Semprevivo, founder of a Joseph's Lite Cookies in Deming, New Mexico believes that creating a job is creating a sacred trust. Founded in 1986 and reaching $100 million in annual sales by 2006, Joseph’s promise demonstrates that treating people fairly and with great respect super-charges a business to grow. Joseph smiles when he says, “It is so sweet that my parents loved me so much that they created a cookie for me that now I share with the world.”


HATTIE: (Voiceover) About an hour's drive from Las Cruces is Deming, where we met the founder of Joseph's Lite Cookies and saw his night shift making the goodies so many love to eat. Joseph Semprevivo deserves to brag.

JOSEPH SEMPREVIVO (Joseph's Lite Cookies): I want to do something different. I want to tell my team members, 'You start with me, you can end with me. You can work with me the rest of your life until you retire.' And they love that.

And what we've found out is our team members care more about efficiency, because they have lifetime jobs. They come to me and they say, 'You know what, Joseph? If we eliminate this step in the process, we can save the company more money,' and I'm sitting there, I'm scratching my head, saying, 'Wow, but that's actually reducing your workload.'

'Yeah, I know, but my job is to reduce my workload so much, you'll create another job for me.' And that's found to be true. We've moved them from one position to another, because they've actually eliminated positions within the company.

See, we're team-based, and in order to have a team, you have to have honesty, and you have to have integrity and promise-keeping. And people need to know that the person to their right and the person to their left, they depend on, and our team members in the front office depend on the team members in the production facility. And you know what? I would not have a job if it wasn't for my team members in production. I'd be out of a job. And you know what? Our team-members in the back, they understand that they would not have a job if it wasn't for me.

HATTIE: That's right.

JOSEPH: So it's a true partnership now.

HATTIE: OK. You started in what year?

JOSEPH: I started in 1986.

HATTIE: And you were?

JOSEPH: I was 15 years old with the cookies, yes.

HATTIE: OK. But why? Where did you get the inspiration? Why cookies with no sugar?

JOSEPH: Well, at nine years old, I was diagnosed with diabetes; so, obviously, I couldn't have any sugar at all. And I went to my parents. I had an ice cream shop actually when I turned the age of 12, and I ran in to my parents, I said, 'You know what? I'm making this gourmet ice cream every single day, and I want to make a sugar-free ice cream,' and my parents said, 'Well, go ahead. You know the recipe of the gourmet. See what you can come up with.' And I came up with the first sugar-free ice cream in the marketplace when I was 12 years old.

When I was 15, I went to my parents and said, 'Could you make me a sugar-free cookie?' and they came up with the first sugar-free cookie when I was 15 years old. And when I tasted it, I said, 'That's it, I want to share this sugar-free cookie with all the other diabetics in the country.'

HATTIE: Your parents made this oatmeal cookie. When did you turn that into a business?

JOSEPH: Actually, as soon as they made it. I was 15, they made it, I loved it. I said, 'You know what? I'm going to start locally, do a rolling out strategy.' Of course, I didn't know the terminology at 15 years old, but I said, 'I'm going to start in Deming and then go to the next city and the next city.' And now we’re in 50 states across the country.

This video serves as an illustration of treating employees justly in "A Wise Worker is Just" in Proverbs and Work at