In 2014, the Cayman Turtle Farm had three different people in the post of food and beverage manager, two managers for the farm and two people in charge of retail operations over the year, according to minutes from the government-owned company’s board of directors.
Turtle Farm managing director Tim Adam said in an interview the Turtle Farm loses 12 to 14 employees per year, on average, through resignations and terminations. That amounts to more than 10 percent of the organization’s 90 employees leaving each year.
Last year, seven people in senior management positions resigned from the Turtle Farm.
“Really competent people who don’t need a work permit are in high demand,” Mr. Adam said, adding, “They get poached.”
Mr. Adam said that as of now, only four of the company’s 90 full-time employees are on work permits.
The food and beverage manager job, responsible for the tourism attraction’s restaurant, had three people in the post in 2014. The first resigned in January. A second was hired in March and started at the end of the month only to resign seven months later. The October meeting minutes, released through a Freedom of Information request and subsequent appeal, note, “F&B Manager had resigned as he had received an offer at a significantly higher salary.”
The board of directors debated outsourcing the position but then hired a third manager in December – though she left the post the following May.
The farm manager job, responsible for the meat production side of the operation, was vacant through 2014 until the beginning of June when a new employee came to Cayman on a work permit. But, the minutes note, the new manager resigned after just a couple of days. The meeting minutes state: “Unfortunately he decided for various reasons that the job was not the best fit for him.”
June 2014 was when the farm was in the midst of an infection that eventually killed almost 1,300 turtles over four months. That same month, the retail manager also resigned after about three months on the job.
The Cayman Compass tried to contact several former managers but had not received any responses as of press time.
Argument caught on video
One internal staffing issue at the farm came to light this week in a video posted on social media. The video shows a loud argument between Mr. Adam and lifeguard manager Christopher Willenborg during a personnel meeting at the beginning of the month.
The video and documents posted online by Mr. Willenborg point to infighting among managers.
Mr. Willenborg declined to comment and instead referred to his online postings to get his version of events on the record. He explained the context of the video in a recent post: “I stood up for an employee being wronged. Instead upper management tried to discipline me for standing up for an abused staff member.”
In the video, Mr. Adam repeatedly tells Mr. Willenborg to “shut up” and to leave the premises after Mr. Willenborg makes accusations about the managing director.
Mr. Adam declined to comment on the argument directly, calling it “abuse of the media” for, in his words, a “disgruntled employee” to leak a secret recording from an internal meeting.
In a brief phone interview, Mr. Willenborg said he does not plan to return to his job at the Turtle Farm.
The Tourism Ministry said in a statement that it is reviewing the matter.