Tathiana Tanzey: “Ted Castle and the ‘Inside Out’ Strategy”

Ted Castle, CEO of Rhino Foods, believes in uplifting and supporting employees. In a TED Talk hosted by UVM in  2010, Castle explained that top quality businesses invest in their most valuable asset — their employees. They do so by focusing on personal development and interpersonal relationships, while nurturing a sense of purpose in their employees. ‘The best businesses in the world that are focusing on these three things are making a difference.’”

Applying these three approaches to the work force is not novel, but it is effective. Castle, however, pointed out a flaw within this management model:  Businesses are only interested in addressing this model during work hours and ignore the employees once they are off the clock. He suggests that such an approach “ignores reality, it does not serve the individual, the business, or our society’s best interest.” (Castle, 2010, August 5) Castle does not believe in dividing life at work and outside of work. He insists that making connections with employees and showing genuine interest in helping them improve the quality of their lives can result in happier individuals who are committed to working for a company that they believe has their best interest at hand. Satisfied employees equal a higher retention rate for the company, which can lead to stabilized profits.

“[I]f we allow people to work on projects, and we talk to people about their lives outside of work and how they can make positive changes in their family, with their friends, and in their communities, they will be more engaged in learning and growing sixteen hours a day. I call this strategy “The Inside Out.” (Castle, 2010, August 5)

(Castle, 2010, August 5)

[WARNING: Ted’s mic is not turned on until 50 seconds into his talk.]

The Inside Out strategy is fully practiced at Rhino Foods. It’s not just talk. Castle runs his company like a coach, making sure that everyone is playing their part. If an employee needs improvement in an area, he has procedures set in place so that the employee’s needs are addressed. The company has an open book policy with finances to encourage trust and productivity. (Vaughan-Hughes, 1999) In 2007, Rhino Foods teamed up a few other companies to create a program that focused on meeting the social needs of employees. This program, WorkingBridges, is funded partially by United Way and has produced tangible results. A resource coordinator was hired to privately assist employees of Rhino Foods. (T. Castle, personal communication, June 25, 2014) The coordinator is responsible for connecting the employees to the right non-profit and state programs that would help with issues they were facing outside of work.  Examples of those issues are daycare assistance, transportation, healthcare, and housing.

As head of a factory company, Ted also noticed that most of his employees live paycheck to paycheck, thus securing loans was a prominent issue. He started a loan partnership with several local credit unions to offer all his employees a $1,000 line of credit. So far, this loan partnership has served 255 employees with a default rate of less than 10%. (T. Castle, personal communication, June 25, 2014) It has allowed his employees to deal with emergencies, despite their budget limitations. His Employee Exchange Program has been a game changer in retaining satisfied employees.

“During tough times, instead of laying off employees, Ted loans them out to other local businesses with the promise of jobs when they return.  The best employees go out to other businesses which is great PR for Rhino Foods, but also gives the remaining employees an opportunity to step up and learn new leadership skills, themselves.” (Mishra, n.d.)

This type of commitment to his employees has a ripple effect, because those employees are more likely to share their good opinions of Rhino Foods with other workers. This is especially so with Vermont’s refugee population because Ted is known for his efforts in accommodating refugees and new Americans. Rhino Foods offers English Language Learning classes at work to help non-English speakers assimilate smoothly into the workforce and their new lives. (Mishra, n.d.) Overall these social reforms Ted Castle instilled in his company have boosted workforce morale and has increased his retention rate from 50% to over 80%. (T. Castle, personal communication, June 25, 2014) There is a strong sense of community in the workforce. As the employees in the following video expressed, working at Rhino’s is like working with family. (“The Rhino Way,” n.d.)

(“Rhino,” n.d.)

The hard work that Ted Castle has put into Rhino Foods has made an impact beyond his employees into the wider community, leading to many awards.  For example, he won the title “Vermont Small Business Person of the Year” by the United States Small Business Administration and received Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  His company Rhino Foods “was awarded the US Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Enterprise Award, the Terry Ehrlich Award for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and was selected as one of Inc. Magazine’s best companies.” (Ted Castle | Shelburne Farms., n.d.)

Beyond his duties as CEO, Ted has offered his time and effort to serve on “the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, United Way of Chittenden County, and the Community Sailing Center.” He is heavily involved with VT Special Olympics and has coached various local sports teams. (VermontBiz, 2009) In addition to his public duties, Castle is a family man who remembers to put his family first, a core commitment that extends outward to embrace the wider community. According to Ted,

I believe every business owner has a passion that is a source of great motivation. Mine is all about finding ways to create positive social change through business.” (Castle. n.d.)


Castle, T. (2010, August 5). TEDxUVM – Ted Castle – 07/19/10 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRod7LLFA60

Castle, T. (n.d.). Rhino Employee Profile. Ted Castle. Retrieved from http://www.rhinofoods.com/ted-castle

Mishra, K. (n.d.). Meet our Trustworthy Leaders: Ted Castle of Rhino Foods. Total Trust: Coaching & Consulting. Retrieved from http://www.trustiseverything.com/blog/meet-our-trustworthy-leaders-ted-castle-of-rhino-foods/

Rhino Foods, Inc. (n.d.). The Rhino way [Video File]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/19869462

Ted Castle | Shelburne Farms. (n.d.). Ted Castle | Shelburne Farms. Retrieved  from http://www.shelburnefarms.org/about/people/ted-castle

Ted Castle of Rhino Foods wins VBSR award. (2009, April 14). Current News. Retrieved from http://www.vermontbiz.com/news/april/ted-castle-rhino-foods-wins-vbsr-award

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APA cite in text as: (Tanzey, 2014)

APA cite in full References as: Tanzey, T. (2014). Ted Castle and the “Inside Out” strategy. Vermont Psychology. Retrieved from http://wp.me/p4elXk-jh

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1503872_10152408649044854_4527532820687851726_nTathiana Tanzey: If I could marry food, I would. I plan to travel the world and taste as many different cuisines as I can. This goal is at the very top of my bucket list. Another goal of mine is to return to my birth country (Democratic Republic of Congo) and invest my time toward its development. Vermont has been my home for the past 10 years and I love it. Living here has fueled my love for literature, history, folk music, and quaint little towns. My life consists of taking classes at CCV, raising my two younger siblings, looking for volunteering opportunities to join, and filling my journals with Da Vinci-inspired scribblings. I hope to become a psychiatrist, eventually. I can see myself working at a teen crisis center, a prison, or a refugee camp. That is the ultimate dream.