Building Culture and Community
Even though Doug Oppenheimer is the president of a major foods and real estate corporation, he’s not afraid to have fun. For one longtime employee’s birthday, Oppenheimer and his brother, Skip, decided to play a practical joke and surprise him at his home with a truck loaded with 40,000 pounds of frozen French fries.
“Every now and then a practical joke and laughter can have a wonderful and fun impact, and our associates here are terrific participants,” Oppenheimer says. He believes creating a caring culture that prioritizes customers, employees and family has led to his and his companies’ success.
“It’s all about culture,” Oppenheimer says. “If you can create a customer-driven and caring culture, you can do magic.”
Oppenheimer has focused on developing relationships both internally and externally, for the past 44 years.
“Since so many of us have worked together for such a long time, we’ve had a variety of experiences together,” he says. “And with that, comes trust and understanding and a real bond. The greater the trust, the more people are willing to put themselves out there because they have each other’s backs. Plus, working with my brother Skip, my business partner and my closest friend, makes work so fun and so rewarding.”
Oppenheimer’s father started in the food business in Boise as a national sales agent for independent food companies, initially focusing on frozen potatoes.
Now a generation later, Oppenheimer and his brother have expanded Oppenheimer Companies to include food products and distribution, transportation logistics, commercial real estate development, and property management.
“We focus on food and shelter,” Oppenheimer says.
“It taught me how to ask a lot of questions and how to listen,” he says.
Oppenheimer eventually moved back to Boise to work with his father and brother. “I was out there peddling frozen fruits, vegetables and potatoes to our distributors across the country, which was a great education,” he says. “That’s where I started.”
Today he continues to expand the food side of the business. He’s also involved in developing downtowns, such as a newly completed urban renewal project in Idaho Falls. “We think having strong downtowns creates strong communities,” he says.
Oppenheimer doesn’t limit his community involvement to company projects. Through the years, he’s served a countless number of nonprofits. He helped start the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, is involved in St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center and serves on various education boards.
My brother and I think it’s really important to make a difference in a community and give back,” Oppenheimer says. “By being involved perhaps we can make a small difference.”
Oppenheimer’s influence has been more than small. In November 2018, he was awarded the Ralph J. Comstock Jr. Light of Philanthropy award from St. Luke’s. It’s given to those who have a spirit of philanthropy, leadership and humanitarianism.
“I’m humbled and a little embarrassed,” Oppenheimer says. “I’d much rather shine the spotlight on someone than be in the spotlight.”
How does he find the time to be involved in such a variety of organizations? “We all have plenty of time,” he says. “We just have to figure out how best to spend it.”