Flint Hills manager named Patriotic EmployerJoe Allaben didn’t think he had done anything special when he helped Mike Starkman get ready to deploy for Iraq. As his manager at Flint Hills Resources, Allaben did what he thought was expected of him.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Joe Allaben didn’t think he had done anything special when he helped Mike Starkman get ready to deploy for Iraq. As his manager at Flint Hills Resources, Allaben did what he thought was expected of him.
To Starkman, though, Allaben’s help during a stressful time went above and beyond. From Iraq Starkman nominated Allaben for an Patriotic Employer Award.
With fellow Flint Hills Resources employees, Mayor Bill Droste, and Starkman’s wife Heidi on hand, Allaben received the award June 10 from the Minnesota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization.
“It’s a pretty neat recognition,” said Allaben. “To me it felt like I was conducting normal business but I’m glad he felt that it was a good experience.”
Starkman has worked at Flint Hills Resources for more than 10 years. He worked under Allaben in the safety department before his deployment started in February. Allaben now works as the director of process management.
In early 2008, Starkman, a member of the National Guard for 21 years, learned he would spend a year in Iraq with the 34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division. The Red Bulls have taken command of the armed forces in the southern third of Iraq.
Leading up to his departure Starkman and the rest of the 34th prepared for their time overseas through additional training which required quite a bit of time away from work. Allaben also recognized that Starkman needed to spend additional time with his family before leaving.
“Mike and I always talked about what was coming and had a plan,” said Allaben of dealing with Starkman’s absences over the last year.
Heidi Starkman said Allaben and the other employees in the department stepped up and have been supportive. She said the department is a small group and that all of the employees have been impacted by Starkman’s deployment.
“Everyone there has been great to us,” said Heidi. “They’re all having to step up and they’ve been supportive.”
While it’s been difficult Heidi said the support from Flint Hills has made situation easier.
During the award ceremony Flint Hills Resources employees Jesse Lee, Scott Quamme and Dave Grovum also received recognition for their military service. Lee and Quamme both have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan